The Aquarium has preserved sections of the original cannery as part of its exhibits. Shown here are two of the original boilers.
Among the aquarium's numerous exhibits, two are of particular note. The centerpiece of the Ocean's Edge wing is a 33-foot (10-m) high tank for viewing California coastal marine life. In this tank, the aquarium was the first in the world to grow live California Giant Kelp using a wave machine at the top of the tank (water movement is a necessary precondition for keeping Giant Kelp, which absorbs nutrients from surrounding water and requires turbidity), allowing sunlight in through the open tank top, and pumping in raw seawater. The second exhibit of note is a one million gallon tank in the Outer Bay Wing which features one of the world's largest single-paned windows. The window is constructed of four panes seamlessly glued together through a special process. We were excited because for the third time in the Aquarium's history, the Outer Bay was the temporary home to a juvenile Great White Shark. It took a while for us to spot the shark as it swam in the Outer Bay tank. He wa a dark grey-blue and blended into the background. But once we finally located him, we could see that the Great White had an entirely different build than the Hammerhead sharks and the Galapogos sharks which were also part of the display. He was heavier and his jaws were larger. Twice, as the shark swam by, he stretched his jaws and we could see his teeth --- rows of very sharp triangles. Overall, it was quite interesting to see him. And it turned out, it was also the last weekend he was on display. On February 5th, 2008, he was returned to the Pacific Ocean.
Perhaps my favorite exhibits in the entire aquarium are the jellyfish. "Jellies" live in virtually every part of the ocean and come in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some, like the aquarium's box jellies, are no bigger than a thimble. Others, like the Arctic lion's mane, have umbrella-shaped bells that reach 7 feet across and tentacles that stretch 100 feet or more. Jellies often use their tentacles to sting and snare prey, such as small fish, while drifting with the current. Mediterranean jellies are also called fried egg jellies, for obvious reasons—namely, their smooth golden globes on top of their brown bells. But despite their beautiful purple and white colors, these jellies are no treat in Mar Menor, a coastal lagoon in Spain. Fertilizer runoff there led to an oversupply of the plankton that’s a staple of the jellies’ diet. Now there’s an oversupply of jellies, too, threatening fisheries and tourism.
Like a large bird egg cracked and poured into the water, that three-foot, translucent bell is yolk-yellow at the center, with hundreds of tentacles clustered around the margin. The egg-yolk jelly is one of the larger species of jellies commonly found in Monterey Bay. This massive jelly usually drifts motionless or moves with gentle pulsing. Acting like an underwater spider web with a mild sting, an egg-yolk jelly captures other jellies that swim into its mass of tentacles.