- Adult Ages 12+
- Child Ages 3–11
Learn about the aquatic creatures of the Bay Area
Your Aquarium of the Bay exploration begins in Discover the Bay, featuring the distinctive ecosystems that support an incredibly wide variety of marine life.
Exhibit Highlights Include
- Beauties of the Bay: visit San Francisco Bay’s most colorful animals, including the bright orange Garibaldi (the California State Marine Fish), green Moray eels, and rockfish of varying colors, in the first habitat on the right.
- Swirling school of anchovies – did you know that lateral lines on anchovies’ bodies serve as sensory organs? This enables the animals to sense where the school is moving, to help stick together and avoid predators.
- Bay Babies: from newly hatched skates to juvenile perch and other fishes, explore underwater newborns. San Francisco Bay is a nursery ground for many species of fish.
Jellies await your arrival upon entering the aquarium’s main “Under the Bay” area. Ambient lighting sets the mood to enjoy these beautifully mesmerizing invertebrates. Front and center is a 725-gallon cylinder tank displaying moon jellies, while a wall-mounted, 740-gallon gallon Kriesel tank showcases the Pacific sea nettles.
In the aquarium’s first of two crystal clear tunnel tanks, you will encounter a dynamic near-shore habitat. Did you know that the majority of San Francisco Bay is between 10-15 feet deep?
What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in breadth and diversity of species. Many animals, including various shark species, use the shallow mudflats of San Francisco Bay as a breeding and nursery ground for their pups.
Animals that you will encounter in the Near Shore exhibit tunnel range from swirling schools of anchovies to a rainbow of rockfish; bright-orange Garibaldi to the smartest animal in the bay, Giant Pacific Octopuses.
Lastly, the magic of San Francisco Bay is literally at your fingertips in Touch the Bay, featuring a touch pool with sharks, rays, and skates.
Sharks, Bat Rays and Skates Touch Pool
Get ready for an unforgettable experience to call, text or tweet home about, in our first of two touch pools. Juvenile bat rays, leopard sharks, big skates, swell sharks and others await. Our curious bat rays are most active in the morning hours, prior to their 12:30 p.m. lunchtime. These curious elasmobranchs, or cousins to sharks and skates, are known to pop their heads out of the water to take a closer look at their visitors. Touch Bat Rays on the tips of their wings and find out whether they’re scaly or smooth.
San Francisco Bay Estuaries Exhibit
As you exit the elevator, explore an interactive exhibit focusing on marshes and mudflats of the San Francisco Bay. Nearly 90% of San Francisco Bay’s 190,000 acres of tidal marsh have been destroyed or altered. Wetlands provide a habitat for animals; filter mud from the bay’s murky waters and protect the shoreline from flooding. The exhibit features two local National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERR) sites: China Camp State Park in Marin County and Rush Ranch in Solano County. Touch an oyster fossil, leopard shark jaw, and other artifacts, to engage with these incredibly important and diverse habitats.
While wandering through the Touch the Bay exhibit, you will notice some terrestrial or land-dwelling critters. Land dwellers, at an aquarium? These animals, many found in the greater Bay Area and some from countries far away, were specially selected to share messages of how their habits and habitats are affected by climate change. Check out the various exhibits, featuring animals ranging from California Kingsnakes to African Pygmy Hedgehogs; Blue Tongued Skinks, and more.
Aquarium of the Bay is located at Pier 39 in Fisherman’s Wharf.