Monterey Bay's ecological renaissance

Monterey Bay has gone from toxic soup to pristine waters supporting sea otters, whales, and a thriving kelp forest. What we’re learning here might just save our oceans

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Get a nerd’s-eye view

How to see the same creatures and ocean features the Monterey Bay scientists study—on land or out on the water.

Monterey Bay Aquarium. The best in the world, with mesmerizing exhibits of sea otters, jellyfish, and more. New in summer 2013: Cindy’s Waterfront cafe from star chef Cindy Pawlcyn. montereybayaquarium.org

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center. This center lets you explore a two-story version of the Monterey Submarine Canyon; the deck has a fine view of Santa Cruz Wharf and the bay. montereybay.noaa.gov

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. One of the largest tidal marshes in California, a haven for egrets, herons, and sea lions, all easily seen from reserve trails or a kayak. elkhornslough.org

Kayak tours. Nothing gets you closer to the bay’s marine life than a kayak. Outfitters include Monterey Bay Kayaks (montereybaykayaks.com), Kayak Connection (kayakconnection.com), and Adventures by the Sea (adventuresbythesea.com).

MBARI. July 20 is the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute’s annual open house—the one day you can see its impressive fleet of robotic underwater vehicles. mbari.org

Long Marine Lab/Seymour Marine Discovery Center. This center in Santa Cruz has one of the world’s largest whale skeletons, plus guided tours on which you see the lab’s two on-site dolphins. seymourcenter.ucsc.edu

Whale-watching. Humpback and blue whales frequent the bay from May into December; grays from December to April. Outfitters include Monterey Bay Whale Watch (gowhales.com) and Princess Monterey Whale Watching (montereywhalewatching.com).

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