Monterey Bay Aquarium: Go There.

 The world is split into those who have visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and those who have not. I can finally join the Light Side! (The world is also split into those who have ready LOTR and those who have not... for some reason, the thought of Chi Squared Statistical Tests are suddenly poking out from the dank basement file cabinets of my brain). Anyways... fantastic aquarium and exhibit displays covering a huge area. Poor little Birch Aquarium at Scripps (La Jolla), anyone who has been to both will automatically compare them. I must say though, the BAS Kelp Tank is as awe inspiring as the MBA Kelp Tank. I magnetized toward the kelp displays first, as over my years at BAS I'd become very fond of kelp habitats (and drawn many kelp inhabitants!), and it was almost like visiting an old friend, being able to name the familiar faces of kelp forest denizens, while noting new kelp friends unique to NorCal coast. I longed to do some Monterey tidepooling, alas, tides and time were not on my side.

Whereas the Kelp section was comforting and nostalgia inducing, the Open Water section was awe inspiring, and I had that rare (as a grown up!) little kid feeling of not knowing what to look at first! The jellies were introduced right away. They were absolutely striking against the blue background; each tank was a live work of art (hmm, I'm sure that simile has been used before). I could've spent all day photographing jellies, and wished I'd not used much time trying to photograph the Cleaner Shrimp cleaning the Moray Eel earlier - a fascinating symbiotic behavior, but photographing had been a time consuming task and fruitless task as the curved glass wall of the tank made made focusing almost impossible.

The Open Water exhibit I'd longed to see ever since I'd heard about the Great White that hung out in it. That was years ago though; I think it was released eventually. Wow. To have a humbling experience, go to the Open Water exhibit and realize we would be but hapless plankton/ floundering fish food chunks, if tossed in the ocean - and so much of the world is ocean. Yet!!! From the comfort of our terrestrial habitats, we are effortlessly (and irrevocably?) changing this Massive Massive Massiver-Than-Comprehensible watery ecosystem - it is rather mind blowing.