Tentacles on parade at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Tentacles on parade at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Tentacles on display

Tentacles on parade at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

“Wow that is awesome”, a wide-eyed kid blurts out to his friend who nods in agreement and adds ‘ yeah pretty cool!’ That is the typical consensus all day long at the new Tentacles exhibit which just opened at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – a new exhibit of never seen before collections of squids, octopus and cuttlefish, making up this family of sea life called Cephalopods. These marine sea creatures are marine mollusks related to sea slugs and snails. Because of the short lifespan of these Cephalopods (most living an average 6 months) and the complexities of maintaining this special exhibit, it has been a difficult venture, but something that the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium enthusiastically creates.



Tentacles exhibit

Big reef squid at the Tentacles exhibit





Big Fin Reef squid at the Tentacles exhibit

Big Fin Reef squid at the Tentacles exhibit



The Tentacles exhibit draws you in completely into its cool, dark and surreal world of fantasy like creatures, starting with the almost glow in the dark Cephalopods called Big Fin Reef Squid. These ghostly white creatures with invisible fins glide in strange sideways gestures unlike movements you would equate to these creatures, their zig-zag motions looks so strange and other-worldly. Close by are the even more colorful sea creatures called Chambered Nautilus with their distinctive round patterned shell that gives it their iconic name – propelling their huge shelled bodies in strange and fantastical rhythmic motions – it is mesmerizing to watch them in their environment.


Nautilus on display



The Tentacles exhibit is filled with wow factor –  showcasing Cephalopods that have never been seen in public and premiering in this show.  One of the most outstanding creatures are the colorful red octopus called Flapjacks found in the deepest and darkest areas of the ocean floor in Monterey Bay. Red lights illuminate the dim curved tank to mimic their dark environments and the flapjacks float around like bizarre strange ghost-like caricatures. Even more reclusive are the little amazing octopus genera called the Flamboyant Octopus getting their name from their colorful rainbow accents as they bump around and float in comical and random bumper car like motions.






Flamboyant cuttlefish at Tentacles

Flamboyant cuttlefish








Giant Octopus at Tentacles

Giant Pacific Octopus are active and hungry




The entire exhibit is very well laid out with interactive exhibits and child friendly educational tools and signage. This is one of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s most challenging and will soon to be popular exhibits – despite the difficulties of replenishing and maintaining the Cephalopod displays. In any case, you should come down soon to visit all the new and cool octopus, cuttlefish and squids at the show, and don’t be surprised if you are also ‘oohing’ and ‘aaahing’ throughout the entire exhibit.

 Here are some highlights from the other exhibit areas of the aquarium

Monterey bay sealife

Monterey bay sea life – main displays

Jellyfish at the Jellies exhibit

Jellyfish on display




See through Jellyfish on display at the Jellies exhibit

Jellyfish on display at the Jellies exhibit




Jellies exhibit

Jellyfish ballet




Outside of the new Tentacles exhibit, there are many popular on-going exhibits to discover at the aquarium including: the Jellies exhibit, Open Sea Exhibit, a whole section of plastics, junk and garbage taken from the ocean and turned into art and the permanent sea-life collections. There is so much to see at the aquarium that you can easily spend an entire day enjoying the exhibits, special events and even take a behind the scenes tour of the facilities to see how everything operates from the back-end.

Things to know before you go

Tickets are $39.95 for adults and $24.95 for children 3-12. Discounts are given for Seniors and Students.

The Aquarium is located on Cannery Row and is open daily. Check the website below for hours and more information.

Most hotels offer two-day passes for the price of one day, just ask with your hotel about this pass.

There are two dining options available at the aquarium – a casual cafeteria style and a fine dining restaurant called Cindy’s Waterfront named after Cindy Pawlcyn, the James Beard Award-winning creator of Mustards Grill in Napa Valley and the culinary partner of the aquarium since 2010.

For updated information on the aquarium, you can visit their website here.


If you enjoyed reading this post on the Tentacles on parade at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, please do share it with any of the social media buttons below, thanks so much for visiting.


My visit was part of the #Tentacles FAM tour, breakfast, early admission, seminar, and behind the scenes were hosted. All opinions are completely my own


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51 Responses to Tentacles on parade at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

  1. Garland January 7, 2016 at 6:09 pm #

    Me compre un Nikon D3200 en mis vacaciones (obviamente lei lo que escribiste sobre las mejores camaras!).

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  5. Bob R May 13, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    Interesting shots Noel. That Flamboyant Cuttlefish certainly lives up to its name. 🙂

    • Noel May 13, 2014 at 7:37 am #

      Yes, it hasn’t been shown in public before it, I think a first for Monterey Bay

  6. Linda May 9, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    Beautiful and captivating series!

  7. Catherine May 9, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

    I love sea creature, so fascinating to watch. Some really great photos here, you’ve captured the colours and the details so well.

  8. Ashley and Alex May 6, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    We absolutely love the Monterey Bay Aquarium! I think it is the best one I have ever been too! I love the otters and I’ve been trying to think of a reason to go back, plus tentacles are awesome so I see a day trip in our future!

  9. Jon @ jonistravelling.com May 6, 2014 at 5:02 am #

    Awesome photos, especially the jellyfish! This makes me want to go to an aquarium, or learn to dive.

  10. Jon @ jonistravelling.com May 6, 2014 at 5:01 am #

    Aweosme photos, especially the jellyfish! This makes me want to go to an aquarium, or learn to dive.

  11. Anu @ Country Hopping Couple May 4, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Wow! The aquarium seems so lovely, and so do the fishes! I am very bad at taking photos of the indoor aquarium where the light setting is really bad, and the fishes/sea mammals keep moving! Your pictures are just so perfectly composed!

  12. City Sea Country May 4, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    Great pictures. I like the video about the gracious Flapback Octopus.

  13. Bianca @itsallbee May 4, 2014 at 4:57 am #

    Great pictures. I am sure it would be even better seeing the fish right in front of you. Makes me wanna pass by the aquarium on London Southbank.

  14. Brianna May 4, 2014 at 4:18 am #

    I love your photos, the images of the big fin squid and the jellies.

  15. Heather May 3, 2014 at 8:51 am #

    These photos are so stunning! I love aquariums and am amazed by the diversity of marine life in our oceans!

  16. Eva Maria May 3, 2014 at 1:53 am #

    It looks absolutely amazing! Especially the octopus. I’ve never been to such a big Aquarium but it’s on my bucket list!

  17. Rashad Pharaon May 3, 2014 at 12:08 am #

    You capture the essence of marine life beautifully. I wonder what kind of camera gear you used to shoot these photographs? What kind of lens/settings? Love it!

    • Noel May 3, 2014 at 2:08 am #

      Off hand, I think I brought my Canon 7D and had 2.8 24-70mm lens, usually I shoot manual in a higher ISO to capture darker environments naturally

  18. Emily May 2, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Aquariums are my absolute favourite places! Really cool pics – especially those jellyfish 🙂

  19. Emily May 2, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    Aquariums are my absolute favourite places!! Totally cool pictures – especially those jellyfish 🙂

  20. Paul (@luxury__travel) May 2, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    Please tell me those tentacles on the roof also move 🙂

    Seeing the Nautilus takes me back my days of studying geology. I think I’m right in saying that is one of the oldest animals still alive on the planet today (if memory serves me correctly, around 200 million years old, but don’t quote me on that).

  21. Daidri | Thee Getaway Gal May 2, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Oh I’m so excited… I just read about this fun new Octopus exhibit at the aquarium and can hardly wait to go. I’m waiting a few weeks though until my niece gets here from Georgia. She’s 14 and this will be a fantastic little outing for her and I. Your picture are stunning and thanks for the tips!

  22. Dave Cole May 2, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    Beautiful shots of the jellyfish, you captured the colors very nicely. They are otherworldly creatures!

  23. Elena May 2, 2014 at 2:15 am #

    I loved the orange jellyfish, so beautiful…never seen them myself (and I´ve seen a lot of jellyfish)

  24. PurpleTravelKate May 1, 2014 at 11:56 pm #

    I love aquariums (aquaria!) This one looks great. I’d like to recommend the Atlantaquaria in Galway, Ireland, if you’re ever in the neighbourhood. So much fun, the staff were great and it was a really good day out, especially for kids!

  25. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} May 1, 2014 at 11:40 pm #

    You’ve captured this sea life so well that I was expecting the still shots to start moving around. Looks like a great exhibit. I didn’t realize there were octopus in Monterrey Bay.

  26. Raphael Alexander Zoren May 1, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    For some reason, Octopuses (Octopi?) have always scared me, seeing that photo with the tentacles against the screen really gave me goosebumps 😮

  27. Marcia May 1, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    Mesmerizing, Noel. I bet it was hard to stop watching them.
    Stunning photos!

  28. Mike Orobona May 1, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    I especially like the last few pictures of the jellies,

  29. Mike Orobona May 1, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    I especially like the last few pictures of done jellies,

  30. Marilyn Armstrong May 1, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    The jellyfish photos are just amazing!!

  31. The Crowded Planet May 1, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    Fantastic post. I love the pic with the three jellyfish, so well composed. I would love to visit a tentacle-themed aquarium exhibition, octopi are my favourite marine animals! Thanks for sharing!

  32. Illia May 1, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    I don’t know why but for some reason Nautilus has always excited me the most. It’s so unique and mysterious. Thanks for great photos.

  33. Charlie May 1, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Woaaah! So many tenticles on show! Always reminds me of that scene from ‘Oldboy.’

  34. Krista May 1, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    Beautiful pictures! I especially love the ones of the jellyfish, which I’m fascinated by. They’re so beautiful to see, but I certainly don’t want to see one in the wild!

  35. Samantha @mytanfeet May 1, 2014 at 7:01 am #

    I haven’t been to Monterey but it looks amazing. I studied cephalopods in college and they’re one of my favorite marine creatures, they’re absolutely fascinating! I’ll have to check out this exhibit, I’d want to stay there all day!

    • Noel May 1, 2014 at 7:31 am #

      Hi Samantha, Yes it is easy to spend an entire day here checking out all the amazing exhibits.

  36. Jennifer Dziekan May 1, 2014 at 7:01 am #

    Pictures are so lovely; the aquarium ought to be paying you…

  37. Karen Warren May 1, 2014 at 6:34 am #

    Lovely pictures – nice clear colours!

  38. Chris Boothman May 1, 2014 at 6:28 am #

    I must commend you for these pictures because I know that whenever you try to take pictures in a dark aquarium it can be really tough. You have done a great job here capturing the intricate details on some of those species.It does seem a little expensive but I am sure it is worth it.

  39. Leigh May 1, 2014 at 6:12 am #

    I think the Monterey Aquarium is an awesome place to visit – and that’s before the tentacles exhibit. I have no doubt I would be an enthralled as the kids.

  40. muzachan May 1, 2014 at 3:40 am #

    So cool 🙂

  41. Kathryn May 1, 2014 at 2:52 am #

    How wonderful! I am jealous beyond belief! The flapjack octopus and the nautilus look fascinating to watch and the first photograph of the jellyfish is absolutely stunning. Would love to see the bumper cars in action too. Fabulous post.

  42. Jackie De Burca April 30, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    Oooh Noel, you’re not joking about the WOW factor!! This is amazing, the colours are out of this world, at least out of the man-made world – and what a photo opportunity, that you took 200% advantage of!

  43. Jenna April 30, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    I love those photos of the squid and one in the shell. I agree with your observations of the tentacles exhibit, but, as you pointed out, the jellyfish exhibit is pretty amazing, too.

  44. alison April 30, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    Fantastic photos Noel. The creature in the red and white shell looked like something from Dr. Seuss. I’m always a sucker for the jelly fish exhibits at the aquarium. I find them so peaceful and calming, like your life slows down when you are watching them. We have a pretty amazing aquarium here in Boston too.

  45. Nancy D. Brown April 29, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    Gorgeous pictures. Love the four jellies with blue background.


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I look forward to hearing from you and continuing our discussion with any comment you would like to add

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