Monterey Bay Aquarium is Great!

Striped Pyjama Squid

Scrawled Filefish

Sea Gooseberry

Orange Sea Nettles

Baja Tropical Reef Tank

Orange Garibaldi

Sea Otters Sleeping on Beach Nearby at Moss Landing

Sea Otters Returning to Water

Sea Otter and Sea Gull

Raft of Sea Otters

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a wonderful place to visit – it is one of the top aquariums in the country!  It is located on the beautiful California coast south of San Francisco.  Up to 2,000 gallons per minute of fresh sea water constantly flows through the exhibits.  

We especially enjoyed seeing a recent display featuring the striped pyjama squid.  These shy cuttlefish have never been shown in the United States before now.  More info is at:  https://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/138692614238/were-geeking-out-over-the-newest-addition-to-our

Animators from Pixar Studios visited the aquarium before animation began on the movie “Finding Dory”.  They studied octopus, sea otters, and shorebirds in detail.  That attention to detail shines through in the film, and hopefully inspires a new generation of children to love the ocean too!

San Diego: Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma Lighthouse

Rocky Tide Pool Area on Coast

Rocky Tide Pool Area on Coast

Beautiful View of San Diego from  Cabrillo National Monument

Beautiful View of San Diego from
Cabrillo National Monument

Statue of Cabrillo

Statue of Cabrillo

Point Loma Lighthouse

Point Loma Lighthouse

3rd Order Fresnel Lens In Lighthouse Museum

3rd Order Fresnel Lens In Lighthouse Museum

Prismatic Colors of Fresnel Lens

Prismatic Colors of Fresnel Lens

Overlook of Gray Whale "Highway"

Overlook of Gray Whale “Highway”

A popular place to visit near San Diego is Cabrillo National Monument.   At the park’s southern end are some of the most accessible tidepools in southern California.  The rocky trails there overlooking the Pacific Ocean are very scenic.  Nearby stands a statue of Juan Cabrillo overlooking beautiful San Diego Bay.  It commemorates his landing there in 1542.  At the top of Point Loma Peninsula stands the old Point Loma Lighthouse.  It was in active service from 1855-1891, but was retired because the light was often above the fog line and was thus invisible.  A short stroll from the lighthouse leads to the Gray Whale Overlook.  It is an excellent place to watch for whale spouts in winter. 

Emma Minter, who lived at the lighthouse as a child in 1878, said:  “What had I for playthings?  The nicest in the world!  Pretty shells, colored stones, kelp babies.  It seems to me that I can remember every day of my young life there.”  

Information on visiting Cabrillo National Monument is at:  https://www.nps.gov/cabr/index.htm

Catalina Island: Beautiful Tile Pottery

Orange Garibaldi Fish

Orange Garibaldi Fish Tile

Seal in Kelp Forest Tile

Seal in Kelp Forest Tile

Boat Spotting Flying Fish Tile

Boat Spotting Flying Fish Tile

Flying Fish Tile

Flying Fish Tile

Sea Lions Tile

Sea Lions Tile

Humpback Whales Tile

Humpback Whales Tile

Pelican at Sunset Tile

Pelican at Sunset Tile

Yellow Birds Tile

Yellow Birds Tile

Catalina Casino Tile

Catalina Casino Tile

Avalon, California, is famous for its historic Catalina tile. Pottery and tiles from 1927-1937 were made in Avalon from the island’s red clay and then glazed with local minerals. Vintage Catalina tiles are now a hot collector’s item. Tiles were decorated in four primary colors: Catalina blue, Descanso green, Toyon red, and Manchu yellow. Tiles often feature island scenes and animals, along with patterns and geometric shapes. Beautiful historic tiles and murals can be viewed throughout town, and reproductions are available in gift shops. In 2013 the City of Avalon celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Catalina Island: Flying Fish!

Historic Catalina Flying Fish Tour Boat Blanche W

Historic Catalina Flying Fish Tour Boat Blanche W

Vintage Spotlights

Vintage Spotlights

Vintage Flying Fish Spotting Postcard

Vintage Flying Fish Spotting Postcard

Vintage Catalina Flying Fish Postcard

Vintage Catalina Flying Fish Postcard

Summer Flying Fish Festival Logo

Summer Flying Fish Festival Logo

1915 Postcard Featuring Child Feeding Old Ben the Sea Lion at Dock

1915 Postcard Featuring Child Feeding Old Ben the Sea Lion at Dock

The waters offshore Catalina Island deliver a special treat to visitors in summer – the chance to view flying fish at night. We went out on the historic wooden boat Blanche W. built in 1924. The boat was named after chewing gum magnate William Wrigley’s first granddaughter, and features open air mahogany benches in the back. Spotlights (vintage World War One, 40-million candle-power) mounted on the front of the boat were used to scan the water for fish. At one point we watched a pelican join in the fun by diving for fish when they jumped out of the water. What a memorable night! A wonderful TV show about Catalina’s flying fish by Huell Howser of “California’s Gold” is at:  https://blogs.chapman.edu/huell-howser-archives/1999/08/01/flying-fish-californias-gold-1009/

Catalina Island: Underwater Tour

Semi-Submersible Tour

Semi-Submersible Tour

Underwater Viewing

Underwater Viewing

Abundant Fish by Windows

Abundant Fish by Windows

Kelp Bass

Kelp Bass

Bright Orange Garibaldi

Bright Orange Garibaldi

Santa Catalina Island Kelp Forest Creatures Identification Guide

Santa Catalina Island Kelp Forest Creatures Identification Guide

When we visited Catalina Island, we went on an underwater semi-submersible tour (other ways to view sea life include snorkeling, diving, and glass bottom kayaking). Numerous marine preserves surround the island and protect vast numbers of fish. Our favorite fish was the orange garibaldi – they are very feisty and often approach divers (learn more at http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/fishes/garibaldi). The fun part of the tour was never knowing what we’d see next!

Monterey Bay Aquarium: Wild Baby Sea Otter Born in Outdoor Tidepool

Holiday e-Card by Monterey Bay Aquarium

Holiday e-Card by Monterey Bay Aquarium

A wild baby sea otter was born in the outdoor tidepool at Monterey Bay Aquarium, California, on December 20, 2015.  The cutest present to the Aquarium ever!  The mother and pup have direct access to the ocean and are free to come and go as they please.  Links and adorable pictures are at:

http://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/135606363553/the-squee-heard-round-the-world

http://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/135726438723/wild-otter-mom-and-pup-update

The picture above was posted online by the Aquarium on Christmas Day:  http://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/135916080178/may-your-holiday-season-be-warm-and-bright-thank

UPDATE March 5, 2016:  Another wild mother sea otter gave birth in the Monterey Bay Aquarium tidepool!  Read about it and watch video at:  https://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com/post/140578637168/welcome-to-the-world-little-otter

Long Beach, California, Scenery: Real and Fake

Point Fermin Lighthouse

Point Fermin Lighthouse

Point Vicente Lighthouse

Point Vicente Lighthouse

Lions Lighthouse for Sight

Lions Lighthouse for Sight

Lions Lighthouse for Sight at Night

Lions Lighthouse for Sight at Night

Parker Lighthouse Restaurant

Parker Lighthouse Restaurant

Whale Mural on Long Beach Arena

Whale Mural on Long Beach Arena

Fake Oil Island

Fake Oil Island

Oil Island "Condo" Tower to Conceal Rigging

Oil Island “Condo” Tower to Conceal Rigging

We enjoyed our visit to Long Beach, California, in August.  Some of the scenery was real, and some of it wasn’t what it appeared to be.  All of it was fun to see!

The Point Fermin Lighthouse is located 9 miles north of Long Beach.  This Victorian home is one of the oldest lighthouses on the West coast.  It was restored in 2002, and the house and colorful garden are open for tours.  Eight miles north, the Point Vicente Lighthouse sits on a cliff edge on the Pacific Ocean.  This now-automated and functioning light station was built in 1926.

At Long Beach Harbor are two unofficial lighthouses.  The scenic tower of the Lions Lighthouse for Sight is a symbol for fundraising activities for the blind.  It is lit up with colorful floodlights at night.  Another unofficial light sits in a tower at the top of Parker’s Lighthouse Restaurant.   Both functioning lights act as private aids to navigation.

Not to be missed nearby is the whale mural (Wyland Whaling Wall) on the Long Beach Arena.  It stands 10 stories tall, and was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest mural when it was painted in 1992.  The whales on it are life-size.

Long Beach is famously known as one of the top five oil fields in the nation.  Fake “islands” were created there in 1965 to conceal offshore oil drilling rigs and to enhance the natural beauty of the area.  The closest THUMS island (Texaco, Humble, Union, Mobil, and Shell) is located ½ mile offshore.  These unique islands were designed by Disneyland architect Joseph Linesch.  Each one contains fake buildings to conceal oil rigging machinery and real flowing waterfalls to obscure sound.  Each island contains about 300 palm trees and 300 oil wells, and a wealth of marine life surrounds it underwater.  The overall effect is so convincing that visitors regularly ask how they can stay there. The islands were named after the four astronauts who died in a capsule fire on a NASA launch pad in 1968 (Grissom, White, Freeman, and Chaffee).  The islands celebrated their 50th anniversary of operation in October 2015.  You can watch an interesting television show about the islands by Huell Howser of California’s Gold at: https://blogs.chapman.edu/huell-howser-archives/2008/01/10/oil-islands-californias-gold-10002/

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