A Day at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Neil, Kelly, and I just got back from spending the day at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz. It had something for to pique everyone’s interest.

Neil found a science computer quiz neil-and-computer.jpg

a Jeopardy-style quiz game, and a scavenger hunt.

Kelly found jigsaw puzzles and a crafts room where she made herself a whale hat:

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And I enjoyed the spectacular scenery of the Monterey Bay

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And beautiful fish like the blue rockfish which I wouldn’t be sorry (but not too sorry) to eat if one of his relatives showed up at the farmer’s market:

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Speaking of eating, this sea anemone had no similar qualms about trying to eat me, but luckily, I was too big and tough for a decent meal:

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I also received a possible answer to the question always on my mind when I go to Capitola beaches: why is there so much seaweed on the beach? According to the docents at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, seaweed has roots, which are neccessary for seaweed forests a lot of sealife lives in. Sea urchins eat the seaweed roots, but the sea urchin is usually kept under control by the otters, who eat them. Unfortunately, the otter population in the Monterey Bay Natural Marine Sanctuary is declining. There’s no concrete cause for it, besides the fact that scientists think they’re moving south and out of the sanctuary.

We took the free tour offered as a part of entry. It was a particularly bright group, with a fellow (not marine biology) scientist and several junior lifeguards in attendance, but Kelly whined throughout the tour. The dolphins even tried to cheer her up by playing peek-a-boo with her, but she was determined to be grumpy.

She did lighten up when she discovered the Discovery Center had children’s books. I read her Eric Carle’s A House for a Hermit Crab, and afterwards showed her the hermit crabs in the nearby touch tank. Neil made each of us “catch” tonight’s dinner in a magnetic fishing game.

Santa Cruz, understandly, because of its great natural beauty and small size, is a bastion of environmentalists. I saw several bicycles parked at the Discovery Center, as well as an electric flatbed truck. I respect–nay, admire–people whose actions follow their ideals. I ride a bicycle myself and run around turning off the lights for the same reasons. On the way home, however, I found myself behind a Mazda truck with an enclosure, exactly the kind of vehicle a scuba diver or surfer needs as a place to stow gear and provide a mobile changing room. Among the truck’s rich collection of political bumper stickers, it had one that said “Osama Loves Your SUV.” True enough, but I think Osama loves the Mazda truck too, cause I don’t think it’s burning much less gas than the typical SUV another kind of outdoorsman, i.e. backpackers and mountain bikers, drive. I just remained silent in my little car. Another one of the bumper stickers said “Honk if you’re a democrat–Everyone else gets the finger.” I noticed no one was honking, so maybe the driver also believes the world is full of Republicans.

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