Jellyfish Exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium – Monterey, California - Atlas Obscura

Jellyfish Exhibit at Monterey Bay Aquarium

One of the most elaborate displays of Jellyfish is on display at the aquarium. 


Jellyfish are not often thought of as obscure or even useful organisms. Anyone who has ever stepped on one can attest to that. Subsequently, most aquariums discard jellies into a small, dark room in the back of the building. This is not the case at the at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or MBA, where dozens of different species of jellies enjoy an enormous, elaborate, and proper display. 

These ancient creatures, on Earth millions of years before humans, come in all shapes and sizes. They are a vital part of the ocean ecosystem and are even a food source for sea turtles and other marine life. Their recognizable umbrella-shaped bell and trailing tentacles are vital for survival. The bell of the jellyfish is used for movement, while the tentacles are used for capturing prey and defense. At the MBA, all of this is explained and more. 

Large, clear, glass tanks give visitors the perception that they could walk directly into the tank and submerge themselves among the jellies. It is a breathtaking sight to see, and is grandiose in comparison to other aquariums that only offer small exhibits. Lion’s mane jellyfish, Aurelia, and Scyphozoa are just three of the many varieties of jellies on display. 

There are dozens of other exhibits at the MBA for those too squeamish for jellyfish. These including sharks, sea turtles, aquatic plants, corals, and more. The jellyfish exhibit should not be missed, however, as it is a tremendous sight to see. 

Know Before You Go

The main jellyfish exhibit is located on the second floor of the east wing of the Aquarium. Look for a sign that says "The Open Sea." Its entrance has a circular tank going around the room filled with sardines.

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