After I got back from Alcatraz yesterday evening, I went to the Aquarium of the Bay, which is a short walk away from the Alcatraz Cruises dock and stays open relatively late during the summertime. I love aquariums (and regret that my schedule won't accommodate a visit to the superb Monterrey Bay Aquarium), and I had another incentive to go: I purchased a San Francisco CityPass, which bundles together a seven-day public transit permit and admission to the Museum of Modern Art, the deYoung Museum, the Legion of Honor, the Aquarium of the Bay, and other attractions for a flat fee. Definitely a good option for the museum devotee.
The Aquarium of the Bay is located at tourist-trappy Pier 39. Its a small facility devoted to the study and conservation of the San Francisco Bay.
Visitors first view a number of small tanks highlighting the ecosystems that exist within the Bay.They then move through two clear tunnel tanks, one of which houses creatures that live in the shallows of the Bay . . .
. . . such as these anchovies, schools of which pass with stunning speed and change direction in the blink of an eye . . .
. . . and star- and rockfish.
After passing through the first tank, visitors see a few small tanks housing other Bay inhabitants, such as these moon jellies. Then they proceed to the other tank, which contains the animals that live in the deeper waters . . .
. . . such as sharks . . .
A few small touch tanks allow visitors to touch starfish, leopard sharks, and rays.
The Aquarium of the Bay is a lovely facility, and the staff are knowledgeable and helpful. However, given that it takes about 45-60 minutes to go through the exhibits at a leisurely pace, the admission fee ($14.95 for adults, $8.00 for seniors and children aged 3-11, $37.95 for a family ticket) seems a bit steep. Given that it's a non-profit with a worthy mission, perhaps the fee is understandable. However, part of me suspects that the fee is high because Pier 39 is touristy and pricey (and a lot of the tourists at Pier 39 these days are getting such good exchange rates for their Euros that the price is still reasonable). For CityPass holders, however, the Aquarium of the Bay is a pleasing and informative break from the hubub and relentless commerce of Pier 39.