When you say aquarium in California, the grandiose one in Monterey often comes to mind. Since October 20th, 1984, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has been open to the public, amazing visitors with close-up views of sea otters, a living kelp forest and the occasional great white shark. In all, about 550 species are on display to the 1.8 million people who visit each year.
But the aquarium is much more than beautiful spectacles (which are in the name of education and citizen sea stewardship, of course). There's Seafood Watch, a program and pocket guide (or mobile app) that advises eating choices that are healthy for the ocean, and the White Shark Research Project, where juveniles accidently caught in fishing nets are sent to the Open Sea exhibit for recovery and public education before being tagged and returned into the wild (the one currently on display, the sixth in the institution's history and shown in the above video, was captured off Marina del Rey in Southern California in August). Also, the aquarium this year sponsored a successful California bill to ban the sale and possession of shark fins, a main ingredient in a traditional Chinese soup.
When the aquarium opened 27 years ago today, over 10,000 people visited, creating an entrance queue nearly the length of Cannery Row.. That sense of excitement and popularity seems to still exist today (however, and thankfully, minus that long of line). Happy birthday, Monterey Bay Aquarium!