Monterey is famous for so many things. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row and the sardine fishery, John Steinbeck, the Monterey Jazz Festival. And now the resurgence of Monterey Bay itself bringing back whales, dolphins, seal lions, seals, otters, and all sorts of birds and fish.
Like many famous places many attractions sprout up which are only peripherally related to the sources of fame. The old Fisherman’s Wharf is now the center of attention. I began looking for canned sardines.
Of all things, Monterey Bay is now well known for restoration and conservation, exemplified by the Aquarium, but also by the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, and of course “Western Biological” from the novel “Cannery Row.” So I was saddened to find sea stars and shells for sale as souvenirs in the shops on Fisherman’s Wharf. I had seen similar ‘sea life’ for sale in arts and crafts stores in Portland. These are not picked up off the beach, already expired, but are taken alive from reefs in the south Pacific and ‘processed’ for the markets.
It’s easy to remember happy trips to the shore, beach combing for shells, sand dollars, and whatever treasures may have washed up. Unfortunately, commercially available sea stars and shells are not picked up that way, but harvested for a mass market.
There are great scenes and some interesting perspectives outside Fisherman’s Wharf. Use of the harbor today is blending with the old wharf.
We walked Cannery Row several times. Monterey Bay Aquarium is on the western end, and the Point Pinos walk also took us through Cannery Row. The structures crossing over the street are original, built by the canneries to move sardines, often on conveyor belts, from the waterfront to the processing plants and warehouses. Interestingly, we found more sardine cans in Museum of Monterey than anywhere on Cannery Row.
There are interesting contrasts, remnants of the heydays of the fishery.
Arts & Crafts and Farmers’ Markets
We found lively farmers’ markets combined with ‘arts and crafts’ fairs on the plaza and main street. A whole block of the farmers’ market is devoted to local organic foods, mostly produce. The weekly market, Tuesday afternoons, clearly attracts both local residents and tourists.