Unlike a traditional aquarium, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center takes you behind the scenes to learn more about scientific research in our oceans. Learn more about elephant seal behavior, understand the role of sea otters in their ecosystem, observe the differences in plant and animal life in different tidepools, or learn more about the hearing of sea lions and harbor seals.
A Virtual Exhibit
Deep-Sea Coral is a digital mixed media project featuring curated archives from nearly 20 years of deep-sea exploration of ancient denizens of the deep. This virtual exhibit is artistically designed to merge art and marine science: Deep-Sea Coral showcases the work of Tom Guilderson, Ph.D. and Matt McCarthy, Ph.D., both of UC Santa Cruz’s Institute of Marine Sciences; it has been curated by the Seymour Marine Discovery Center and features digital artistry by UC Santa Cruz undergraduate student Saul Villegas.
Beyond the hustle and bustle of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and the sound of waves crashing against the sand, we head offshore and down into the ocean. Beneath the last twinkle of sunlight we find amazing ‘coral’ organisms in the deep-sea ocean.
Like their tropical, surface ocean cousins, these macrofauna provide habitat and ecosystem for commercially-important groundfish, such as sea bass and cod. These colonial organisms build their skeletons out of calcium carbonate and wind organic proteins into a tough, horny home.
Locked within the skeleton of deep-sea corals are records of past environmental and climate variability. Because of the longevity of deep-sea coral, their organic skeletons recovered near Hawai’i clearly show climatic changes over the past 1,000 years.
The mesopelagic, otherwise known as the ocean’s twilight zone, extends from 200 to 1,000 meters below the surface of the ocean. Linking all of the world’s oceans, it is the largest continuous ecosystem and biome on Earth. The mesopelagic is home to familiar-looking creatures such as seastars and urchins, as well as to unique and alien-looking life such as mid-water gelatinous creatures and deep-sea corals.
Many of the deep-sea corals and related biota have colonial lifespans of one hundred or more years. Colonies of some genera have continuously added growth from new individuals for thousands of years. Although this realm is out of sight of most humans, our actions and choices can have a dramatic impact on these delicate and important ecosystems.
Squidtoons: Exploring Ocean Science with Comics
Dive into some interesting (and weird!) science about underwater creatures with our virtual exhibit, Squidtoons!
This virtual exhibit consists of beautifully drawn, large-format educational comic images combining fun science facts, kid-friendly wit, and a strong environmental message. From giant manta rays to moon jellies, Squidtoons presents real ocean science in a series of entertaining, easy-to-understand scrollable comic images. Venture from the seashore to the deep sea, and learn about the ocean’s diverse life forms.
Squidtoons creator Garfield Kwan was born in Hong Kong, and immigrated to Los Angeles at the age of 8. After finishing his undergraduate degree at University of California, San Diego, he started Squidtoons in 2013 to illustrate marine science using comics and illustrations. He is currently finishing his PhD in marine fish physiology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.