MONTEREY, Calif. (KRON) — A new sign of California reopening is particularly special for ocean lovers.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium welcomed back members for the first time since the COVID pandemic began, and starting on Saturday, the aquarium will reopen for the general public.
“The aquarium was closed since March of last year. So it was a very long closure, and as you can imagine, that was a very trying time for all of us. But we are very excited to be back,” said David Rosenberg, the aquarium’s vice president of guest experience.
The aquarium’s staff used members-only days this week to try out their new COVID-safety protocols. A very limited number of visitors were allowed inside.
The overall atmosphere inside was filled with excitement and renewed appreciation for the ocean’s natural wonders.
Children beamed with enthusiasm, including one group of whooping youngsters who knew exactly where to run to find their favorite exhibit. Some of their parents were emotional coming back after being unable to visit for such a long time.
“Yesterday I saw some visitors who came back for the first time in 14 months, and as soon as they walked in … one of the mothers actually broke down in tears. It’s been such a special time,” Rosenberg said.
Fuzzy, friendly sea otters are the aquarium’s most iconic residents.
“Everybody knows how charismatic our sea otters are,” Rosenberg said.
One of the aquarium’s popular residents is the Giant Pacific Octopus, a highly intelligent animal with a lot of tricks up its eight tentacles. It can change colors in a flash to camouflage itself from predators.
For a more hands-on experience, visitors can pet the wings of bat rays, which feel like slime-drenched velvet.
Here’s what you and your family can do to plan your next aquarium visit: Reserve tickets in advance on MontereyBayAquarium.org because tickets will not be sold at the door. Once you’re inside, you must wear a facemask, social distance from other families, and follow a one-way path through the exhibits.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has been a voice on the world stage for ocean conservation since 1984. Its core mission is to inspire future generations to care about the oceans.