Big Little Lies at the Aquarium

We're as excited as you are for the return of Big Little Lies! The Golden Globe and Emmy-winning HBO series once again features the Aquarium — and the Monterey area's swoon-worthy scenery.

Check back here throughout the season for a look at the Aquarium locations that were featured in the series, and follow us on Twitter (@MontereyAq) for a deeper dive into Monterey Bay. You can also explore more filming locations throughout Monterey in this local guide.


Scene from Big Little Lies episode 7: Silhouette of two characterskissing in front of the Open Sea exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
EPISODE 7: JULY 21, 2019

Romance Bubbles Up

One of the few sweet spots in the intense season finale occurred when Jane (Shailene Woodley) and Corey (Douglas Smith) smooched in front of our Open Sea exhibit. The kiss took place during off-hours in front of a mesmerizing backdrop of bubbles. We activate the "bubble curtain" at night to help the animals navigate the space in the dark.

The million-gallon exhibit is indeed one of the most romantic spots at the Aquarium — we're even listed in The Best Places to Kiss in Northern California.

Want to re-enact your own pre-opening or after-hours kiss at the Open Sea exhibit? Our Romance Tours offer multiple options to personalize your special occasion, be it a marriage proposal, anniversary celebration, birthday milestone or other special occasion.

The Open Sea is one of the largest live marine community exhibits in the world. It's home to scalloped hammerhead sharks, green sea turtles, ocean sunfish, a shimmering school of sardines and other fascinating marine life. It's sure to be an unforgettable part of your visit, but if you can't make it in person you can watch our live Open Sea Cam to experience this wonderful place.


Scene from Big Little Lies episode 6: Characters conversing in the Aquarium as guests observe the touch pools in the background
EPISODE 6: JULY 14, 2019

Textures in the Touch Pool

Tide pool life is rich, dramatic and as chilly as Jane was toward Corey during their exchange at one of our Rocky Shore touch pools.

Though it takes some visitors a while to warm up to the animals in our touch pools, others are eager to carefully touch a spiny purple sea urchin, a super soft sea cucumber (despite its spiky appearance), or a skittering hermit crab. Would you want to investigate the interesting textures of marine algae? Our friendly volunteers love to share fun stories and facts about these interesting plants and animals, so don't be shy about asking questions!

Did you notice that this scene began with a shot of our wave crash tunnel in action? This popular exhibit, also one of our most dynamic, lets visitors experience the drama of a crashing wave — without getting caught up in it.


Scene from Big Little Lies episode 5: Characters on a kayak in the ocean
EPISODE 5: JULY 7, 2019

Out on the Bay

What better way to play hooky than kayaking in the Monterey Bay? This week, we see Jane and Corey kayaking along calm, kelpy waters at Whaler's Cove in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. This area is part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the largest protected ocean area off the continental United States that's part of central California's coast.

Another great way to experience the marine sanctuary is by tidepooling along the coast — marine life abounds under rocks and between cracks!


Southern sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
EPISODE 4: JUNE 30, 2019

Divas of drama

Wow, whatta lotta drama! There was so much emotional turmoil this week we thought you could use some fun by watching some of our own "Monterey 5" — Abby, Ivy, Kit, Rosa and Selka — frolic on our live Sea Otter Cam. For added cuteness watch the feeding and training sessions at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time, and scroll to the bottom of this page for more on our own little troublemakers.


Scene from Big Little Lies episode 3: Character speaking to waitress
EPISODE 3: JUNE 23, 2019

Dining out

There's nothing fishy about it — when Jane and Corey go out to dinner in this week's episode, Corey asks the waiter to find out how, exactly, the fish was sourced and whether it was sustainably raised. Asking "do you serve sustainable seafood?" is one of the most important things you can do next time you go out for a seafood meal. It starts the conversation and lets restaurants know that this is something you care about — an important step to keep generating demand for seafood that is sustainably caught or farmed.

Purse seines, pots, pens, ponds — the details of sustainability are complicated. That's why our Seafood Watch team sends advocates and scientists to work with fisheries, farmers, suppliers, restaurants and more to address ocean issues in the seafood supply chain and create a world where sustainable seafood is the only option on the menu.

Did you notice that Corey also brought up the issue of microplastic? Our most recent research found microplastic in deep-sea ocean food chains. Learn how plastic is ending up in the ocean and what you can do about it.


Scene from Big Little Lies episode 2: character using reusable materials while eating a meal
EPISODE 2: JUNE 16, 2019

Employee lounge

A scene from the June 16th episode showed character Jane and Corey having lunch in an employee lounge at the Aquarium. Did you notice Corey eating a kale salad with chopsticks out of a glass container? This detail is spot-on — it's common to see our staff using sustainable and reusable lunch utensils, like glass bowls, bamboo forks and stainless steel water bottles as part of our efforts to cut down on single-use plastic and reduce plastic pollution in the ocean. How many reusable items can you spot in this scene?

The Aquarium has a bigger staff than you might think — more than 575 employees work as animal care specialists, guest experience ambassadors, research scientists, policy advocates and more. Last year, more than 1,500 volunteers donated over 160,000 hours to support our mission. Interested in working or volunteering at the Aquarium? We'd love to have you join us!

Fun fact
Although driving is a common form of transportation in Monterey as in the rest of the U.S., a full 38% of Aquarium staff use alternative transportation to work — such as bikes, carpooling or buses — to help reduce our carbon footprint and help Monterey "go green".


Scene from Big Little Lies episode 1: characters interacting in Aquarium Discovery Lab
EPISODE 1: JUNE 9, 2019

Discovery Labs

The first episode on June 9 featured character Jane Chapman in our Discovery Labs. Our educators work with thousands of students and hundreds of teachers each year on hands-on lessons about Monterey Bay's marine habitats and the animals that live there.

The Discovery Labs are part of our long-term commitment to offer the most innovative suite of educational programs of any aquarium in the nation — free of charge. We're poised to substantially expand this programming with the opening of our new Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership — a historic investment in science education and youth development. Our focus on supporting learning represents a new hope for the future of the ocean.

In the episode, Jane introduces students to the red octopus. The normal color of a red octopus (Octopus rubescens) is red or reddish brown, but like other octopuses it can change quickly — in a fraction of a second — to yellow, brown, white, red or a variety of mottled colors. To communicate or court, an octopus might contrast with its surroundings. To hide, it will camouflage itself. It can also alter skin texture to match sand or a rocky surface.

Although it has excellent eyesight, a red octopus uses touch and smell to find food — thousands of chemical receptors and millions of texture receptors line the rims of its suckers. It scours the sandy seafloor to flush out small prey, or crawls in and out of rocky areas to hunt crabs and shrimp.

Previously on Big Little Lies

In the first season of Big Little Lies, the character Renata Klein (Laura Dern) is mentioned as being on the board of the Aquarium, and character Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) and son Ziggy (Iain Armitage) visit the Aquarium, then picnic at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove.

You’ve heard about the #Monterey5 of Big Little Lies, which returned June 9. Want to meet our own?


Collage of southern sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Sea otters (clockwise from top left) Abby, Ivy, Kit, Rosa and Selka can’t help but attract attention.

The five female sea otters on exhibit here are always up for fun and games, and sometimes get into a little innocent trouble, too. You can keep an eye on them through our live Sea Otter Cam, but better yet, see them in person when you visit.

If you identify with the nickname "wild child," you might be more like Ivy. Do you like eating frozen treats? Then you might be more like Abby. Read more about our own #Monterey5 and see which one you identify with.