Blue Whale Skeleton
You can’t miss Ms. Blue! Our 87-foot blue whale skeleton is one of the largest skeletons of any kind, displayed any where in the world.When she died in 1979, she washed ashore north of Santa Cruz near Pescadero and her skeleton was assembled in 1985. She is only one of four blue whale skeletons on display in North America, and she may be the largest one displayed in the world.
For the fascinating story of our blue whale, read David Casper’s speech at the dedication of Ms. Blue.
Elephant Seal Sculptures
The life-size elephant seal replicas near the entrance to the Center are a tribute to the volunteers of the marine laboratory. Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) have fascinated scientists ever since they made a successful comeback from the brink of extinction. UC Santa Cruz scientists have studied these seals, learning about their reproductive behavior, parenting methods, and diving and feeding habits. One of the largest elephant seal rookeries in the world is located at Año Nuevo Island just north of Santa Cruz. Researchers use new technologies to learn more about the secret lives of elephant seals at the unique facilities of Long Marine Laboratory as well as in the open ocean. In addition to honoring marine lab volunteers, this sculpture recognizes the wonder of scientific exploration and discovery.
Gray Whale Skeleton
The gray whale skeleton displayed on our ocean bluff comes from an animal that stranded in south San Francisco Bay in 1990. This skeleton illustrates the unique feeding posture of gray whales. Unlike other baleen whales, grays swim on their sides just above the sea floor, sucking mud and sand into one side of their mouths to get at shrimp-like crustaceans called amphipods. They use their baleen to strain amphipods from the muddy water before expelling the suspended sediment out the other side of their mouths. In their wake, the whales leave behind a series of pits and furrows on the ocean floor. Look closely at the ground beneath our gray whale skeleton during your visit!
A success story, the California gray whale was recently removed from the endangered species list, and their estimated population of 22,000 to 26,000 is thought to equal the pre-whaling population.