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Summer activities for the whole family – new behind-the-scenes tours, no lines and extended weekend hours make for one cool vacation!


The nation’s No. 1 family aquarium is throwing open the doors to summer 2008 in style. New exhibits with cool new animals, new behind-the-scenes tours, sailing and scuba adventures, deck shows, extended weekend hours and no-wait online ticketing are just a few ways to splash into summer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

You’ll also be among the first to explore and enjoy the expanded Splash Zone exhibits, and groove to the beat and beauty of the acclaimed Jellies: Living Art special exhibition one last time.

This summer marks the launch of new behind-the-scenes tours, available several times a day – with or without a reservation. Beginning May 1 visitors ages six and up can participate in a guided 50- minute tour and find out what it takes to care for animals and exhibits at the aquarium. The dynamic tours will be offered several times throughout the day for $10 per person, plus aquarium admission. An expert guide, state-of-the-art headset technology and explorations that take you where the day’s action is the most intriguing make this a must-see addition for repeat as well as first-time aquarium visitors. Space is limited and – while drop-in slots are available – advance purchase online is recommended.

Also for the first time, beginning May 1, visitors can purchase tickets online for select “Aquarium Adventures” – including the new behind-the-scenes tours, and  “Day Sail” and  “Sunset Sail” excursions on Monterey Bay. Aquarium admission tickets are also available online, at There’s no service charge when you print the tickets at home or pick them up when you arrive, and just a small fee if you want tickets mailed out in advance. Either way, advance tickets are a great way to avoid ticket lines on busy summer days.

If you still want more hours to partake in summer aquarium activities – you’ve got it!

You’ll enjoy an off-season experience during the peak summer season each Saturday and Sunday from Fourth of July weekend through Labor Day weekend (July 5-August 31). The return of “Evenings by the Bay” means the aquarium will remain open until 8 p.m. – providing two extra hours to explore and a front-row seat to commune with your favorite sea creatures. In addition to all the exhibits and daily events, you’ll enjoy live jazz, an opportunity to make a dinner reservation in the ocean-view Portola Restaurant and special programs.

While at the aquarium don’t miss the opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the most spectacular oceanic seabirds, a Laysan albatross. Makana, which translates as “gift” in native Hawaiian, is the only one of her kind in any zoo or aquarium in the world. She is an ambassador for her species, and during her 15- minute daily program she helps raise awareness about the threats facing seabirds across the Pacific. The daily 11:15 a.m. program on the Great Tide Pool deck highlights the global threats albatross face from plastics pollution and what each of us can do to make a difference. 

This summer marks the launch of a new and lively deck program, created in collaboration with El Teatro Campesino. Accompanying engaging performances of  Basta Basura! (Enough Trash!) – which focuses on reducing, reusing and recycling  to keep the oceans free of trash – is a new 15-minute performance with an emphasis on energy conservation. Bilingual performances are presented throughout the day on the Great Tide Pool deck.

Another new program for 2008 invites children ages 3 to 7 to get “ArtSea” as it combines science and art in projects led by local Abrakadoodle artists. The aquarium’s youngest visitors can mix art and science as they create unique handicrafts inspired by local artists. The program runs from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. twice a month on Saturdays.

Special events abound as well, including a “World Ocean Day” weekend celebration on June 7 and 8. Activities and performances will highlight the 70 percent of the Earth that’s covered by the ocean, including ways that visitors can assure its health for future generations.

Summer visitors will get a first look at the completely re-imagined “Splash Zone: Ocean Homes” family exhibit. Since its renovation, the award-winning exhibit has been lauded for its playful and educational atmosphere and its expanded space – twice as large as before – where families can engage and learn about the ocean. The three galleries – “Enchanted Kelp Forest,” “Coral Reef Kingdom” and “Rugged Rocky Shore” – explore different ocean habitats and the animals that call these places home.

Splash Zone visitors will journey through an enchanting underwater forest, stroll beneath a sunlit kelp canopy, delight in the wonders of pot-bellied seahorses and pharaoh cuttlefish, pop up next to penguins and much more. In addition to nearly 45 new and improved bilingual interactive exhibits, visitors can also get their hands wet in a 42- foot long touch pool and come face-to-face with incredible animals – from spiny lumpsuckers to garden eels – throughout Splash Zone.

This is also the final opportunity for guests to experience the award-winning Jellies: Living Art special exhibition, home to the largest collection of jellies on the planet, including species never displayed anywhere else in the world. The unique blend of stunning live exhibits combined with intriguing artwork has earned exhibit honors from the American Association of Museums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Since Jellies opened in 2002 the aquarium has extended its run three times due to popular demand.

The exhibition takes visitors on a sensory-rich tour through four different galleries focusing on the beauty and fascination of jelly physiology from shape and size, to rhythm and movement and finally, to color and pattern. Art installations demonstrate the ways in which jellies and sea life have inspired artistic imagination, including pieces by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly, David Hockney, Ernst Haeckel, Cork Marcheschi and others. Jellies closes at the end of Labor Day weekend, on September 1.

Summer visitors will find a full lineup of “Aquarium Adventures” programs including additional “Day Sail” and “Sunset Sail” excursions on Monterey Bay, “Underwater Explorers” surface SCUBA for kids ages 8 to 13, “Morning Rounds” feeding tasks, behind-the-scenes tours and more. Most “Aquarium Adventures” are offered Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. “Sailing Adventures” aboard the eco-friendly Derek M. Baylis, a 65-foot research sailboat, resume on May 11.

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