What’s New?


Say Hello to Our New Director — Jonathan Andres Hicken!

We are pleased to announce the Seymour Marine Discovery Center has chosen Jonathan Andres Hicken to be its new director. Starting in mid-August, Hicken will be stepping into the role following the retirement of founding director Julie Barrett Heffington after 21 years of service.

Our mission at the Seymour Center is to educate people about the role scientific research plays in the understanding and conservation of the worlds’ oceans. We know that Jonathan will continue this mission throughout this exciting new phase of the Seymour Center.

Jonathan has lived in Santa Cruz with his family for over a decade, and has experience growing organizations both in Silicon Valley and here in town at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. He is also an accomplished fundraiser—since 2019 he has worked to raise significant financial resources for the environment, outdoor recreation, and homelessness in the Santa Cruz community through Housing Matters and his own company, Giving Studio.

Please read this article to learn more about Jonathan.


The Secret Life of Larval Fish: A Geocaching Adventure!

Why do baby fish look so different from their adult forms? What kinds of strategies do fish use for raising their young? And just what kind of fish live in Monterey Bay, anyway? The answers to these questions lie in five secret containers hidden around our Coastal Science Campus. Will you be able to find them all?


March for Science, Santa Cruz, April 22, 2017

On April 22 our community will take part in the global March for Science —  an unprecedented gathering of people standing together to acknowledge the critical role that science plays in our world and our daily lives. March for Science Santa Cruz will be one of nearly 400 community-based celebrations of this national and international event.

The goal is straightforward: to demonstrate the broad range of voices that support science-based policies in the public interest and the integrity of scientific inquiry. Never has this seemed more urgent.

If you want to know more about the national event go to www.marchforscience.com.

To learn more about our local event, including the timing and route for the march, at www.marchforsciencesantacruz.org.

We encourage all of you who are available that day to participate.

March for Science Santa Cruz is being planned in collaboration with the community’s Earth Day celebration. We’ll gather at Santa Cruz City Hall at 10 am, walk through downtown, along the riverwalk, and over to San Lorenzo Park where the march will end, and Earth day activities will continue from 11 am – 4 pm.

The Organizing committee includes representatives from the City and County of Santa Cruz, Ecology Action, Save Our Shores, Santa Cruz Natural History Museum, UCSC, Cabrillo College, local schools, SACNAS (Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) and more. Let us know if someone from your organization would like to join the organizing committee.


Seymour Center in the News!


Artist-in-Residence — Kayla Kemper

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Kayla Kemper, a recent graduate of the Science Illustration program at California State University, Monterey Bay, interned at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center from June through August, 2016. No stranger to the Seymour Center, Kayla previously worked at the Center during her years as an undergraduate in the Art Department at UC Santa Cruz.

Last summer, Kayla served as the Seymour Center’s artist-in-residence, creating scientific illustrations and animations for exhibits and education programs. Her projects included animations of blue, humpback and gray whales diving and feeding and 3D animations of tide pool life. Come see Kayla’s designs and animations throughout the Center.




WE WON… the Seymour Center will remain on “the board” at the Westside and Downtown Santa Cruz New Leaf Community Markets thanks to your votes!

Every dollar we raise supports marine science education and conservation.Every time you reuse a bag at New Leaf Community Markets, you have 10¢ to give to a local, non-profit group working for the environment. In 1993, New Leaf started the Envirotoken Program to conserve resources by encouraging recycling, as well as to support local non-profits working to protect the environment.




September 2018
Sea Otter Awareness Week falls on the last week in September and is an annual recognition of the vital role that sea otters play in the nearshore ecosystem. Each year, zoos, aquariums, natural history museums, marine institutions, filmmakers, researchers, academics, educators, and the public participate in various events and activities highlighting sea otters and their natural history and the various conservation issues facing sea otters.



The Seymour Center had a special visit from Joy Reidenberg and a BBC Big Blue Live film crew capturing footage for the PBS and BBC co-produced event.

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Big Blue Live was a live television and online event celebrating some of the world’s most amazing marine creatures converging off California’s coast. Set in Monterey Bay, the bay has experienced an environmental rebirth. This wildlife success story attracts humpback whales, blue whales, sea lions, dolphins, elephant seals, sea otters, great white sharks, shearwaters, and much more for a once-a-year marine animal phenomenon.


Our Ocean BackyardOur Ocean Backyard Collected Essays
Collected Essays by Gary Griggs

Distinguished professor of Earth and planetary sciences
Director, Institute of Marine Sciences
University of California, Santa Cruz

For the three billion people on Earth who live in coastal regions, the ocean is figuratively, if not literally, “our backyard.” Many of us have sought out ocean areas in which to live, work, or vacation. They enrich our lives in countless ways, but our interactions with them have not always been positive.

In April 2008, Gary Griggs, a coastal geologist and oceanographer who has studied the oceans for over forty-six years and is known for making science understandable, enjoyable, and accessible to non-scientists, was asked to write a bi-weekly column, “Our Ocean Backyard” for the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

This book is a collection of the first six-and-a-half years of his short essays, which cover ocean exploration, natural disasters, marine life, the natural and geologic history of the Monterey Bay region, waves and beaches, energy and water, and climate change and sea-level rise. Gary writes not to advocate, but rather to illuminate. His goal is always to explain the science, which in turn enhances our enjoyment of this beautiful resource, and also empowers us to make considered, informed decisions – whether it is in our daily lives, or in the voting booth.

Griggs’ book is currently available online.

John Laird, California’s Secretary of Resources says:

I marvel at Gary’s ability to relate more complex situations in an understandable form for lay people-an in a way that holds their interests. It is obvious why he has been a successful and much-loved teacher for over four decades”.


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Read about the Seymour Center in the San Francisco Chronicle’s travel section.


Congratulations to our World Oceans Day Instagram contest winner – Ranya!

The Seymour Center exhibit that most inspires Ranya to protect our oceans is our gray whale skeleton because “Whales travel more than you!”

This is very true (at least we hope it is!) as gray whales travel 10,000-12,000 miles every year—the longest known migration of any mammal.

Thank you to everyone who participated—we look forward to more amazing photo submissions in future contests!


Tour the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf

April – September 2015

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The Seymour Marine Discovery Center is now leading tours on the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf. Join us for an informative half hour, a half mile out at sea!

  • Tour times are every Saturday and Sunday during Spring and Summer, rain or shine, at 1:00 and 3:00 PM. Tours are 30 minutes long.
  • Tours meet on the wharf stage on the west side of the wharf, near Olitas restaurant.
  • Learn about marine research in progress, from clean energy pursuits to marine mammal behavior and conservation. Find out how you can help solve ocean pollution.
  • Docents will be available after tours to provide additional information and answer questions.
  • Tours will be cancelled if the wharf is closed due to weather conditions, or if the tour would conflict with a major event held on the wharf.


Gray Whale Mother and Calf Half-Ton Wooden Sculptures

momandcalfA new exhibit, gray whale mother and calf models by master whale sculptor Wick Ahrens and artist Linda Emme, has been installed just inside the Seymour Center entry. The 1/3-scale whale models are carved from solid sugar pine and weigh about 1,000 pounds. It was no small feat to hang them from cables in our ceiling but they are now “swimming” into our exhibit hall. Although gray whales are commonly seen along our local coast today, they were hunted to the edge of extinction in the 1850s. The gray whale was given full protection in 1947. Since that time the Eastern North Pacific gray whale population (the population visible along our coast) has made a remarkable recovery and now numbers between 19,000 and 23,000, probably close to the original size. The sculptures pay homage to this recovery story. The mother and calf replicas will also help visitors understand what they are seeing as these animals literally, travel right by. Gray whales are one of the animal kingdom’s great migrators, with some swimming more than 12,000 miles round-trip between Mexico and Alaska. The Center’s vantage point gives people an outstanding opportunity to see whales from shore as they pass by, hugging the northern edge of Monterey Bay.


August 15, 2021, 1:30 PM
Join us–online! “Fascinating Fish Bones: Archaeology for the Future of Fishers and Fisheries.” Preregister.

Continue exploring the diversity of mollusks around the world with Mollusk Mates. Find the newest coloring pages, here.

Say hello to the new Seymour Center director — Jonathan Andres Hicken! Starting in mid-August, Jonathan will continue the important work of the Seymour Center. Learn more, here.

Join our teamJOIN OUR TEAM!
The Seymour Center is seeking to hire for multiple positions. Learn about these opportunities, here.


Find events and activities for ocean-enthusiasts of all ages.



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