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Glass Settling Plate

Glass Settling Plate
Explore the variety of organisms that live on our piers in the Bay.

Almost any hard object submerged in San Francisco Bay—from pier pilings to the sides of sailboats—quickly becomes a habitat for an ever-changing community of living things. Here you can use a joystick-driven microscope to take a tour of the wonderland of living creatures that have settled on a glass plate that has spent some time submerged in the Bay.

What's going on?

Drifting in San Francisco Bay are millions of tiny larvae. Each one needs a hard surface where it can settle and grow. The organisms you can see at this exhibit all grew on our “settling plates” after just a few weeks.

What you might find on the settling plate on any particular day at this exhibit is anyone’s guess. Skeleton shrimp with eerie red eyes, barnacles grabbing for prey, the occasional polka-dotted nudibranch—it’s an exciting world in the briny Bay beneath the museum. And the cast of characters changes with the seasons.