View of Monterey Bay and the Aquarium back deck during sunrise

MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM 35TH ANNIVERSARY

Celebrating 35 Years of Inspiring Conservation of the Ocean

Your generous support has helped make these milestones possible. Thank you.



  • |

    1985

    Free admission for schoolchildren begins; we've hosted over 2.5 million students to date.

    Two young guests wearing paper crafted hats
  • |

    1987

    David Packard's vision for deep-sea research guides the creation of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

    MBARI ROV hanging from a vessel out at sea
  • |

    1988

    Whalefest launches our innovative, always-changing special exhibition program.

    Guests interacting with a Whalefest exhibit in the Aquarium
  • |

    1989

    We succeed in raising and returning a stranded sea otter pup to the wild. Now, descendants of those first animals are helping restore vital coastal habitats.

    A wild otter and pup floating in Monterey Bay
  • |

    1994

    With Stanford University, we create the Tuna Research and Conservation Center at Hopkins Marine Station.

    Illustration of a bluetin tuna from the side
  • |

    1996

    The Open Sea galleries open to the public.

    View of multiple jellyfish exhibits in the Open Sea gallery
  • |

    1999

    Seafood Watch debuts as a consumer pocket guide. Now, our program is a leading science-based global standard for sustainable seafood.

    A Seafood Watch guide propped on rocks overlooking Monterey Bay and Fisherman's Wharf
  • |

    1999

    We launch the Young Women in Science program to encourage teenage girls to stay engaged in math and science.

    Young women making science observations on a dock
  • |

    2000

    Our Splash Zone family galleries open — the first-ever children's museum inside an aquarium.

    A young guest in the Splash Zone, year 2000
  • |

    2004

    We make history as the first aquarium in the world to successfully exhibit a white shark and return it to the wild.

    Illustration of a white shark
  • |

    2006

    We welcome Makana, a Laysan albatross who still helps us raise public awareness about threats from ocean plastic pollution.

    Close-up of Laysan albatross Makana in front of the Kelp Forest exhibit
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    2006

    We launch our Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats program, a long-term education partnership that fosters ocean conservation as a cultural norm.

    Teens conducting research studies in Elkhorn Slough
  • |

    2008

    A stranded sea otter pup, rescued by our team and one of the first to be raised by a surrogate mother, gives birth to a pup of her own in the wild.

    Close-up of a sea otter pup's face head-on
  • |

    2011

    Gov. Jerry Brown signs into law an Aquarium-sponsored bill that bans the shark fin trade in California.

    A shark swimming with it's fins above the surface of the ocean
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    2014

    Tentacles: The Astounding Lives of Octopuses, Squid and Cuttlefishes debuts to wide acclaim as the most diverse exhibit about cephalopods in the world.

    Main Aquarium building decorated with giant tentacles emerging from the rooftops
  • |

    2015

    We host "Big Blue Live," a live television event that celebrates Monterey Bay as an ocean conservation success story of global significance.

    Julie Packard and others holding up big blue live stickers on the Aquarium back deck
  • |

    2016

    California voters uphold a statewide ban on single-use plastic carryout bags — the first law of its kind in the nation and one for which we campaigned in a big way.

    A pile of buttons used to promote Prop 67; Yes to a plastic-free ocean
  • |

    2017

    We become the first institution in the world to culture the stunning and fragile spotted comb jelly, and one of only a handful of aquariums to hatch and raise chambered nautilus.

    Close-up of a spotted comb jelly
  • |

    2018

    Our Juli Plant Grainger Animal Care Center opens, allowing us to expand ocean animal health care and provide training opportunities for aspiring veterinarians in conservation medicine.

    Dr. Mike standing in the renovated animal care center
  • |

    2018

    We help put the ocean on the agenda at the Global Climate Action Summit when Executive Director Julie Packard introduces an ocean-focused plenary session.

    Julie Packard speaking behind a podium at the Global Climate Action Summit
  • |

    2018

    To advance global seafood sustainability, we partner with Red Lobster, the world's largest seafood restaurant company, and advise top international seafood producers.

    Close-up of Red Lobster building and signage
  • |

    2019

    Our new Bechtel Education Center welcomes its first students. The innovative new center will help us deliver the most robust suite of ecosystem-based education and youth development programs of any aquarium in the nation.

    Bechtel Education Center

Reflecting on our first 35 years, our original vision stands: The Aquarium will continue to amaze and delight families from all over the world, spark a love of science and nature in young people, offer a sanctuary for wonder and reflection, and become an experience infused in the lifetime memories of millions of people. Our next 35 years will be about putting that experience into action. Thanks to you, we are already on our way.