The Monterey Bay Aquarium may be one of the few changes to Cannery Row that would be deemed an improvement by Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts. Built on the bones of Hovden’s, one of the largest and earliest canneries along the Row, with more than 1 million visitors annually the aquarium is Monterey’s major tourist attraction and a world class marine biology research resource.
Ricketts pioneering work in marine ecology inspired biologists at the adjacent Stanford Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove to conceive the idea of the aquarium in 1977. The Packard Foundation funded their project that opened in 1984 to exhibit the marine life of Monterey Bay and encourage conservation of the oceans worldwide.
Today more than 35,000 creatures representing over 550 species fill 34 major galleries. With nearly 200 exhibits, the facility is a showcase for the habitats and sea life of one of the world’s richest marine regions. An exhibit of former cannery laboratory and manufacturing equipment is near the entrance.