I Found Dory At The Monterey Bay Aquarium #FindingDoryEvent
Last month I was treated to a very special up close and personal look behind the scenes at the Monterey Bay Aquarium which just happens to serve as the backdrop and inspiration for Disney•Pixar’s brand new animated feature, Finding Dory, which swims into theaters everywhere on June 17.
It was here at the Monterey Marine Life Institute that the animators and production team of Finding Dory spent untold hours researching the inner workings of an aquarium of this magnitude in order to bring the film version and setting to life.
The film picks up six months after Finding Nemo, when Dory suddenly recalls her childhood memories. Remembering something about “the jewel of Monterey, California”, she is accompanied by Nemo and Marlin, as she sets out to find her family. Arriving at the Monterey Marine Life Institute, it is here that Dory meets Bailey, a white beluga whale; Destiny, a whale shark; and Hank the octopus, who becomes her guide.
If you’ve never been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium before, it’s worth a visit to California all on its own. The Aquarium is located right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean in beautiful Monterey, California. A part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the waters just off the decks of the aquarium are home to an amazing variety of marine life.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium was first opened in 1984 and has played host to over 2 million visitors each year including my own family who held annual passes to this fascinating glimpse of life under the sea. It is home to thousands of plants and animals, including more than 600 species of underwater life.
It is said that that the best kind of learning is hands on learning where children are encouraged to explore and discover and in no place is this more true than at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. With the Pacific Ocean as its’ backdrop, the Aquarium gives a rare and special glimpse of where nature meets Monterey, taking full advantage of this unique setting. To illustrate how rare this aquarium truly is, we were lucky enough to be there two days after a wild sea otter climbed into a Monterey Bay Aquarium pool and gave birth to a baby otter, the second in mere months. Where else could you find a front row seat to creatures of the ocean and nature at its very best?
Since opening in 1984, more than two million schoolchildren and teachers have come through the doors of the aquarium and thousands more teachers and students take advantage of the in-depth programs via curriculum guides, online webcams and more.
With so much to see and do, here is just a sampling of a few of the not to be missed exhibits awaiting you on your visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium:
My own family’s personal favorite, the Splash Zone is a place where families can get up close and personal to the water and discover the ocean together.
Home to over 45 interactive exhibits in English and Spanish, you can dive into a kelp forest, visit a coral reef kingdom or explore a rocky shore. Rockfish, sharks and penguins call these places home and of course it is here that, if you’re very lucky, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of Dory, Nemo and Marlin.
The Kelp Forest
The showcase of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the main tank which stands 28-feet-high and holds 333,000-US-gallons of fresh sea water allowing for a perfect up close and personal view of the California coastal marine life. It was in this tank, that the aquarium became the first in the world to grow live California Giant Kelp.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium also is home to a mammoth 1,200,000-U.S.-gallon tank in the Open Sea galleries, which features one of the world’s largest single-paned windows. But as magnificent as the tank and sea life is by day, being surrounded by the majesty of these creatures at night opens up an entirely new world that one can only imagine as we quickly discovered when we paid a visit to the aquarium after dark.
¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge
From the slithery to the scaly to the spectacularly showy the ¡Viva Baja! gives you a special look and allows you to discover the incredible animals from land and sea from the coastal habitats of Baja California. Life here thrives on the edge of sand and surf, where rugged desert coastline meets the sapphire waters of the Pacific.
Meet The Sea Otters
Is there anything cuter than a Sea Otter? The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides a safe haven for these rescued animals that are no longer able to survive in the wild. One of my favorite things that I learned during my visit was that each of the animals is occasionally off exhibit, acting as a companion or mentor to other stranded otters as part of the Sea Otter Program.
At the aquarium you’ll have the chance to get a first hand look at the antics of these playful southern sea otters as they romp, tumble and wrestle like they do in the wild. A two level exhibit, the second floor allows you to watch them swim at the surface, while first-floor windows give an underwater view of their lively acrobatics.
Life On The Bay
One of the things that makes the Monterey Aquarium unique and what sets it apart from other aquariums is the fact that it sits perched on the edge of Monterey Bay. The breathtaking ocean-view decks offer a great vantage point to spot wildlife, from sea otters to humpback whales and a place where I could sit for hours. In the Marine Mammal Gallery, you’ll find life-size models of whales and dolphins swimming overhead, and learn about life on the bay once again making learning accessible and fun for all.
Just how all of this will play into Finding Dory? You’ll soon find out on June 17 but for now here’s a glimpse at the reason for our visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory: