Animals & Exhibits    >    Exhibits    >   

Monterey Bay Habitats

Explore the waters of Monterey Bay, where sharks and sturgeon glide through the deep reef, 200-pound giant sea bass lumber among the reef pilings and flatfish nestle in the sandy seafloor. This hourglass-shaped exhibit is over 90 feet long, and highlights five different habitats beneath the bay and the amazing creatures that live there.

Exhibit Highlights

You're watching video highlights of daily activity in this exhibit.

In this Exhibit

White sturgeon

This prehistoric-looking fish with whiskers isn't a shark, or a catfish. The white sturgeon is like no other fish! Instead of scales, five rows of bony plates (scutes) reach from its gills to its tail, covering its sandpaperlike skin. It also sports sharklike qualities including a cartilaginous skeleton and a sharklike tail.

California halibut

If you see a rather odd-looking fish lying or swimming on its side in the Monterey Bay Habitats exhibit, you're watching one of the flatfishes. If this flatfish has a large mouth and a lateral line that arches high over the side fin, it's a California halibut. Notice that both eyes are on one side and pointed upward. This side of the fish is brown or blackish with light and dark splotches—the side without eyes is usually white.

Broadnose sevengill shark

Look for this big beefy shark sitting on the bottom of the exhibit, or cruising through the deep reef. As its name suggests, a sevengill shark has seven pairs of gill slits (most sharks have only five). Its back and sides are reddish brown to silvery gray, or olive-brown and speckled with many small black spots. The shark's underbelly is cream colored. Other features include a wide head with a blunt nose and only one dorsal (top) fin—most sharks have two.

Big skate

Big skates have two large, black spots on their fins, which resemble large eyes. Scientists think these "eyes" might confuse predators or make a small skate look larger and less vulnerable to a hungry shark. 

Pacific spiny dogfish

As their name suggests, spiny dogfish sharks sport sharp, venomous (poisonous) spines in front of each dorsal fin. Their bodies are dark gray above and white below, often with white spotting on the sides.

More Monterey Bay Habitat Animals

Cool Facts

  • This exhibit was designed with sharks in mind—the hourglass shape gives our large sharks plenty of room to glide and turn. Gliding helps sharks get rid of metabolic wastes in muscle tissue.
  • Giant sea bass can reach 500 pounds but are so gentle they like to have their chins scratched by divers during feedings.
  • This exhibit holds 350,000 gallons of water and the acrylic windows are three to four inches thick.

Related Links