The Marine Biology and Oceanography programs at Toyon Bay are centered around our dedicated labs, state of the art equipment, and hands-on teaching areas. Check out the brief class descriptions and videos below to experience our fantastic facilities.
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.
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.
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.
Divided into teams, students will observe their samples through a video microscope and 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.
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.
In the Marine Mammal Hall, students and teachers view an impressive collection of fully articulated marine mammal skeletons, including a gray whale, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions and sea otters. Students can touch and study bones, skulls, and fur pelts while learning about mammal classifications, anatomy, features, and behaviors with their instructor. The lab also includes a new Whale Tail Amphitheater that features an impressive collection of terrestrial and marine animal skulls that the students are encouraged to touch while they take a hands-on approach to comparative anatomy and discuss the unique features of each skull. More great additions are in the works so be sure to check back soon!
Deep Sea / Creatures of the Night
In this lab, instructors use games, activities (including a completely dark maze), 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.