In collaboration with the City of Santa Cruz, UCSC's Seymour Marine Discovery Center is now leading free 30-minute public tours on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf every Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 3 p.m. The Seymour Center's marine science interpreters are also available between tours to answer questions about the variety of wildlife visible at the wharf.
What are the sea lions hanging out the end of the wharf up to? Why is the water green? What time of year can you see whales? Answers to these questions and more are now readily available from the Seymour Center docents at the wharf.
Extending a half mile into the Monterey Bay, the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf is an ideal location for visitors and scientists alike to learn about the ocean without boarding a boat. The new tours feature the work of UCSC scientists and collaborators, whose research projects at the wharf contribute to marine conservation. Visitors will learn about the wharf's sustainable energy test bed, how sea lions make decisions in the wild, and what studying the green water tells us about the health of the bay.
"It was a natural connection for us as part of UCSC's Long Marine Lab," said Chris Reeves, visitor programs manager for the Seymour Center. "The tours are a great opportunity to connect visitors with the science behind what they see, and for them to learn a little about how science contributes to ocean health."
Tours meet at the stage on the west side of the wharf between Olitas and Marini's, and end a short walk away at the sea lion overlook. Tours run year-round, rain or shine. According to Jeff Myll, one of the Seymour Center docents leading the tours, the first question from many visitors is, "How did those sea lions get up under the wharf?"
"It's really been a lot of fun for visitors to connect their general questions with the research going on at Long Marine Lab," Myll said.
In addition to the docent-led tours, blue-and-green signs at several locations on the wharf and elsewhere along the coast of Santa Cruz provide information accessible with a smart phone as part of a self-guided "ecotour" program sponsored by the City of Santa Cruz and UC Santa Cruz.
Visitors are welcome at the Seymour Center at Long Marine Laboratory every day during the summer and six days a week beginning in September. The center is a "living classroom" featuring aquariums, exhibits, touch tanks, whale skeletons, full-scale elephant seal models, the Ocean Discovery Shop, and unsurpassed ocean vistas. The aquariums and exhibits feature the everyday tools of ocean exploration and focus on research conducted by scientists locally and around the world. Interactive stations provide hands-on learning experiences, and docents lead tours and bring marine science to life. The Seymour Center is located at the end of Delaware Avenue in Santa Cruz.
For more information about the Seymour Center or the wharf tours, call (831) 459-3800 or visit the center's web site at seymourcenter.ucsc.edu.