Friday, December 28, 2007

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Aquariums are incredible centers of wonderment and learning. It's astonishing how many species are kept alive for our amusement and study - wonder what the fish are thinking?

After visiting Cannery Row very briefly, we met up for lunch with Linda McClennan, a friend from my old days at Silicon Beach and now resident of the fine town of Monterey by way of Lake Tahoe., I specifically requested a local dining experience and we ended up at "Hulas," a surf-themed bar/restaurant that fit the bill perfectly. Afterwards, we ventured forth, sans Linda, to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Very crowded on a holiday week, but we paired up in gender buddies (Emily with Kim and I with Etho the boy) to make the best of it and press on regardless.

I noticed right off the bat that photography of any quality sort was going to be very difficult. "No Flashes" signs were omnipresent at every large aquarium - they "scared the fish" was the party line, but I only half believed it. I mean, if the gesturing tourists and ever-present miasma of humanity didn't do it, I couldn't see how a flash or two or a hundred would upset these adaptable creatures. But who was I to argue -I was there with a monopod which I later found out was against the rules. I shrugged and told the Authority Figure ("AF") that no one was harmed in the photography of the mammals.

I tried shooting on both Manual and Program modes (which handles pretty much all of the dial fiddling) with mixed results as shown below. I'm such a rookie. I can't tell you how many wasted shots there were to get these... ;-)

The fish though were amazing, just as advertised - schools of sardines, the only Great White in captivity, a Hammerhead shark, Otters, and... oh, the Jellies. How spectacular! Mesmerizing, gorgeous, hypnotic. I first gained an appreciation of the gentle Jellyfish from Spongebob Squarepants, but now I'm a "True Believer."

I think an annual pass where one could view with impunity and relaxation would be the way to go. Nonetheless, an afternoon of aquarium enjoyment was tasty sampler.

PS: Cannery Row was a total tourist trap, but there were "pockets of lore" to be found. And, of course, the shoreline was interesting...

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