Monterey Bay Aquarium Debuts Live-Streaming Reef Cam
By Bayley R. Freeman
Exciting news for armchair aquarists (and active reefkeepers, too): The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a new live reef cam, easily accessed from their website and their Facebook page, which showcases some of the splendors of their newest exhibit, ¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge. It’s a fascinating look into one of the most colorful tanks in the Aquarium, and it’s available for viewing (a wonderful stress reliever) 24 hours a day.
¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge, which features habitats as diverse as arid desert, mangrove forest, and tropical reef, opened in February of 2016 and will run through March 2018. It is a stunning display from the start: a visitor enters into a room that conjures up the dry, arid landscape of the desert, where giant tortoises lumber around and scorpions hide in crevices.
A whiptail lizard flashes by. Rounding a cactus-shaped corner, the visitor walks right up to a large, round, open-top tank depicting a mangrove swamp, where Golden Trevallies swim slow circles in and around the mangrove’s roots.
Next is a spectacular, eye-catching tank of garden eels, peeping in unison out of their white sand holes, occasionally ducking down to hide before slowly re-emerging. The grand finale of the exhibit, and the place that is getting the most online attention recently, is the series of jaw-droppingly gorgeous reef tanks, which feature a huge array of Rainbow Wrasses, angelfish, pufferfish, morays, and so much more. Just when you think the visual delights cannot get any more dazzling, you round the final corner and all the color drops away to reveal a perfectly simple display: a fat, round tank where hundreds of brilliant silver Lookdowns (Selene vomer) swim circles all day, their long flat noses bright against the tank’s calming, blue-lit interior.
Live Stream from Reef Cam
The exhibit is stunning, and the newest feature, that live reef cam, is addictive. I wanted to know more about how it came to be, so I spoke with Curtis Roman, the aquarist who set up the in-tank camera. He shared some insights with me. Here are the most salient excerpts from our brief interview:
I asked him for the specifics of the camera and if there were any hiccups during setup. He said, “We are using an Axis Q6045 camera, which is mounted above the tank and about 9 feet in front. There were no problems setting up the cam.” Curtis says that there have been no surprises in the tank since setting up the reef cam, but that public response has been “Very positive. They have been enjoying the live stream.”
More and more people with high-tech reef systems want to be able to monitor them 24/7 from anywhere. Many home reefkeepers now have digital water quality monitors, and reef cam monitors seem sure to be next. I asked Curtis how a home aquarist could begin to replicate the procedure they used at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. What specific camera would he recommend, taking cost into account? He said, “There are some consumer-grade camera solutions that you can use to monitor – Drop Cam and Nest Cam are two possibilities.”
To see the Baja reef cam in all its live glory, follow the link below, and check out the other links for more information on cameras. Aquarists with reef cam experiences are invited to post comments below.
Direct link to the Baja reef cam: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals-and-experiences/live-web-cams/coral-reef-cam
Direct link to gorgeous pictures of some of the species in the ¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge exhibit: https://newsroom.montereybayaquarium.org/multimedia/photos/exhibits-animals/viva-baja