San Francisco Aquarium

    San Francisco Aquarium Image used under license from IstockPhoto

    San Francisco Aquarium Image used under license from IstockPhoto

A visit to a San Francisco aquarium can be a great way to spend a day. San Francisco is the fourth largest city in California and is the center of the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a city known for its architecture, food, beautiful locale and as a champion for social movements.

Visiting An Aquarium in San Francisco

San Francisco is the second most densely populated city in the United States. Its culture is rich, and has a stunning variety of museums and educational exhibits. The location on a bay that is part of the Pacific ocean makes it an appropriate city for sea life discovery. San Francisco has two aquariums, the Aquarium of the Bay and the Steinhart Aquarium, which is part of the California Academy of Sciences.

Aquarium of the Bay

The Aquarium of the Bay focuses on the marine life found in the San Francisco Bay and is located by Pier 39 in The City. The aquarium is broken into three parts:

  • Discover the Bay has several stand-alone tanks which visitors can walk around and observe. This section focuses on various ecosystems within the Bay Area and contains over one thousand animals.
  • Under the Bay is composed of 300 feet of underwater tunnels containing 700,000 gallons of water and over 20,000 animals. The exhibit is modeled to look and feel like the San Francisco Bay. Jellyfish, sharks, an octopus and various species of rays are included in this exhibit.
  • Touch the Bay features animals that can be handled by visitors, allowing people to touch and pet various rays, sharks and skates. Interaction is further encouraged in a Bay lab that examines human impact on animals and also features many land animals including various species of skinks, tarantulas, beetles and snakes. Different animals are brought out by experts at specific times during the day so visitors can have a more interactive and thorough understanding of the creatures. Hands-on experiments are also conducted and solar power is utilized to educate about energy options.

Daily Events

Experts on marine life are positioned throughout the aquarium to answer visitor's questions regarding exhibits and animals. The Aquarium of the Bay is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Daily events include ray and shark feedings and seminars on sustainable fishing techniques to prevent the depletion of fish in the earth's oceans.

Steinhart Aquarium

The California Academy of Sciences is one of the world's largest natural history museums and is located in Golden Gate Park. It is another San Francisco aquarium. The Steinhart Aquarium is within this extraordinary body of exhibits and research. The aquarium takes up most of the building's basement. More than 38,000 sea creatures are housed here, and over 900 separate species are represented in the aquarium. The exhibits explore different world regions and explore various types of marine life in doing so.


Exhibits are impressive:

  • The Philippine coral reef exhibit holds an impressive 212,000 gallons of water and is one of the world's deepest coral exhibit.
  • One exhibit mimics California's coast exactly.
  • One exhibit replicates the Amazon as a series of rain forest exhibits.
  • African penguins are featured and albino alligators and snapping turtles can be found in an exhibit that recreates a swamp environment.

The aquarium has several daily programs including scheduled penguin and shark feedings and coral reef dives. Suitable for a day of exploration, the Academy of Sciences contains a café and an upscale restaurant called The Moss which has a stellar wine selection.

Called the "greenest" museum in the world, this museum takes extra steps to ensure that their impact on their surrounding environment is minimal.

Visiting the Aquariums

Both the Aquarium of the Bay and the Steinhart Aquarium in the California Academy of Sciences feature a comprehensive look at marine life in the San Fransisco Bay area and the world at large. Aquariums are great ways of bringing people closer to parts of the world to which they don't have access, and in doing so human impact on the environments being explored becomes more relatable.