Monday, October 4, 2010

59-Year-Old Idea Realized

Knute Hovden thought that an Aquarium on Ocean View Boulevard in Monterey (CA) might prove to be a successful venture He received a letter from the superintendent of the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco telling the owner of the largest cannery in Monterey that he was right. The letter to Mr. Hovden was dated November 12, 1925.

Hovden may simply have been satisfied with having his idea confirmed or may have had more pressing things on his mind, because the letter was simply filed away. Nothing was done about the aquarium idea.

At the time, Monterey was on the way to becoming the Sardine Capitol of the World, and for the nine-year-old Hovden Cannery--business was good. The cannery was the largest on Cannery Row.

However, over the next 30 years the surrounding area was overfished, and the canneries failed after the collapse of the fishing industry. In his investigation of where the sardines had gone, marine bioligist Ed Ricketts finally concluded, "They're in cans."

(Ricketts would later become a character, "Doc," in John Steinbeck's 1945 novel Cannery Row.)

By canning squid, the Hovden Cannery managed to stay open the longest, finally closing its doors in 1973.

As the cannery was being dismantled, building materials and cannery machinery were salvaged. Portions that were sound enough to be incor-porated into the new building structure include the pumphouse and the entire warehouse fronting David Avenue.

The new building? The Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Mr. Hovden's early idea was realized--fifty-nine years later--with the opening of the Aquarium in 1984.

The Aquarium's initial financial backing was provided by David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard

My cousins had strongly recommended that we visit the Aquarium when they learned we were going to be in Monterey. As soon as we saw the first displays, we knew why their recommendations were so strong.

We walked through many rooms, all darkened with only the exhibits themselves being lighted. Many of the exhibit spaces were small, maybe 3'x4', but others were much larger.

We were caught up by the effect of the music with the floating motions of the jellyfish. The music seemed to feature New Age artists, such as the music by Windham Hill artists on the "Winter Solstice" CD. This group of four photos (Photos 6-9) features sea nettles.

Photo 1: The first photo in today's entry shows a portion of a tank with mackerel all swimming in one direction--all except one (top, center) which is swimming against the flow.

Photo 2 shows a Purple Striped Jellyfish.

Photos 3 and 4 show Moon Jellyfish.

Photo 5 shows an Egg Yolk Jellyfish.

Photo 10 shows a Lion's Mane Jellyfish.

Photos 11 and 12 show Crystal Jellyfish.

The Secret Lives of Seahorses: the largest collection of seahorse species in the United States, with more than 15 species of seahorses and their kin, one of the most interesting and charasmatic animals (Photos 13 and 14).

I think these next two photos show a Weedy Sea Dragon and

a Leafy Seadragon.

The exhibit "Hot Pink Flamingos" tells the story of Hope in a Changing Sea. This compelling exhibit tells the story of climate change through the eyes of tropical wading birds.

The daily sea otter program, where trainers feed and train the Aquarium's group of rambunc-tious sea otters, all of which are rescued animals that could no longer survive in the wild.

I believe these last four photos show different kinds of sea anemone.

Our two and one-half hours at the Aquarium were not nearly enough to study all the exhibits.

(The background information presented here is from Roger Powers' 1997 book Harvest: Stories of Steinbeck Country.)

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