Aquarium of the Bay is San Francisco Bay’s Aquarium. Approximately 20,000 animals live in the Aquarium ranging from eight-foot native sevengill sharks, to rays, jellies, and even river otters, all of which can be found in the San Francisco Bay or along the California coastline. With a focus on education, conservation, and entertainment, it is the only aquarium dedicated to the diverse marine life and distinctive ecosystems of the Bay and its watershed. Aquarium of the Bay provides an unmatched window to the Bay’s amazing marine life to 600,000 visitors annually.
Aquarium of the Bay’s exhibition space is organized as a series of experiences that invite visitors to both observe and touch the animals on display. There are four main exhibit areas for guests to explore.
Discover the Bay
Discover the Bay highlights some of the animals that are commonly found closest to shore, right off of San Francisco’s docks. Here, the fish tend to be smaller and juvenile. Among the animals found in Discover the Bay are green moray eels, wolf eels, juvenile swell sharks, and the California state fish, the orange garibaldi. Visitors may find themselves entranced as they walk around a swirling school of northern anchovies. Guests can also view the trash tank, which portrays how junk left on the beach and thrown into the ocean affects our local animals and their habitats. Many of the items in the trash tank were actually pulled out of San Francisco Bay.
Under the Bay
Under the Bay is the Aquarium’s main and most iconic exhibit area. When visitors first enter Under the Bay, they step into a tranquil environment where they discover a mesmerizing jelly exhibit, featuring moon jellies, Pacific sea nettles, and more.
Next, visitors will encounter two massive tunnels, totaling 300-feet and holding 700,000 gallons of Bay water between them. These tunnels are home to over 200 species of animals that are found in the San Francisco Bay and along the California coastline. The first tunnel, called the “Nearshore” tunnel, represents the shallower areas of the Bay and includes animals such as the giant sea bass, giant Pacific octopuses, and more.
The second tunnel, called the “Offshore” tunnel, represents animals from the deeper waters of San Francisco Bay. Visitors will find multiple species of sharks including the sevengill shark and leopard shark, as well as grand bat rays, and more.
Touch the Bay
As its name suggests, Touch the Bay offers a hands-on experience for Aquarium visitors. Guests can touch juvenile bat rays, and even sharks in the exhibits first touchpool. In a second touchpool that resembles California’s rocky coastline, guests can touch sea stars, sea anemones, and sea cucumbers.
Also found in Touch the Bay is the PG&E Bay Lab, which features land-dwelling animals that are ambassadors for climates around the world. The PG&E Bay Lab helps to demonstrate the effects of climate change on these animals and their natural habitat. During regularly scheduled presentations, visitors can get up close to some of the animals in the Bay Lab, as well as participate in hands-on science experiments led by Aquarium naturalists.
River Otters: Watershed Ambassadors
Finally, guests will come upon the Aquarium’s newest exhibit, River Otters: Watershed Ambassadors. This exhibit features playful river otters in a serene environment that is a combination of land and water habitat. The exhibit includes two freshwater pools, a river stream, plus plenty of dry land and dig pits for the otters to enjoy. The river otters act as an ambassador species to educate guests about the importance of the healthy watersheds that flow into the Bay.