Are you an extravert or an introvert? If you are an introvert, perhaps you’ll come back as an octopus, cuttlefish or squid in your next life. These creatures of the deep sea are known to be camera shy and often seek to blend in with their environment. Staff at the Monterey Bay Aquarium have been working over three years to bring these cephalopods to life in an exhibit called Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes. I was on hand for the unveiling of the Tentacles exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Education through entertainment
The staff, docents and volunteers working at the Monterey Bay Aquarium are masters at educating both young and old through highly interactive marine-focused exhibits. My parents are fortunate to live in the Monterey area and were kind enough to purchase family memberships to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for our entire family when our kids were growing up. We visited this world famous aquarium every time we paid a visit to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. From the Splash Zone, penguins and sea otters to the giant Pacific octopus and Jellies Experience exhibits, the Monterey Bay Aquarium folks educate through entertainment with hands on learning, mixed with plenty of enthusiasm. Where else can you find a waiting list of volunteer divers ready and willing to clean the inside of a 28 foot tall, glass-enclosed kelp forest?
Nocturnal animals at the aquarium
While I am not a diver, I’m happy to snorkel in warm waters and observe brightly colored fish and sea turtles swimming in the open ocean. I have yet to see an octopus, squid, cuttlefish or chambered nautilus during my snorkeling adventures and that is fine by me.
These cephalopods hang out in the deep sea, away from snorkelers such as myself. Sometimes divers in the Monterey canyon are rewarded with sightings of these sea creatures, but more often than not they avoid contact with man.
The Tentacles exhibit gives visitors to the aquarium a unique and up close look at these deep sea animals. While I love watching the giant Pacific octopus ripple its amazing arms (they don’t have tentacles), it’s the Flapjack Octopus that charmed me. Its slow up and down willowy dance movements reminded me of a lava lamp from the 1970’s, complete with soft red mood lighting.
Fun fact: octopuses and most cephalopods are actually color blind – quite surprising considering they are so adept at changing colors.
Contrary to Captain Nemo’s observations in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, giant octopuses do not attack ships and submarines, instead, these clever creatures capture our imagination.
“This is a great opportunity for people to meet incredible animals and explore ways to protect them for their future,” said Jaci Tomulonis, lead exhibit developer on the team that created Tentacles.
If you know when you plan to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium avoid the lines, purchase your tickets online.
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If You Go:
Monterey Bay Aquarium (831) 648-4800
Article, video and photos by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Monterey Bay Aquarium. All opinions are my own.