From the mountains and deserts, to deep ocean waters and salt marshes, San Diego County contains more biodiversity than any other region in the contiguous United States. Encounter local wildlife from endangered sea turtles to the rare Shaw’s agave, all within the peaceful setting of a National Wildlife Refuge on San Diego Bay.
Get face-to-face with an endangered Eastern Pacific green sea turtle. Acting as an ambassador for the wild sea turtles that inhabit San Diego Bay, our “unofficial greeter” is guaranteed to make you smile before you even enter the front doors. Don’t forget to snap a sea turtle selfie! Book a Private Turtle Encounter before your visit to meet the sea turtle with one of our Keeper staff.
Discover the animals that make up San Diego’s watersheds. From the trout and amphibians in mountain streams to the lobsters and seahorses in San Diego Bay, and the octopuses and jellies off the coast. Then explore drier habitats with native reptiles like iguanas and snakes and invertebrates like tarantulas and scorpions.
Shark & Ray Experience
Enter into the fascinating world of sharks and rays! Touch the velvety backs of friendly rays as they glide through the interactive touch pool. Then view leopard, horn, and swell sharks in a 21,000-gallon exhibit with multiple underwater viewing areas. Don’t forget to say “Hi” to Sapphire, our only loggerhead sea turtle and gem of the Shark & Ray Experience.
Owls, hawks, falcons, and even a roadrunner! San Diego is home to dozens of raptor (bird of prey) species. Encounter our bird ambassadors and learn how awe-inspiring each species is. You may even run into one of our Keepers walking around with a bird on a glove! Or book your own Private Raptor Encounter.
Step into the walk-through aviary to enter the home of native shorebirds in a peaceful tidal slough habitat. Keep an eye out for the ruddy duck, hooded merganser, and white-faced ibis. Don’t miss the additional exhibits with breeding endangered Ridgway’s rails. If you’re visiting in the spring, you may even spot chicks!
Please note: the Shorebird Aviary is currently closed for renovation. We apologize for any inconvenience.
At Eagle Mesa, you will be face-to-face with the majestic national symbols of the United States and Mexico: bald and golden eagles. Learn how these giant birds take flight, catch prey, and use their incredible eyesight to spot prey. Plan your visit for feeding time for an extra-special encounter.
Native Pollinator Garden
Birds, Bees, Bats, & Butterflies! Pollinators depend on us for their survival (and vis versa). All of the plants in our garden are native to coastal San Diego County and can inspire your very own pollinator garden! Planting a pollinator garden can not only make your home more attractive, but also lower your water bills through drought tolerance. Pollinators worldwide are in crisis, with numbers of bees, butterflies, and other pollinating species in decline. Support them by planting native plants.
Take a walk through the Compost Garden and learn how you can use your food waste to your advantage (and avoid sending it to the landfill). Reduce your carbon footprint and grow your garden with nutrient-rich soils regardless of If you have a backyard. Take it a step further and attend one of our free-with-admission compost workshops.
San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge is home to over a mile of walking trails that lead from our building out to the San Diego Bay. With views of the Coronado Bridge, San Diego skyline, and even Mexico, it’s tough to beat. Grab your binoculars and camera and see if you can glimpse the wildlife from lizards and rabbits, to migrating shorebirds and raptors.