Do you want to pet a shark? How about hold a sea star? See the world’s largest whale skeleton? Then you’re in luck! Here in Santa Cruz you can do all those things and more at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. You’ll see real scientists at work at this incredible center, as it is actually part of the Long Marine Laboratory and serves as a base for field research in Monterey Bay and the ocean beyond.
Rich Marine Environment
The marine environment in Monterey Bay rivals that of any other place on earth and makes it an excellent place to study marine science. The protected waters of the bay provide a safe harbor for marine life that live there or are just passing through. The abundance of sea life here is breathtaking. You can see everything from harbor seals, to sea otters, to bottlenose dolphins, to porpoises. You may also catch glimpses of various species of sea lions and sea otters that are present at different times of year. There are over 450 different kinds of large marine algae and thousands of migratory birds and fish that visit the bay.
Unlike other public aquariums, the Seymour Center is where to go to understand the world of the scientist. The interior is similar to a working lab where marine scientists spend their days – not quite like the polished halls of most museums. The exhibits you’ll find here center on science, and seek to answer the questions, “what is science?”, “why is science important?”, and “who are scientists?”.
Watch Marine Creatures at the Aquarium
The Seymour Center features animals that scientists might study. They all have unique characteristics, such as fast movement, bright color, or a bizarre look that provokes a scientist to look further. The aquarium is set up like a working marine laboratory, not like habitat tanks you’d see in a museum.
You can hold different creatures in your hand at the seawater table, including sea stars, sea urchins, hermit crabs, sea anemones and kelp. If you’re brave, you can try touching the friendly shark in the center’s new shark pool.
Visit the “What’s in the bay today?” tank to see creatures that are found in Monterey Bay and rarely seen in traditional aquariums like squid eggs, young rockfish, sea hares, and basket stars.
See the Blue Whale Skeleton
No visit to the Seymour Center is complete without seeing the blue whale skeleton, or “Ms. Blue” as it’s called by the volunteers. It is one of only four blue whale skeletons on display in North America, and this specimen is the largest in the world. At 87 feet long, it is a sight to behold.
The Seymour Center is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and on Sunday from noon to 5pm. In July and August, they are also open on Mondays from 10am to 5pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for students, seniors and children. A limited number of tours are offered each day, and are on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information, visit http://seymourcenter.ucsc.edu/visitor_information.html.