All Photos (c) Donna Dailey
On one of our visits to Monterey, the Jellies Experience had recently opened at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This was their newest attraction, and even though we’d been to the aquarium before, we were happy to go again to find out what the Jellies Experience was all about. And, of course, to enjoy some of our other favorites, like feeding time with the otters, the Kelp Forest, and the delightful seahorses and sea dragons.
We were curious about this latest new exhibition, partly because we wondered how they could make a whole exhibition, just about jellyfish. Sure, they are fascinating creatures, unless you happen to brush up against one in the sea, but would an entire exhibition, just about jellyfish, really be that interesting?
We needn’t have worried as the fun starts as soon as you enter. Beyond some tanks filled with pulsating and ghostly jellyfish stands a strange psychedelic-looking object. Get closer and you realise it’s something out of the Hall of Mirrors, reflecting your body and face in all kinds of distorted ways. The kids really loved this one.
With the jellyfish themselves, the tanks and other displays are very imaginatively done, using low lighting to bring out the beauty of these rather surreal creatures. We had no idea there were so many different kinds, and different colors – blue jellyfish, purple-spotted jellyfish, brown ones, ghostly-white ones, jellyfish smaller than a dime, some even as small as pin-heads while others are as big as dinner-plates. Some of them have hundreds of very short tentacles while others have long streamers trailing behind or below them.
We won’t spoil the surprise but there’s lots of background music in the exhibition, and some displays which bring back the feel of the Summer of Love with rainbow colors and suitable music.
Since we visited, the aquarium has now added another display to the Jellies Experience, showing crown jellyfish. These are purple creatures, with a kind of crown on top that has spikes sticking out from it. The fascinating story of how they were brought in, raised, and how they needed some help from bubble-wrap, is told on this page of the Monterey Bay Aquarium website.
All in all, the Jellyfish Experience is an enchanting display, that is creative, educational, and a lot of fun. It’s yet another reason why the aquarium is definitely one of the top sights on the Pacific Coast Highway.
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