Friday, September 7, 2012

A trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium

We took a break from at home science to venture out to a place J has never been before, The Monterey Bay Aquarium. I'll save you from the slideshow of family photos we took and stick to the science. Keep in mind, though I do specialize in "bio"mechanics, my marine biology knowledge ends with 6th grade life science and 9th grade biology.

J was drawn to the colorful exhibits, like the coral reefs. This one was fun because it used a magnifying glass enlarge pieces of the exhibit. J was mesmerized, as I think it was his first time realizing what magnifying glasses can do: little things look bigger!

Anything that he can touch instantly becomes his favorite. The touch pools were very nice. We talked mainly about starfish and how many legs they have, how they feel, where they live. In the pic below, he's touching an abalone.

This is a starfish hiding in an old shell of an abalone. Some sea animals blend into their backgrounds as a survival tactic.

We fought the crowds for a front row seat at the penguin feeding. J was more interested in the penguins bathing themselves (they were easier to see swimming around and honestly were cuter than penguins eating). J picked up on the way penguins eat! He asked, "Mommy, why do they wiggle while they eat?" The answer - they don't chew their food and that's how they swallow the fish, whole. He raised his hand to ask the handlers a question but was never called on. He wouldn't tell us what he would have asked.

Speaking of feedings, we saw the Kelp Forest feeding, with lots of fish and small sharks. The questions J came up with basically revolved around why the diver looked like he did and why he was breathing funny.

Answers: Why do divers wear a mask and make funny noises?  People need air to breathe, and we can't breathe air in the water. The diver brings in air from above in the form of a tank on his back. His mask is attached to this air, allowing him to breathe. The funny noises come from the way people breathe using a tank magnified by the microphone the diver was using to communicate to the volunteer during the feeding.

Why do divers look the way they do?  (This was actually in the form of about 10 questions on why the diver was wearing gloves,  pants, etc.) I had to remind J, "How did the water feel when you were touching the starfish?" Ocean water is cold. The wetsuit + gloves helps keep the divers warm. 

Why does the diver have flippers? To help them swim.

The jellies are my favorite, so I'll stick them in here and give a shout-out to my mom who was on the 2nd season of Family Feud and answered, "What animal can kill with its bite?" with, "Jellyfish!" She got X'ed and still gets a hard time from her family (and us). However, jellyfish can be extremely dangerous (though I wouldn't say they "bite"). I personally love their angelic motion through the water (of course in the exhibit - I have yet to encounter one in the wild).

The following picture was a fun site. I apologize for quality of the photo, as the exhibit was dark and the fish and hammerhead shark was at the bottom of the exhibit. J was the first to spot the shark. Then it was fun to see the shark always have a circle around him that was fish-free (smart fish). It was an excellent opportunity to bring up the food chain and that animals eat other things and animals to help them grow and stay alive.

I've always loved sea turtles, and this one seemed so friendly and playful. The children squealed with delight as they tried to reach the turtle who came down to visit a few times. It's amazing to compare their size to humans.

We hope you enjoyed our field trip to Monterey Bay. We had so much fun.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jess,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Monterey to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon!