Yay Monterey Bay!

Although a long drive south, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is really something else. While large, it's not the size that makes the aquarium so interesting. In nearly every exhibit, the presentation was fantastic, affecting the viewer with the sense you'd get had you gone to see these creatures in the wild.

A kelp forest, found here in the Monterey Bay, was recreated complete with waves to move the kelp around, providing the necessary churn for life. The key was that you got to see it full-size, wrapping around you. You got a sense of really being suspended right off shore.

The exhibit showcasing the crashing cacophony of tidal pools didn't just tell you about what it's like in a storm, they tossed crashing waves over your head!
The jellies exhibit was yet another great example of fantastic setting. In essence jellies are almost otherwordly creatures, floating around in the deep. If you were the first explorer to stumble across a giant school of them floating by, I'm sure the experience must have been completely surreal. The lighting and layout of this exhibit was almost science-fiction in nature. It fit wonderfully.
The deep holding tank was far and away my favourite, however. The sense of a vast ocean full of life right in front of you was beautifully recreated. I stood in front of it and was a child again -- curious and full of wonder at all the world's possibilities.

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