NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program and Aquarium of the Bay are unveiling a new interactive exhibit on San Francisco’s Pier 39 that will let members of the public “dive” into the wonders of the marine environment without getting their feet wet.
The family-friendly exhibit, entitled “Dive Into Your National Marine Sanctuaries,” will open Sunday, April 22 at Aquarium of the Bay’s first annual EarthFest celebration, and will offer visitors a chance to explore the bay and ocean environment through a variety of engaging activities. Using underwater video footage, 3-D models and colorful displays, the walk-through exhibit brings visitors face to face with some of the area’s intriguing marine wildlife and explains the connection between California’s upstream watershed, the bay, and the ocean waters of NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones, Monterey Bay, and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries.
Developed by Farallones sanctuary education coordinator Carol Preston along with Carrie Chen, the aquarium’s director of education and conservation, the “Dive” exhibit is designed to have relevance not only to visitors from the Bay Area, but also from around the world.
“We have crafted the ‘downstream’ watershed message to teach people how marine stewardship can become part of one’s daily life, no matter where you live,” Preston said.
The exhibit includes several components for aquarium guests. At the Being a Scientist Is Fun! activity, children can simulate the capture of wildlife to bring aboard a NOAA research vessel by retrieving tokens that reveal information about the selected species, including natural history, habitat, conservation status and other interesting facts. Other sections of the exhibit include Why Are Sanctuaries Important? and Can I Explore It?, which outlines activities such as surfing, learning about shipwrecks, tidepooling, or just walking on the beach. The segment, How Can I Help, offers practical suggestions on how to become an ocean steward.
San Francisco Bay, North America’s largest West Coast estuary, is an aquatic home for some species that live their entire lives here. For others, it’s a nursery for young sea creatures before they take to life in the open ocean. Aquarium of the Bay, located at Pier 39 at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, is a window on the distinctive ecosystems and rich aquatic life of San Francisco Bay and surrounding waters. The aquarium seeks to entertain, educate and inspire preservation of this wonderful natural resource.
The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, designated in 1981 because of its rich biological diversity, lies beyond the Golden Gate. The sanctuary encompasses over 1,200 square miles of ocean and coastal waters as well as bays and estuaries from Bodega Head in Sonoma County to waters off the San Mateo County coast. The sanctuary’s food-rich waters support the largest breeding seabird rookery in the contiguous United States. The sanctuary provides vital nursery and spawning grounds for fish and shellfish. At least 36 species of marine mammals have been observed within its borders, including 25 endangered species, such as the blue and humpback whales.
The NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program, which manages Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s marine resources and maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
On the Internet:
National Marine Sanctuary Program: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov
NOAA Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary: http://farallones.noaa.gov
Aquarium of the Bay: www.aquariumofthebay.com