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Aquarium of the Bay
An Underwater Wonderland: the Aquarium of the Bay San Francisco
This gallery introduces visitors to the San Francisco Bay ecosystem, highlighting the animals found closest to the shore. It features animals like the orange garibaldi, California's state marine fish. It also showcases the green moray and wolf eels, northern anchovies, colorful rockfish, and swell sharks. It features the habitats of seven different animals, showing how their homes are formed. It also displays a trash tank to educate the visitor on how they and their habitats are affected by trash.
Ambient lighting effectively sets the mood when you enter the Under the Bay Exhibit. It sets off the beauty of the jelly exhibit which features moon jellies and Pacific nettles among other animals. This exhibit features two tunnels that provide visitors with a deeply-absorbing experience as you walk through them. You can also avail of Sleepover Programs where your group will sleep in the Under the Bay tunnel underneath thousands of these animals.
The so-called Nearshore area has giant octopuses and sea bass usually found in the shallower areas. Many animals live in these shallow depths that serve as their breeding and nursery grounds.
Also known as The Alcatraz section, this part represents the bay's deeper waters. Here you will see grand bat rays, sturgeons, and different shark species like the soupfin and leopard sharks. You will also see the largest predatory animal in San Francisco Bay, the sevengill shark.
This exhibit provides a hands-on experience for visitors. There are two touch pools to be found here. The first contains sharks and juvenile bat rays while the second pool lets guests touch anemones, sea cucumbers, and starfishes. It also includes a Bay Lab and a Bay Lab Station that feature terrestrial animals like chinchillas, frogs, and tortoises. Visitors can also learn about climate change and its effects on these animals and their natural habitation. Naturalists regularly give lectures/talks on specific topics to educate the visitor on the lives, habits, and practices of certain bay animals.
The last feature is the River Otters exhibit. It showcases river otters in both land and water settings. This exhibit educates guests on the importance of the Bay's watershed. It is known that otters represent a healthy water system so if you see them in the wild, it tells you that the water body/water system is healthy. This exhibit introduces four river otters to the visitor: Shasta, Baxter, Tahoe, and Ryer. The visitor gets to experience touching these otters and observing them as they go about their day.
The Aquarium offers daily programs for the best visitor experience. On specific days and time of the week, schedules are available for animal feeding, encounters with specific animals, talks by naturalists, and squid dissections. Visitors can likewise get a peek at what goes on behind the scenes. You get to traverse the catwalks over our tanks, learn about the dive operations, and animal care procedures. It is also possible to be an Aquarium insider and explore behind-the-scenes. Feed the sharks, skates and other fishes with a bucket-full of seafood!
How to Get Tickets?
Tickets are sold at the door and online. A general admission ticket provides access to the main exhibit areas of the Aquarium. It excludes food and drinks, transportation to and from the hotel, and souvenir photos. The latter is available to purchase, however, if you wish to avail of them. There are also tickets for the Behind-the-Scenes and the Feed-the-Sharks Tours. Local discounts are available for members and residents of the nine San Francisco Bay Area counties.
How To Get Around?
The visitors walk along the tunnels. Wheelchairs and strollers are also available as needed. Just get in touch with the staff so that they can provide such provisions for you.
What Should I Wear?
Visitors are advised to use casual attire for their trip to the Aquarium of the Bay.
Best Time to Visit
The Aquarium is open most days of the year. The best time to visit is first thing in the morning on weekdays as this guarantees fewer visitors. It is important to note that the Aquarium of the Bay is often crowded during the weekends.
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Will I Need a Guide?
Visitors generally do not need a guide to enjoy the wonders of the Aquarium. A short video is shown at the start of the tour as an introduction. Naturalists also have scheduled talks on interesting topics for the visitors' added information. These interpretive specialists are always nearby and are prepared to answer any question you may have. They also guide you through your animal encounter if necessary.
How To Get There?
Aquarium of the Bay is located at The Embarcadero & Beach Street, Pier 39. It is accessible by both public and private transport. For the best directions, please visit www.511.org. The historic F Line stops right across the Aquarium.
The Aquarium of the Bay is a Smithsonian Affiliate. It is also an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facility and is certified as a Green Business by the city of San Francisco. It is a member of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP), collaborating with various organizations to promote freshwater care, ocean conservation, and reduction of plastic pollution.