I started out my second day in San Francisco taking the “historic” F line around Fisherman’s Wharf to the apparently famous Pier 39. Here I made my way to the Aquarium of the Bay, which is a non-profit aquarium set up to educate people about the marine life of San Francisco Bay and the effects of pollution. The main reason I wanted to make this stop is the fact they have these tunnels that you can walk through and see fish and sharks swimming around. It’s supposed to simulate what it’s like to walk through the Bay…you know, if that was possible. It was actually quite an interesting experience, as I got to see a wide array of marine life. As I was walking through the shark tunnel, which looked like I was walking into the Shark Tank, I was talking with my guide about the set up of the tanks. Somewhat hopefully, I asked “Do the sharks ever eat the other fish?” Which really wasn’t a dumb question, given the fact that they have all these little fish just swimming next to the sharks. “Oh no,” she said, “we feed all the animals twice a day so they don’t ever have to find their own food. Yeah, it would be kind of awkward if we had them hunt each other…the tank would get rather bloody.” A huge shark then swam above us and as I ducked my head away (obviously forgetting I was in a safe, protective environment), the guide continued “That’s our biggest shark…her name is Debbie.” And as she said that, another shark swam past Debbie, opened his mouth, and swallowed another fish whole! “Huh,” the guide said, “That usually doesn’t happen.”
The Aquarium of the Bay is worth a visit despite the cool tunnels you can walk through. Most of their animals in their tanks are what fisherman catch by accident. For example, they have this giant octopus (which was absolutely disgusting, and the guide wanted me to stick my head up the tank to “get a better look at it,” which I flat out refused to do…anyway….) which was caught by crab hunters (I don’t know what you call them…like, they wouldn’t be crab fishermen because fishermen catch fish, right?). Apparently octopuses like to snack on crabs, so they can fit into the cages people use to catch crabs. Anytime fishermen catch animals such as these, they have the option of giving them to the aquarium, which will rehabilitate them and release them back to the wild. The babies of the animals of the aquarium are kept in the “nursery,” which they let you walk through and pet. There were little baby sting rays, a baby shark, and different kinds of star fish. There were these two guys that were part of my tour group and when we got to the petting pool, one was like “can I stick my phone underwater and take a picture of the fish?” The attendant blinked at him and was like “um, if your phone can do that, sure.” So he stuck his phone into the water and took a picture of the baby sting ray, which immediately jumped up and swam away as fast as possible once the picture was taken.
Check out pictures from Pier 39 and the Aquarium of the Bay in the gallery below!
If you do decide to go to the Aquarium of the Bay, make sure you stop by the San Francisco Visitor’s Station on Market Street…they’ll give you a free map that has a coupon to the aquarium that saves you like two bucks. Okay, not a lot of money, but San Francisco is so freakin’ expensive that you can put those two dollars towards a Ghirardelli chocolate milkshake, which I’m telling you is happiness in a cup.