Plan Your Visit to the Aquarium of the Bay
Aquarium of the Bay is the perfect place to discover the beauty and diversity of Northern California's aquatic life. Home to more than 20,000 marine animals, including sharks and rays, octopus, jellies, and much more, the Aquarium also features 300 feet of walk-through tunnel exhibits and transparent touchpools. And don't forget the playful river otters; the Aquarium's exhibit showcases conservation efforts to restore their population within the Bay Area.
Here is a preview of what to expect as you plan a visit to the Aquarium:
The first gallery to experience, Discover the Bay, introduces the San Francisco Bay's ecosystem and features seven different animal habitats providing homes for the species of the Bay. Visitors can see California's state marine fish, the bright orange Garibaldi, as well as moray eels and rockfish. Underwater newborns, including newly hatched skates, juvenile perch and others, as well as a swirling school of anchovies, serve to introduce guests to the Bay.
A 725-gallon cylinder tank featuring moon jellies and a wall-mounted 740-gallon tank for Pacific sea nettles highlight the jellyfish exhibit and the entrance to Under the Bay. Learn how these hypnotic creatures survive in Bay and ocean currents, and are impacted by climate change. Further on, Under the Bay presents a fully immersive experience within 300 feet of acrylic tunnels. In the Near Shore Tunnel, anchovies, rockfish, Garibaldi, and the giant Pacific octopus populate this reproduction of the shallow depths of the San Francisco Bay. Up next, sharks, rays, sturgeons, and more swirl above and around visitors in the Far Shore or "Sharks of Alcatraz" Tunnel. Shark species on view include the sevengill, the largest predatory animal in the Bay, leopard and soupfin.
Two touchpools put the San Francisco Bay at your fingertips, with sharks, rays, skates, sea stars and anemones ready for hands-on experiences, with Aquarium naturalists providing education on these animals and their habitat. In the Bay Lab exhibits, several land-dwelling animals such as chinchillas, tortoises, and frogs are presented for perspective on habitat change due to shifting climates. In the Bay Lab Station, naturalists lead discussions and interactions, such as Science Bites programming, on a special and daily schedule, with more touchable experiences for visitors of all ages.
A visit to the Aquarium is not complete without a stop at the River Otter Gallery. Otters Shasta, Ryer, Baxter, and Tahoe exemplify the playful nature of these animals, and are considered prime ambassadors for the Bay Area watershed's health and productivity. Learn about the stresses of the local otter population, from the past fur trade to water pollution, and how current regulations to improve water quality have helped otters recover.
New Exhibits, Special Opportunities, and More
The Aquarium consistently introduces new exhibits and programs to enhance guest experiences and education on conservation efforts. From new residents such as Pacific spiny lumpsuckers to augmented presentations, repeat visitors can always find something new. Keep an eye on what's new at the Aquarium online.
Guests can take their visit to the next level with a Behind-the-Scenes tour, on which guests get a guided tour through the galleries and tunnels, as well as an opportunity to walk the catwalks above the tanks, and learn about dive operations and how the Aquarium cares for its resident animals. Tours are 45 minutes, and offered at 1 p.m. daily, with an additional 4 p.m. tour on weekends. Upgrade your visit even further to feed the sharks! You can purchase a tour ticket here.
The Aquarium of the Bay is conveniently located on PIER 39, along the San Francisco Bay waterfront, where the Embarcadero meets Beach Street, and adjacent to Fisherman's Wharf. The PIER is easily accessible via San Francisco Muni's historic F-Line street car or the 8X, 8BX, 39, or 47 bus lines. San Francisco's famous cable car lines also drop off a few blocks from The PIER.