Tales from the A-scareium!
By Karen Jeffries
Over the years, some unusual paranormal activity has been reported by shocked staff and scared visitors. We thought we’d share some of the tales as Halloween approaches….
The Woman in Black
Our Security officers work around the clock, including during the aptly named graveyard shift. Several have reported odd sights, eerie sounds and hair-raising feelings during their late-night rounds.
Some reported the appearance – and sudden disappearance – of a woman in a black gown who haunts the Open Sea wing. Via monitors inside the Security office, one saw her standing under the anchovy roundabout; the other watched her glide by the huge Open Sea exhibit. When they went to investigate, she was nowhere to be found!
One officer’s encounter was too close. Walking through the Ocean Travelers gallery, he passed a woman in a black gown sitting on a bench only a few feet away. She nodded, and he said “hello” and kept walking. He stopped abruptly a few steps later, thinking “Wait a minute!” but when he turned around, the woman had vanished.
Footprints from Nowhere
Another officer had the same experience on foggy nights. Large, wet footprints would appear out of nowhere on the sidewalk outside the Main Entrance. The footprints would always travel from the sidewalk underneath the locked main gate before disappearing.
Another officer heard the laughter of children, as if they were running and playing somewhere – but in this case it was the middle of the night and in the basement. “There are definitely wandering souls around here in the midnight hour,” he said.
The Man in the Yellow Plaid Shirt
Sales & Reservations Coordinator Janelle Brown was working at one of our entrances when she started noticing something out of the corner of her eye. Thinking it was a guest, she’d turn around but no one was there. This would happen repeatedly.
Janelle tried to ignore the urge to turn around, but out of the corner of her eye she saw a man’s hand resting on the desk. The hand would move closer until one time she saw not only the hand, but also an arm up to the elbow, inside a yellow plaid shirt. The vision disappeared instantly when she turned around.
One day she’d had enough and – out loud – asked her ghostly guest to stop pestering her. The number of encounters dropped after that, but Janelle said she’d always catch one glimpse of “the man in the yellow plaid shirt” every time she worked at that desk.
Visitors from Other Lands
Local author and historian Randall A. Reinstedt has written several books about ghostly goings-on around California, and especially the Central Coast. Both Ghost Notes and California Ghost Notes (available in the Aquarium’s Gift & Bookstore) feature episodes about haunted Monterey – including several reports from Aquarium staff seeing apparitions of Hovden Cannery workers.
One chilling story involves a woman who visited with her husband and daughter in 1996, the debut year of the Outer Bay (now Open Sea) galleries. As the family marveled at the shimmering school of anchovies at the gallery entrance, the woman felt a hand on her shoulder, heard someone whisper in her ear and felt breath on her hair. The voice was soft and foreign. Thinking it was another visitor, the woman turned around but saw no one except for her family, still watching the anchovy exhibit.
She realized they didn’t have the same experience, which unsettled her enough that she quickly went to the bookstore to feel safe around people – living ones, that is….
Do you have your own A-scareium story? We’d love to hear it!