My trip to Monterey to experience the Tentacles exhibit was covered, but all opinions are my own.
This past Saturday, something truly magical happened at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the new Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefish exhibit opened with a bang, and is the largest exhibit of the cephalopod family to open anywhere in the world. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to preview this amazing exhibit the day before it opened to the general public, and I can tell you that it is a must see. It really is astounding to see the alien-like species on display, many of which have never previously been put on display before! It is sure to bring that child-like look of wonder to eyes both young and old.
Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes
The Tentacles exhibit features the unique lives and traits of the creatures that make up the family called cephalopods. Such creatures include: octopuses, squid, cuttlefishes, and nautiluses. These are all marine molluscs that are related to both snails and slugs. They feature arms and tentacles, with some like squid and cuttlefish having both. There are over 800 identified species of cephalopods in the world, and the Tentacles exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium aims to give visitors just a taste of these intelligent creatures and their many adaptations with nearly a dozen different species on display at any given time.
When you enter the Tentacles exhibit, you walk through different displays depicting how cephalopods have influenced, history, writing, filmmaking and art.
You also have the opportunity to learn about the features, background and scientific facts of the family known as cephalopoda.
Deeper into the exhibit, you get the pleasure of viewing some of these astounding creatures. First up are the octopuses. There are a few different species of octopuses on display, including the Day Octopus who hunts his prey during the daytime and naturally hails from the Indo-Pacific and Hawaii. The Wunderpus, a smaller and more versatile species of octopus is quite a quick change artist, who can change his color, shape and movement to look like other sea animals.
The Giant Pacific Octopus is the largest species on display. This magnificient creature whose habitat ranges from Japan to Alaska and Baja California, starts life in an egg the size of a grain of rice, and can grow to reach a length of 15 feet! It is able to change it’s color, becoming a deep vibrant red when angry.
Perhaps the rarest creature on display in the exhibit is the Flapjack Octopus. This amazing creature is retrieved by ROV (remote operated vehicle) from deep under the sea in the Monterey Canyon that is 2 miles deep and rests just off the shore of the Monterey Bay coast. It is kept under a special LED red light to maintain the lighting it would find in the deep sea. Fun fact, the octopus character of Pearl in Finding Nemo was modeled after the Flapjack Octopus.
The Squid are my favorite creatures in the new Tentacles exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Their funny appearance and curious personalities make them wonderful subjects to study. The Bigfin Reef Squid has a unique appearance, seeming to have fins or wings. These squid prefer not to lead a solitary existence, often schooling together when a predator is near.
I had never encountered a nautilus on display until walking through the Tentacles exhibit. These are intriguing creatures, appearing at once to be part snail and part squid. In fact, they have both eight legs, two retractable tentacles and a hard shell like that of a snail. The Chambered Nautilus is a creature that has stood the test of time, with remains pointing to them living over 100 million years ago. The nautilus also has a unique means of transportation, moving through the water by jet propulsion.
Cuttlefish are by far the most adorable creatures on display within the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Tentacles exhibit. These small creatures scuttle across the water, looking very much like small beatles. The Flamboyant Cuttlefish scoots across the ocean floor appearing to walk on his arms and skin flaps. He changes colors vibrantly as he goes along.
Stumpy Cuttlefish native to Malaysia and the Philippines feed near the sea floor and hide themselves within coral, sand and algae to escape predators.
Along the Tentacles exhibit, visitors will find a variety of ways to learn about the sea creatures surrounding them, including interactive features like the Ceph Yourself station, where you can create a video of yourself exhibiting the colors of a specific cephalopod on exhibit according to your facial expression, and have the chance to see it displayed on the screen above.
The Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes exhibit officially opened April 12, 2014 and will remain open until Labor Day 2016, so be sure to stop in and see it before it is gone. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has taken an innovative role in cultivating and breeding species of cephalopods that have never been bred before. Because of their naturally short life spans, over two dozen species of cephalopods are being bred behind the scenes, being swapped out on display from time to time. This means that each time you visit, you are almost sure to see something new!
Admission into the Tentacles exhibit is included with regular admission to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Admission prices are $39.95 for adults, $24.95 for children ages 3-12, $34.95 for students ages 13-17 and $34.95 for seniors. Here’s a little travel tip though, purchase your tickets through your hotel directly, and you may be able to score two day tickets from the price of one day passes.
I truly hope you will stop in and experience the Tentacles exhibit if you are planning a trip to the area, as it is just that, a unique and exciting experience for anyone interested in sea life.