‘¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge’ Special Exhibition Explores Colorful Life Along Gulf of California

New special exhibition at Monterey Bay Aquarium opens March 19, 2016, features unusual animals from land and sea, compelling conservation stories

Feb 24, 2016

Special Exhibitions

From sun-soaked deserts to vibrant tropical reefs, Baja California is a unique and fragile place. Just across the U.S. border, it’s a place where life thrives on the edge of sand and sea on a wild coast whose future hangs in a delicate balance.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s next special exhibition, “¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge,” explores this beautiful and rugged region, and the diverse habitats and amazing animals that thrive where Baja’s coastal deserts meet sapphire seas. It opens March 19, 2016.

Visitors will explore five galleries as they delve into Baja’s arid deserts, lush coastal mangrove forests and colorful coral reefs. Throughout the life of the exhibit they may come face to face with such fascinating marine creatures as: the Cortez round ray, Panamic green moray, Pacific seahorse and staghorn hermit crab, as well as a rainbow of tropical fishes, including the sunset and rainbow wrasse, Mexican lookdown, bluespotted jawfish and Cortez angelfish.

¡Viva Baja! also features iconic desert animals – a first for the aquarium – including a desert tortoise, desert iguana, mountain kingsnake, hairy scorpion and Western desert tarantula.

Along the way, visitors will discover how much we all are connected to this special place, which is only a few hundred miles south of Monterey, California.

“Life in Baja California thrives on the edge,” says Senior Exhibit Developer Raúl Nava. “We’re excited to introduce visitors to the remarkable animals that live here, and highlight how people in Mexico and around the world are working to protect this extraordinary place.”

As visitors experience Baja’s surprisingly diverse habitats, they’ll learn how those habitats and their native animals are threatened by drought, water diversion, overfishing, habitat destruction and coastal development. They’ll see how the aquarium, and other conservation organizations and communities in Mexico and the United States, are working hard to keep these lives on the edge also in balance.

¡Viva Baja! illuminates the many ways people are working to protect the unique wildlife of Baja California, including efforts to promote sustainable fisheries and protect coastal waters from development. Visitors will also learn about the importance of restoring the flow of the Colorado River to Baja to bring back vital wetlands and other coastal habitats that struggle to survive as water supplies dwindle.

The exhibit also spotlights the successful recovery of Baja California’s iconic gray whales – and outlines the heroic efforts needed to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise, which lives only in the northern Gulf of California.

Visitors will learn how the aquarium’s Seafood Watch program and other organizations are partnering with Mexican fishing communities to promote sustainable practices and establish protected marine reserves so wildlife – and livelihoods – will endure for generations to come.

“Baja California is a land of contrasts, uncommon beauty and amazing animals,” said Nava. “¡Viva Baja! reveals the urgent need to protect this distinctive and delicate place.”

¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge is included with aquarium admission. Find more information on the aquarium’s website, www.montereybayaquarium.org.

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The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the ocean.