Art & Photography by Courtney Krishnamurthy
Art & Photography by Courtney Krishnamurthy

for the Love of Otters

I missed the San Jose Grand Prix, again. Not that it’s really a problem. Unlike last year, where I just sat on the couch the entire weekend, missing both the Grand Prix and the Garlic Festival, this year I opted for a cooler end of July weekend. I headed for the aquarium in Monterey.

This is the second time I’ve been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and while I wasn’t rushing as much as the first time, I didn’t get to see all of it. But, I did hit the highlights.

The boyfriend and I decided we wanted to see the Sharks & Myths exhibit before it ended in September. Since I will be out of state for most of August, we thought we’d better go while we had the itch to. Plus, when we weighed the options (hot downtown San Jose, pavement, and more heat from the cars, vs. the cool ocean breezes of Monterey and fish) we decided it wasn’t much of a competition. The exhibit did not disappoint, though we did sort of rush through it because it took us a while to find it. And, I kept getting distracted, wanting to show the boyfriend, who had never been here, all of the cool exhibits.

My first stop in the aquarium, as last time, was the sea otter tank. It’s central in the aquarium, and it’s my favorite spot. Otters of any kind have long been a favorite of mine, since my first visit to Bays Mountain’s otter exhibit in Kingsport, Tennessee. I could spend hours sitting and watching the otters float, swim, groom, and play. One of the things that made me fall in love with the Bay Area is that you are likely to see these playful creatures in the harbor or at the beach (or, if you don’t see otters, there’s a great likelihood of spying on sea lions or seals). One of the things that made me fall even more in love with the boyfriend was the night I saw an otter in the harbor, and he just enjoyed sitting there with me watching the otter for however long I wanted to be there. There was no rushing, we just sat there and watched the little guy play and twirl around in the dark, inky water.

Next, I drug him into the Jellies: Living Art and the Outer Bay exhibit. We spent lots of time there watching the huge bluefin tuna, the sunfish, a few sharks, and other miscellaneous fish swim around.

We did see lots of sharks during our tour. There were hammerheads and Galapogos sharks in the Outer Bay exhibit, we finally found the Sharks & Myths exhibit that had not only sharks but lots of rays, and we found our way to the shark tank after a brief stop watching the Kelp Forest (which had some sharks as well, and an ugly, ugly eel) which featured some beautiful leopard sharks as well as 7-Gill sharks and some more hammerheads and rays.

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera again this trip. So, for now I’ll just have to post an image of the sharks at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans (images from 2003). Next time, oh there will be a next time, I will not be without a camera. Although by then, the blacktip and whitetip reef sharks, zebra shark, pajama catshark, and all the other species that were featured in the Sharks & Myths exhibit will be gone. But maybe they’ll have another Great White by then! And, maybe I can get there earlier so I can devote an hour or two to chilling and watching the otters play…

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