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Monterey Bay Aquarium was voted the best aquarium in the world by the travel website TripAdvisor. (David Royal - Monterey Herald)

MONTEREY >> The otters are swimming a little more gleefully today.

Monterey Bay Aquarium has been voted the best aquarium in the world by TripAdvisor users.

The travel website said its awards were based on millions of reviews and opinions from travelers. An algorithm was used to account for the quantity and quality of reviews over 12 months.

"There's a lot of smiling faces around," Aquarium spokesman Ken Peterson said of the staff.

He said the Aquarium is particularly pleased with the award — which was announced to the staff by email — because of how votes were gathered.

"You can't buy a positive TripAdvisor or Yelp review," he said.

TripAdvisor is the most used travel website in the world, according to audience tracker ComScore.

Oceanario de Lisboa in Portugal was No.2, Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ga. was No.3.

The rest of the winners came from Greece, Canada, United States, Spain and South Africa.

The same study also tracked the top zoos in the world. Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb., and San Diego Zoo were the top two in the world, according to TripAdvisor.

The nonprofit Monterey Aquarium made $36 million in admission fees in 2012, according to its most recently-available tax returns.

Millions of dollars were given to universities across the world and dozens of research programs for marine life such as great white sharks, tuna, seahorses and ocean sunfish.


Phillip Molnar can be reached at 646-4487.