But a closer look reveals a whole universe of life found on the constantly changing palette of blues, grays and blacks that make up the colors of the water in a zone known as the "pelagic" (from the Greek) or, more commonly, the open sea.
Jeffrey Triber, 1, of Gilroy tries to touch a juvenile green sea turtle while visiting the new Open Sea exhibit with his grandmother July 1 at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Conner Jay
So, as part of their continuing effort to give guests glimpses of things and places they've never seen before, the curators of the Monterey Bay Aquarium have opened "The Open Sea" — a unique exhibit attempting to replicate an area of the Pacific Ocean approximately 200 miles from the shores of Monterey.
It's an area they have nicknamed the realm of the "the vast and the fast," for its size and depth, and for the lightning-quick speeds of the predators that live there. What used to be known as the "Outer Bay" galleries have undergone an extensive makeover to reflect life in some of the least-explored parts of the Pacific, according to David Cripe, the aquarium's special exhibits coordinator.
"The idea behind this is to give the visitor an inkling of the life and light they might encounter way out there," Cripe said during a recent tour.
Visitors will find many of the same species in the Aquarium's premier 1 million gallon tank with its famed 54-foot-wide, 13-inch thick acrylic wall when it known as the "Outer Bay," Cripe said.
But now patrons will also see new species representative of many of the great migratory and schooling fish and other animals found where sharp winds whip up house-size swells and azure waters run deep — very deep.
Hiding in plain sight
The Open Sea exhibit, which opened July 2, also features a redesigned Ocean Travelers gallery that houses some of the ocean's most impressive long-distance swimmers and navigators, including young sea turtles and diving seabirds such as tufted puffins. One of the highlights includes a new interactive multimedia wall that's devoted to plankton, the microscopic animals that form the base of the food web in the oceans.