Monterey Bay a Superb Marine Sanctuary

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I became a member when my grandson was born. This trip we are celebrating his second birthday with multiple trips to the Aquarium.

As a member of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I try to visit as often as I can. Indeed, the entire Monterey Bay offers an opportunity to observe marine life. Just a few days ago a “superpod” of dolphins was caught on video by the Aquarium staff. As my 2 year old grandson would say, “Wow!”

https://www.npr.org/2018/09/07/645677562/watch-superpod-of-dolphins-seen-racing-off-california-coast

The Monterey Bay Aquarium gives those of us unable to snorkel or dive the opportunity to see life under the sea. The Open Sea exhibit has hammerhead sharks and two sea turtles. I spent at least 5 minutes watching the female octopus actively exploring her space.

The sea otters are favorites. Sometimes it is hard to appreciate them because of the crowds. My friend UK Sarah was reading Cannery Row by John Steinbeck and he didn’t mention sea otters. I double checked with the docents and they agreed the sea otters were almost hunted to extinction when Steinbeck was in Monterey County. They began to make a comeback in the mid-70s. The growing public support for marine life made it possible to establish the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 1992. The kelp forests are essential for the otters, yet without otters the urchins proliferate and eat the kelp forests. Thanks to the Aquarium’s education and conservation programs the Bay has become a much friendlier place for all marine life.

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I learned a few things on these visits to the Aquarium. Two year olds (not just Calvin) will vocalize in a way that sounds a lot like screaming like a monkey when they are frightened by the “ocean wave experience” or a scary fish. Mostly though they are in awe and very excited to take it all in.

And I still love the penguins!

 

Wildlife Safari on Kangaroo Island

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Bachelor kangaroo on KI

Such fun! Another friend suggested a I check out Kangaroo Island (KI) if I was going to be in Adelaide. I debated whether or not to spend a day away from the bike race for a wildlife safari. I am glad I did. It was terrific to spend the day relaxing and viewing the strange and wonderful animals of Australia.

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If you look really closely you may be able to see dolphins playing in the waves.

Signing up for a day trip to KI makes for a long day! I had a 6:15 pick up at my hotel, then a 2.5 hour bus ride to Cape Jervis. Then we boarded the SeaLink ferry for a short ride to Penneshaw. A guide from Kangaroo Island Odysseys picked me up with a family from Italy. Paolo was guiding me until we caught up with my group. All of the vehicles are top rate. We met up with my guide Nikki and I transferred to a smaller group–just one other American couple in a jeep-like vehicle.

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We had a full morning of viewing kangaroos, dolphins, pelicans, and wedgetail eagles before we stopped at Odysseys special camp for a gourmet lunch. We relaxed for a short while before we went on a bush walk on their private reserve and viewed koalas and found an echidna.

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The echidna is like a punked-out hedgehog. Charming!

Our guide, Nikki, was excellent at taking care of every detail and sharing her enthusiasm for KI. We saw so many species on found in Australia and it was delightful. We also learned the history of the island. As we stood watching the sea lions up close on the beach I realized I could drive 3 hours to the Monterey coast and watch California sea lions. Why wait till a big trip? Why not both?

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Nikki Redman is an amazing authority on the flora and fauna of KI. Pointing to a pile of wallaby bones, “Do you know what that is?” No one does. “Wassaby.” 🙂

The tours begin at $415 US and increase depending on size of group. There is also an option to spend the night and includes accommodation. My day was really long because I had the bus ride and ferry (round trip) included in my fee. The couple in my group flew on a small plane from Adelaide so they spent less time in transit (and more money). There may be more affordable ways to see KI, but I am not sure if you drove over (ferry accommodates autos) how much wildlife you would see without a guide.

You can see more photos and learn more about the experiences available on the Kangaroo Island Odysseys Facebook page.