Today's Groupon is drenched in San Francisco Bay's sharks, wrapped in its octopuses, and served in a tunnel tank with a moving walkway. Visit Aquarium of the Bay at Fisherman’s Wharf for $8, more than half off the usual $15.95 admission. Aquarium of the Bay is the only aquarium devoted to showcasing the marine life of the San Francisco Bay. With two 150-foot long tunnel tanks and more than 20,000 aquatic critters, it's an absolutely wondrous wrigglebin.
The aquarium is smaller than Monterey Bay Aquarium, but it packs a punch with a dashingly displayed giant Pacific octopus and huge moon jellyfishes. The main tanks, which together hold 700,000 gallons of bay water, host a variety of sea creatures including sevengill sharks, giant sea bass, leopard sharks and bat rays; land animals include blue-tongued skinks, pink-toed tarantulas, African pygmy hedgehogs, and Pacific tree frogs. One of the most popular exhibits (besides the tunnel tanks that allow visitors to walk among the fish) is a transparent plastic window that allows people to see skate embryos in various stages of development.
Exhibits are divided into three sections: Discover the Bay (aquatic animals), Under the Bay (sea creatures), and Touch the Bay (aquatic and land-dwelling animals you can definitely touch, and possibly high five). Aquarium of the Bay's friendly staff are always on-hand to answer questions and share interesting facts about jelly fish, rock fish, flat fish, and fish fish. October is Sharktober at Aquarium of the Bay, which means there's daily shark-touching and shark talks, plus shark hats and special feeding presentations on Thursdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. The aquarium is a nonprofit dedicated to conserving the SF Bay, and it's a city-certified green business. Check out the PG&E Bay Lab to see an interactive climate-change exhibit.
Fall operating hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. Winter operating hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.
- The sea life is amazing, well shown and the staff are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. It's fantastic walking through the underwater tunnel seeing sharks and rays swimming around you... – Suzanne_Gilbert012, Citysearch
- This is a great place to bring the little ones while walking pier 39. Yea its [sic] small, but there are LOTS of fishes and the 300 foot underwater tunnel is way cool. – John H., Yelp
- Very cool tunnel tanks filled with all kinds of fish from San Francisco Bay... Pretty jelly fish, too. Lots of helpful staff to answer your questions. – Mickey, Yahoo! Travel
Why Sea Life is Named Bad
Many of the sea creatures at the Aquarium of the Bay are misleadingly named; the bat ray is not really a bat, and the leopard shark is not really a leopard. But there’s a reason for this confusion: For a brief period in the 1980s, the North American Sea Life Naming Board was run by Dr. Nigel Fennel, a crotchety misanthrope whose only pleasure was upsetting children.
Fennel used his tenure as Chief Sea Life–Namer of America to disappoint school children who longed to examine misleadingly named creatures such as the Laser-Eyed Super Fish and the Gigantic Sasquatchy Talking Sea Friend. The scientific community didn’t intervene, knowing full well that the inevitable would happen: Fennel’s adorable niece would be orphaned, begin living with Fennel, and eventually warm his cold heart. Following his niece’s advice, Fennel retired from the Naming Board to follow his true passion: building motorcycles.
Aquarium of the Bay
The 50,000-square-foot Aquarium of the Bay houses three main exhibit areas devoted entirely to marine life native to the San Francisco Bay. These include Discover the Bay, where visitors are introduced to eight animal habitats and over a thousand species local to the Bay Area; Under the Bay, featuring Moon Jellies, giant Pacific octopuses, spiny dogfish, and swirling schools of anchovies; and Touch the Bay, whose touchpools offer a tactile interaction with sharks, rays, skates, and sea stars.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, the aquarium features a packed schedule of free-with-admission daily programs, which include lectures, feedings, and up-close animal encounters. Chat with a climate change naturalist at noon, watch a bat ray feeding at 12:30, learn how to help keep otters' habitats safe and clean at 2:15, then go on a behind-the-scenes tour of the tanks at 4. Your day will be action-packed, customizable however you'd like.
88% of 1,089 customers recommend
“Take your time,there's so much to see,it's amazing!”
“Only took about an hour to get through the whole aquarium but my kids enjoyed themselves.”
“Spending time with family was great!!”