Top 5 Holiday Activities around the Bay

I love being home for the holidays. Being back in the Bay means walking my favorite trails, shopping downtown and catching up with old friends. I have many traditions around the holidays with my family and friends. My favorite tradition is meeting up with my friends from high school at our favorite café to grab some warm drinks and walk along Ocean Beach. Spending time with family and friends is a huge part of the holiday season. This year we hope you include the Bay in some of your holiday traditions. These are some of our favorite ways to celebrate the holidays on the Bay in style.

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  1. Spend time outside. Celebrate the winter solstice on Wednesday, Dec. 21 by stretching your legs and spending time outdoors. Enjoy a Bay view from the nearly 350 miles of the San Francisco Bay Trail or challenge your friends to hike to the top of Mission Peak in Fremont. Your legs will be burning but you’ll have a beautiful view of the Bay to enjoy while you catch your breath.
  2. See the Bay Lights. Everyone loves to admire the neighborhood Christmas lights, but this year take it a step further and enjoy the beautiful Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and stroll along the Embarcadero to enjoy the amazing view of the lights over the Bay.
  3. River Otter Snow Day. We may not get snow days in the Bay Area but the river otters at the Aquarium by the Bay in San Francisco are getting a fresh snow day every Wednesday this month. Both kids and adults love to watch the cute otters as they slip and slide around in the snow. See the otters play in fresh snow every Wednesday from Dec. 7 to Dec. 28.
  4. Lighted Boat Parade. The lighted boat parade is an annual tradition put on by the Fisherman’s Warf Community Benefit District and the St. Francis Yacht Club. It started in 1994 and is the oldest and largest lighted holiday boat parade on San Francisco Bay. The best viewing spots are at Aquatic Park, Pier 39, Marina Green and Crissy Field in San Francisco. The parade takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16.
  5. Water sleigh ride on Lake Merritt. Enjoy a festive light-filled cruise around Lake Merritt in Oakland, complete with caroling and hot cider. Water sleigh rides will start at 6 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from Friday, Dec. 2 to Friday, Dec 23. Rides are $6 per person.

I hope you all get a chance to enjoy the Bay this holiday season and remember to take public transportation or carpool in an effort to help reduce the amount of pollution that flows into our Bay. Happy Holidays!

5 Great Spots to Learn About SF Bay

As the mom of an inquisitive 7 year old, I’m always looking for fun and beautiful places for my family to learn more about San Francisco Bay.  Here are 5 of my favorite places to learn, play and explore:

  1. Exploratorium: Science-based learning is a huge part of our mission here at Save The Bay.  And the Exploratorium located at Pier 15 in San Francisco shares that value. With hundreds of exhibits to explore and engage with, The Exploratorium has many Bay-related exhibits. Check out the Bay Observation Terrace on the upper level where you can uncover the history, geography and ecology of the Bay Area.  Plus, walk right outside and enjoy the beautiful vistas of San Francisco Bay.

    Exploratorium photo, save the bay staff
    The Exploratorium’s waterfront location offers stunning Bay views. Photo: Save The Bay staff
  2. CuriOdyssey: If learning about wildlife interest you, CuriOdyssey has many exhibits dedicated to animals that call San Francisco Bay Area home including the river otter and the black crowned night heron. Walk through a 4,000-square-foot aviary and see if you can spot a snowy egret or a golden eagle.

    3453-2 Snowy Egret Arrowhead Marsh
    Snowy Egret at Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland. Photo: Rick Lewis
  3. Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge: Visit the nation’s first urban national wildlife refuge on the southern end of San Francisco Bay in Fremont. Don Edwards NWR has 30,000 acres that host millions of migratory birds and endangered species. There are numerous recreation activities to choose from including wildlife viewing and interpretive walks. If you are lucky, you might spot two endangered species endemic to San Francisco Bay: the Ridgway’s rail and the salt marsh harvest mouse.

    Newark Slough, Photo: Paul Crockett
    Newark Slough, Don Edwards NWR Photo: Paul Crockett
  4. Aquarium of the Bay: Committed to protecting and restoring San Francisco Bay, the Aquarium of the Bay is a great place to discover more about marine animals. Get up close to some of the native shark species that call the Bay home like the leopard shark and the sevengill shark. Check out these fun “shark-tivities” including feeding the sharks, a shark touch pool and an exciting walk through the underwater tunnel.

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    The Broadnose Sevengill Shark is one of six shark species that live in San Francisco Bay.Photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium
  5. Bay Area Discovery Museum: With expansive views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito is a great way to play and learn about the Bay.  Play outdoors and feel the rush of cold-water tide pools, climb around iconic Bay Area landmarks or be a ship captain in Lookout Cove. Play indoors in Bay Hall with boats, ships and a Fisherman’s Wharf model.  This is a fun destination to be inspired by the Bay’s beauty and let your imagination run wild.

    Golden Gate Bridge at Sunset - Photo: Jill Zwicky
    View of the Golden Gate Bridge from Cavillo Point. Photo: Jill Zwicky

These 5 great spots to learn about SF Bay, have my 7 year old’s seal of approval!

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Looking for more ways to celebrate and enjoy the beauty of our Bay? Check out top spots to celebrate the bay, curated by our friends at Yelp!

Sharks in the Bay? Unsung Predator of the Depths

Sevengill Shark. Photo courtesy of Aquarium of the Bay

There are unseen creatures living under the surface and learning about a few of them can give the Bay new depth. The Great White Shark gets a lot of attention in the movies, but what about its toothy cousins? Introducing the Sevengill shark of San Francisco Bay!

Can I see one? Will it eat me?

The sharks like to hang out in deep water, up to 450 feet down. In the SF Bay they’re often found 60 feet below the surface, far from the deck of a ferry and still farther from the Golden Gate Bridge pedestrian path.  Your best chance to see one up close is to visit a local aquarium housing such fine beasts.  The sharks eat fish, seals, rays and other sharks. Your less buoyant, surface dwelling body is most likely not on their grocery list.

Where does the Sevengill shark breed? How long does it live? Are its numbers increasing or declining?

Sevengill sharks give live birth versus laying eggs. Between 80 and  100 young are born per pregnancy! Gestation can last up to two years. San Francisco Bay is thought to be a primary pupping ground. Aquarium of the Bay and UC Davis’ Biotelemetry Lab are currently doing research to better understand the behavior and health of these SF Bay natives.  The shark’s role in the bustling subsurface city is bound to be important even if we don’t yet know the full job description.

The Bay is right there, even in a traffic jam or windowless office; you know it’s an intersection or a glance away. These sharks, their prey and the constantly changing web of life, are just below the surface.  There is a brackish city teeming with life, relationships, and hardship in our backyard and we’re doing our best to help it thrive.