Marine Biology & Oceanography

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.

Fish Lab

Utilizing well-stocked aquariums along with preserved specimens and exhibits, our instructors will help students become more familiar with the biology of fish they observe during their snorkels. Students are also introduced to the classification, anatomy, behavior, and unique adaptations of fish.

Shark Lab

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.

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.

cimi fox landing sea creature


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.

Plankton Lab

Divided into teams, students will observe their water 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.

Invertebrates Biology 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.

Marine Mammals

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!

cimi fox landing sea creature

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.

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