Life on the Bay
The Aquarium sits perched on the edge of Monterey Bay. Our ocean view decks offer a great vantage point to spot wildlife, from sea otters to humpback whales. In the Marine Mammal Gallery, you'll find life-size models of whales and dolphins swimming overhead, and learn about life on the bay.
Look for marine life and sailboats on Monterey Bay.
Pacific white-sided dolphin
These dolphins keep close company. White-sided dolphins swim in herds numbering in the thousands. Members form a close-knit group and will often care for a sick or injured dolphin. Animals that live in such big social groups develop ways to keep in touch. Each dolphin identifies itself by a unique name-whistle. Staying close helps, too.
Southern sea otter
To stay warm in chilly ocean waters, otters wear the world’s densest fur. At its thickest, this two-layer fur is made up of more than a million hairs per square inch. (You’ve probably got 100,000 hairs or less on your whole head!)
Pelagic cormorants live along open, windswept coasts. They nest along with other cormorants and other seabirds on steep, remote cliffs where they’re safer from predators. Unlike Brandt's cormorants, which sometimes hunt cooperatively, pelagic cormorants hunt alone, often diving into heavy surf for crabs, worms and small fishes.
This wonderful bird has a distinctive large pouch that hangs from the lower half of its long, straight bill. Brown pelicans are gray-brown, with dark wings and white heads with a yellowish crown. Since this bird often sits on breakwaters, jetties and wharf pilings, you might be lucky enough to get a close-up view of its yellow eyes, black legs and black, webbed feet. These birds are gregarious, usually flying in flocks. Their flight pattern may be a straight line or a V formation, with their powerful wing strokes alternating with short glides.
More Life on the Bay Animals
California sea lion
Life on the Bay Cool Facts
- Monterey Bay is part of a National Marine Sanctuary stretching from near San Francisco to south of San Simeon—a distance of about 5,300 square miles.
- More than 30 species of marine mammals live in or pass through the bay, ranging in size from the four-foot-long sea otter to the hundred-foot-long blue whale.
- Ever-popular harbor seals and sea otters are year-round residents of Monterey Bay and are visible right from the Aquarium decks.
- There are 94 kinds of seabirds found locally, including the California brown pelican and the western snowy plover.
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