Which creature has no head, heart or brain, and yet, is one the major predators that lives in the ocean? A sea jelly! Visitors to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, in Monterey, California, can view 16 species of jellyfish from around the world. Jellies, which are known for their stingers, have been around for hundreds of millions of years. Scientists keep discovering new types of jellies. Did you know that jellies can grow or shrink depending on the available food supply?
The aquarium’s featured exhibit, The Jellies Experience, offers more than just an opportunity to watch these fascinating creatures sway and drift. Six themed areas present interactive, hands-on ways of learning about jellies. Visitors can make virtual jellies pulse. Kids can turn themselves into kaleidoscopic images that resemble jellies’ symmetrical bodies. Visitors can also create jellies on a computer to set free in a virtual ocean.
A Little Piece of the Sea
Monterey Bay Aquarium features a three-story giant kelp forest, a million-gallon open-sea exhibit, sea otters and more. But what makes this aquarium different from many others is that it pumps water straight from the ocean into the exhibits. “We pump in 2,000 gallons a minute of seawater from the ocean. Most aquariums have to make their own seawater,” says Hank Armstrong, the aquarium’s vice president of communications. "Our exhibits look more lifelike than that of most aquariums because they are. They are a little piece of what’s out there.”
The Secret Lives of Seahorses is one of the aquarium’s most popular exhibits. It reveals some fun facts about seahorses. These animals are experts at blending in with their surroundings to keep predators away. The exhibit explains that seahorse dads carry the babies in pouches before giving birth to them.
What can visitors to the aquarium hope to see in the future? “I’m really excited, because we’re working on something we’ve never done,” says Armstrong. “We’re going to do a whole exhibit just on cephalopods, which are octopuses and their relatives.”
You Can Save the Oceans
Part of the aquarium’s mission is to inspire young people to learn about the sea and its creatures and to protect ocean life. What can you do to help save our oceans and the animals in them? Armstrong offers these tips: Don’t throw things into the ocean. Make sure you pick up and don’t leave your trash on beaches. Don’t throw plastic out into the ocean. Get involved in clubs at your school. And, when you get older, talk to your elected officials about protecting the oceans. Convince them that we need rules to make sure that oceans are not polluted and misused.
The Jellies Experience will be open until Labor Day 2014. For more information on the Monterey Bay Aquarium, visit montereybayaquarium.org.
Click here or scroll down to watch a video from Elise's visit.
The first sentence in this story has be changed to reflect the fact that jellies do not swim. They get around by pulsing and drifting.