San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay Area Aquariums
There are 3 main Aquariums in the San Francisco Bay and surrounding areas:

Scroll down the page to read more about the 3 aquariums listed above. Phone numbers, address and contact information are at the bottom of this page or click on the links above to find out more about these aquariums directly.

Aquarium by the Bay, Pier 39 San Francisco, California, USA. SF Bay Digital Images Videos

Aquarium by the Bay overview:

"Opened in 1996 and enhanced in 2001, Aquarium of the Bay is a unique educational and entertainment facility dedicated to the rich and diverse aquatic life of San Francisco Bay and its surrounding waters. The Aquarium provides a window to the Bay that focuses on its distinctive ecosystems to SEARCH tain, educate and inspire preservation of this wonderful natural resource."
from the "about us" page at

The Aquarium by the Bay recently underwent a multi million dollar renovation with much of the money going to stock the aquariums themselves. When I owned SF Bay Whalewatching, I was invited to take a private tour of the facilities, I was so impressed with the "Aquarium Adventure", which is an aquarium tunnel you walk through or underneath, I went back and spent two hours there. This is how the Aquarium by the Bay describes their walk through aquarium:

"The Aquarium adventure continues with a descent into the hidden world of life under San Francisco Bay. A moving walkway will take you through two crystal clear tunnels, 300 feet in length. You'll be surrounded by 700,000 gallons of filtered Bay water and more than 23,000 aquatic animals.

In the first tunnel you'll see a colorful and dynamic near-shore habitat. In the second tunnel you'll meet the mysterious and compelling marine life that lives in the deep water outside the Bay. From captivating bat rays to rare angel sharks to the graceful giant pacific octopus, it is truly an extraordinary look at life under the Bay.
from the "about us" page at

This aquarium has really transformed from a basic tourist attraction to a generous enriching exploration of San Francisco Bay. There are educational displays with many samples of the fish and marine wildlife of the San Francisco Bay. There are naturalists on hand to answer questions and explain more.

They have touching tanks which are a rare opportunity to touch bat rays with the guidance of a naturalist. In the Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary, marine wildlife is strictly protected with guidelines of interaction which we at SF Bay Whale Watching strongly uphold. Generally speaking, touching marine wildlife or disturbing it in it's natural habitat is not a good idea. In many cases it is against the law. It is good practise to keep your distance from marine mammals when you encounter them, observing them but not disturbing them. The touching tanks are supervised and offer a rare interaction, I could of sworn the bat ray I touched in the touching tank liked interacting with me too.

I was surprised at the diversity of fish native to this area I was unaware of. I have a thing for rays and since they are bottom dwellers and I don't often make it to the bottom of the Bay, this was a great opportunity to observe Rays, Wolf-Eels, Rockfish, Sharks and Tuna! (Amoung many other types of fish.) I actually have sat on local cliffs watching for a glimpse of the Monkey Faced Eel and was really excited to see them up close.

For the first time ever a white shark has lived in captivity at the Monterey Bay Aquarium giving us the rare opportunity to view, watch, record, learn and love. Sometimes white sharks, or as they used to be refered to the "great white sharks", carry around quite a stigma. Well there was Jaws, and then JawII and then all the fear of the unknown and white sharks have literally been unknown to us humans until just in the recent decade. Much important research has been conducted specifically at the Farallon Islands on white sharks. We learned for example that they migrate. We used to think that the red triangle, or the body of water between Point Reyes, The Farallon Islands and Ana Nuevo, was the home of the white shark. We now know they MIGRATE here to the gulf of the Farallones by the observations of scientists on the Farallon Islands and using satellite tracking systems.

Back to the Aquarium. I visited the Montery Bay Aquarium October 20th, 2004 to catch a glimpse of white shark called "Charolette gray" by some. She has since been released into the gulf of the farllones waters since then, on March 31, 2005.

White Shark on Exhibit (2004-2005) Put on exhibit Sept. 14, 2004 62 pounds 5 feet
Released to the wild March 31, 2005 162 pounds 6 feet 4½ inches

I had the good fortune to go on a weekday and be able to watch her for a few hours. I closed the place down and the really nice janitor had to ask me to leave finally. She circled the tank. It was hard to photograph her through the thick glass, and it only worked out when she swam through the light, but there are a few pictures for you here.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is an aquarium in it's own class with scientific studies of many kinds going on in the area and vast research resources. Please visit the web site to learn more on white sharks their other projects like Seawatch and much more.

The aquarium has many other incredible exhibits as well such as the penquins, sea otters, giant kelp forrest aquarium, jellies as art, monterey canyon, and past special exhibits like seahorses with sharks being the current featured exhibit.

To whet your whistle here is the link to the pequin webcam. They have a few webcams on their website, the kelp cam, the shark cam, the penguin cam, the otter cam, the outer bay cam and the monterey cam. Monterey Bay Aquarium Webcams But, I can not say enough about an actual visit to an aquarium in person.

I was very partial to the jellyfish as art exhibit while I was there, finding jellyfish to be quite art like. Moving flowing art. On my trips to the Farallon Islands in the fall I have sometimes see great schools of Lions Mane Jellyfish migrating from Peru. It was magnificent and looks like a ballet. I have also see the moon jellyfish, sail-by-the_wind or Velella Velella , and a few other kinds. The naturalists on the trips point them out and help identify them.

Lions Mane Jellyfish don't photograph as well from the boat as they do in aquariums. I kind of went crazy photographing jellyfish at the two aquariums and puplished a popular jellyfish series. Apparently there are a lot of jellyfish fans out there as well.

Aquariums, Marine Nature + Wildlife, Research Centers, Resources + Environmental Relevant Links:



  • Point Reyes Bird Observatory
    PRBO Conservation Science is dedicated to conserving birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems through innovative scientific research and outreach.
  • Oikonos
    Oikonos increases ecosystem knowledge through science, art, technology, education, and applied conservation.
  • The Marine Mammal Center
    The Marine Mammal Center recognizes human interdependence with marine mammals and their importance as sentinels of the ocean environment, the health of which is essential for all life. It is our responsibility to use our awareness, compassion and intelligence to foster marine mammal survival and the conservation of their habitat. The Marine Mammal Center works toward this end.
  • Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
  • The Center for Whale Research Center for Whale Research, PO Box 1577, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
  • AMERICAN CETACEAN SOCIETY San Francisco Bay Chapter, P.O. Box 784,Pacifica, CA 94044
    contact Doreen Moser at (415) 491-1400

For More Bay Area Nature:
Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito California
Visit The Marine Mammal Center, Sausalito
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Put a whale tail on your car or truck and support the preservation of California resources -

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