Today, more than 30 years after opening, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a showcase for the habitats and sea life of one of the world's richest marine regions.

More than 35,000 creatures representing over 550 species fill 34 major galleries. With nearly 200 exhibits in all, the Aquarium is a window to the wonders of the ocean.


July 7, 1916:
Knut Hovden opened his cannery on the current site of the Aquarium
The Pacific Fish Company, the first major canning operation on Cannery Row
The Hovden Cannery closed after the sardine fishery collapsed
November 1977:
Plans began to take shape for a world-class aquarium showcasing the unique marine environment of Monterey Bay
Julie Packard and a model of the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Founders of the Monterey Bay Aquarium
April 1978:
A group of marine scientists, local residents and members of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation of Los Altos, California, formed the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation. Initial construction costs for the Aquarium, which ultimately total $55 million, were provided through a one-time personal gift from David and Lucile Packard.
October 20, 1984:
Opening day! The Aquarium opened its doors to 10,681 its first day
Opening day Monterey Bay Aquarium
School programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
March 1985:
Programs for schoolchildren began
April 1986:
The Aquarium gained movie-star status appearing in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek filming at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
AZA logo
October 1986:
The Aquarium was awarded accreditation from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA)
Summer 1987:
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) was founded
September 1994:
Tuna Research and Conservation Center was established
March 1996:
Outer Bay opened its doors after seven years of work
Open Sea Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
SORAC otter pup
Summer 1998:
The Sea Otter Program revitalized its mission
October 1999:
Seafood Watch online program and consumer guide to sustainable seafood choices were created
Seafood Watch card
African penguin
April 2000:
Splash Zone exhibit opened
September 2004:
A white shark went on exhibit—the only one on exhibit anywhere in the world
White shark
Zebrasnout seahorse
April 2009:
Special exhibition, The Secret Lives of Seahorses, opened, becoming the Aquarium's most popular temporary exhibit ever
April 2014:
Special exhibition, Tentacles:
The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes, opened, presenting some of the ocean's most engaging animals
Giant Pacific Octopus
Monterey Bay Aquarium Great Tidepool Deck
October 20, 2014:
The Aquarium celebrated 30 years of inspiring ocean conservation through its exhibits, education, research and conservation programs and much more