The 87-foot blue whale skeleton at UC Santa Cruz's Long Marine Laboratory will again brighten the holiday season. Fondly known as Ms. Blue, the world's largest mounted whale skeleton will glow each evening starting December 9 at the lab's Seymour Marine Discovery Center.

To celebrate the holidays, the Seymour Center will host the Jingle Shells Art and Book Festival on Saturday, December 9, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the festive "whale lighting" ceremony at 5:30 p.m. The festival features ocean-themed books and gifts, live music, refreshments, free gift wrapping, and children's activities. Meet artists and authors, shop for unique holiday gifts, and explore the Seymour Center's exhibits, aquariums, and touch tanks. Proceeds directly support marine science education. Entrance fees to the center will be waived for children 16 and under during the entire day.

The Seymour Center will stay open for extended holiday hours until 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, December 12 and 19. From 5 to 9 p.m., the public can enjoy free admission, holiday treats, free gift-wrapping on Ocean Discovery Shop purchases, and the opportunity to behold the glowing glory of Ms. Blue.

Located on the bluffs overlooking Monterey Bay, Long Marine Lab is dedicated to advancing human understanding of the world's oceans. The lab welcomes visitors to the Seymour Center, where exhibits feature research conducted by UCSC scientists in the Monterey Bay and around the world.

The Seymour Center is located at the end of Delaware Avenue on the west side of Santa Cruz. Regular public visiting hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call (831) 459-3800 or visit the center's web site at http://seymourcenter.ucsc.edu.