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 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 (Shailene Woodley) and Corey (Douglas Smith) 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 (Shailene Woodley) 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.