Monday, April 22, 2002

San Francisco to Sydney - Day 8

Day 8 : Monterey

Monterey is famous for its aquarium, and we spent most of today walking among and photographing the aquarium's nearly 200 galleries and exhibits. The brochure that we were handed as we entered claims that the aquarium is home to 250,000 creatures. I think Debbie and I have at least one photo of each of them.

It's not just the sheer number of creatures that makes the aquarium impressive, it's the variety too. During our visit, we saw penguins, otters, at least half-a-dozen species of water birds and countless types of jellyfish, rays, octopi, starfish, sharks and anemones.

Jellyfish in Monterey Bay Aquarium The aquarium's most recent exhibit is one showcasing the variety of jellyfish in existence. After seeing the exhibit, it's hard not to acknowledge that there is some beauty in these gelatinous blobs, but they still look to me as if they're just a prototype for some other, more substantive creature.

More Jellyfish in Monterey Bay Aquarium In total, Debbie and I spent over 4 hours at the aquarium. The best line I heard all day came from a man with a thick, Brooklyn accent who, on arriving at an exhibit of fish, commented to his wife "Dover Sole and Picale Sole! Dere's some good-eatin' fish in dere Francine". I was almost expecting him to bait up and cast in a line.

Apart from the jellyfish, another weird creature we saw at the aquarium was a Wolf-eel. It's neither wolf nor eel, but sort of combines the ugly characteristics of each, and it has earned a reputation amongst divers for being able to bite through a broomstick. This strikes me as a particularly unusual measure of animal chomping power and one that would prove difficult in practice to use for cross-species comparison, save for an extremely small subset of species that were sufficiently short-sighted and adventurous of diet, or omnivorous in the broadest sense of the word.

I was also amused to read that octopi have no real sense of shape and so treat everything they encounter as potentially ingestible. The first hurdle for a courting male is, therefore, to convince the female that he isn't lunch.

Cannery Row We returned to our hotel via Cannery Row. This is the part of the town that once housed fish canning facilities but has now been turned over to retail shops pedalling tourist-bait. There are gift shops, art galleries and souvenir shops; there's even a wax museum. We succumbed to none of it, preferring instead to save our money for a Thai dinner.

Originally posted by TC

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