Marine Biology & Oceanography

Fish and Shark Lab


Utilizing well-stocked aquariums along with preserved specimens and exhibits, our instructors will help students become more familiar with the fish they observe during their snorkels. Students are also introduced to the classification, anatomy, behavior, and unique adaptations of fish. The shark lab features a large touch tank filled with small sharks and their cartilaginous relatives, skates and rays. Having the opportunity to interact with these animals in a controlled environment helps to mitigate the myth of their danger. Instructors will use specimens and other visual aids to teach students the characteristic biology and different species of sharks.

Invertebrates Lab


A host of local invertebrates is available to view and touch in this lab. Our large touch tank is well stocked with a number of these animals without backbones. Through close student examination of these animals, instructors facilitate discussions of classification, species identification, adaptations and natural history. Additionally, tiny parts can become major points of discussion while using the waterproof MVU (Macro Video Unit). The MVU allows real-time video to be displayed on a large flat screen TV, so all students can participate in the learning process.

Algae Lab


In the algae lab, students will survey over a dozen local species of algae while using a dichotomous key. The classification, adaptations, anatomy, and various human uses of algae are topics for discussion. Students finish this lab by preparing a pressed algae sample for use back in their classroom.

 Oceanography


The ocean is the classroom as students and teachers head down to the end of our pier and work right on the water. While aboard our float, students will observe the local currents and bottom composition as well as measure water temperature, wind, and water clarity.  Students will also collect a water sample for further study in the plankton lab.

Plankton Lab


Divided into teams, students will observe their samples and using video microscopes, they will identify the different types of plankton that are present. In this state-of-the-art lab the instructor can share an individual group’s discovery with the rest of the class via Mac mini computers and a connected SMART board. Instructors will also lead students in a discussion of the food web and some of the effects pollution has on the world’s oceans.

Tide Pooling

Students will discuss the lunar cycle, currents, tides, and the interaction between land and water, which creates this unique habitat. Using direct observation, students learn about the abundance and types of algae and animal species in the area. Discussion of the unique characteristics of tidal zones and their inhabitants further demonstrate adaptations, physiology, and ecology of tide pool biota.

 Marine Mammals (Evening Program)

In this laboratory the students will see a variety of marine mammal bones and skulls, hear marine mammal sounds, and be able to see an actual Gray Whale skeleton (20ft. in length).  Instructors will explore the characteristics that define mammals and the attributes that allow mammals to successfully cope with the environmental challenges of life in the ocean.  Students will also watch an interactive video exhibiting different marine mammals in their natural habitat.

Deep Sea Biology (Evening Program)

In this lab, instructors use games, activities, demonstrations, and slides of deep-sea creatures to help students discover how these amazing organisms communicate, navigate, feed, breathe and survive in such extreme conditions.

Fisheries Awareness (Evening Program)

We have a variety of programs to choose from, depending on group size and interest.  Options include: Fisheries (a program based around our impact on the oceans by different fishing methods), “Trashing our Oceans” (looking at the life cycle of different materials in the ocean), The Santa Clara Island Game (where students design their own island, having to consider issues such as development, conservation, resources, etc.)  Our program coordinator will be happy to help you decide which program will be the best fit for your group.