Marine Camp 2016: Underwater Investigator Sneak Peak

The Underwater Investigator camp for entering 6th-8th graders is a week-long program that is sure to inspire curiosity about the various fields within marine science. This summer campers will explore a different marine science field each day, including marine ecology and conservation, biodiversity, physical and biological oceanography, biomimicry, and will even learn what it takes to be an aquarist. They will practice scientific data collection on land by using real scientific equipment and they will also create their own quadrat, a research tool used to collect data to survey the biodiversity and health of a habitat. Campers will also spend a fun day canoeing to nearby Bair Island where they will investigate mud-dwelling invertebrates, examine the hydrology of the slough, and check out native and non-native plants that make this wetland such a unique habitat.

Their camp week culminates in a fun 2-day-long trip aboard our research vessel, and campers and staff even sleep aboard the boat! Campers will board the boat at 9am on the Thursday of their camp week and participate in various marine science studies as they venture to Sausalito for field trip activities. They will then have free time playing games and exploring the area while we barbecue dinner. Campers will then board the boat and watch a movie as we head to the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor for the overnight portion. On Friday campers will use scientific equipment to sample fish from the Bay, examine invertebrates from the mud, and study plankton underneath a microscope. This fun-filled week is packed with action!

Currently all of the Underwater Investigator sessions are full but campers can still be registered for the waitlists.


June 20-24

July 11-15

July 25-29



Marine Camp Sneak Peek: Summer Scholarship Fund

Mud grab boatSummer camp is a time for children to enjoy making friends, sharing interests, and learning outside the classroom. Summer matters, it is important to keep young minds and bodies in motion, and doing so is proven to help kids transition back into school in the fall more successfully. At Marine Science Institute we provide funding for schools to enjoy our programs year-round, and it is important for us to continue to create equity and increase access to quality programs through the summer.

Our Summer Camp Scholarship Fund provides opportunities for children from families with demonstrated financial need to enjoy the fun, learning, and benefits of summer camp. This fund is supported entirely by the charitable donations of our community. We have been touched by the generosity of families, individuals, and even other children who have raised funds and contributed. By giving to this fund, local families are investing in the future of young scientists.

Please consider supporting this fund today. For a limited time only, donations to this fund will be matched! CLICK HERE to make a contribution.

Visit our Scholarship page to learn more and to apply for a scholarship.

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Upcoming Events

Canoes and Sloughs!

Come enjoy a leisurely Saturday paddle

Saturday, April 5th                   9:00am ~2:00pm


The weather is nice and the water is flat! Join us for an extraordinary outing in our fleet of canoes guided by our expert naturalist instructors. No experience necessary, and we provide all of the necessary equipment to explore the local flora and fauna of Bair Island, a rare example of a undeveloped wetland ecosystem.  5yrs or older.

$10 for MSI members, $20 for non-members. Space tends to fill up for these events quickly, so please RSVP soon.

Register here

Other Up-Coming Events

EARTH DAY ON THE BAY~ April 19, 10:00am-5:00pm (Eco tours require advance registration)

Marsh and Beach Expedition ~ May 10, 10:00am-1:00pm (Pescadero Beach)

Events require advanced registration


Earth Day on the Bay Preview

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On Saturday April 19th the Marine Science Institute will be celebrating its annual Earth Day on the Bay celebration.

Our all-day event is meant to provide fun, safe, and special memories for the whole family that will foster and grow cherished connections between your family and the San Francisco Bay.

We’re open to the public just once a year and we have made sure to bundle as much wonder, fun, and knowledge into a single day as possible!  Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see our beautiful bay anew!

Featuring MSI’s exclusive combination of music, mud, and sea creatures, Earth Day is an enjoyably edutaining time for all!

Up Coming Events


Lets go to the TIDE POOLS!!

Saturday, March 1                  3:45pm ~ 5:45pm

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Jodi showing off last month’s tide pool find

Come on out for an afternoon of adventure with MSI as we take off to the Pillar Point tidepool’s! This is a great all-ages, family event. $10 for MSI members, $20 for non-members. Spaces are limited and they tend to fill up for these events quickly, so don’t forget to register!



Other Up-Coming Events

Eco-Tour aboard the Robert G. Brownlee ~ March 8, 1pm-3pm and 3pm-5pm

Shark Day – March 15, 10:00am-12:00pm

Canoe Outing ~ April 5, 9:00am-2:00pm

EARTH DAY ON THE BAY~ April 19, 10:00am-5:00pm (Eco tours require advance registration)

Events require advanced registration

Marine Camp Sneak Peek: Ocean Explorers exciting field trip

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Ocean Explorers have a whole world of habitats to study. From the California coast, across the ocean and down to the deep, there are many unique ecosystems. I am excited for all of the changes and additions that are coming up this summer. I am also excited to return to an old favorite field trip to the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (FNMS) VisitorCenter at Crissy Field.

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Our partners at FNMS have provided fantastic programming for our camps in past summers. This year we are excited to be collaborating on new curriculum that will highlight the unique ecosystem found in the Gulf of the Farallones. This remarkable stretch of water, so close to the San Francisco Bay, is home to many threatened and endangered species, features diverse habitats and has been important to the cultural and natural history of this area.

Our Ocean Explorers can look forward to learning more about these mysterious islands and some of their most famous inhabitants, such as white sharks and the endangered murres. They will practice research techniques and see the results of research that has taught us so much about this local marine habitat as well as marine ecology across the globe.  

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Creature Feature: Sacramento Splittail

The Sacramento Splittail (Pogonichthys macrolepidotus) is a local species to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta system. Spilttail is a perfect name for this endemic fish. They have an over sized upper lobe of a caudal (tail) fin. Splittails have a silver olive gray back and can grow over 40 cm.

The Sacramento Splittail has been a hot topic in the delta ecosystem. In 2003 they were taken off the threatened species list even though some believed they should have been put on the endangered species list. With persistence from scientists and local agencies in 2010 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service worked on a 12 month study. This study showed that there was no recent decline in the abundance or significant threat to the Splittails.  Findings did show a high spawning period during flood years and a low spawning period during dry years. “If future evidence suggests that these threats are contributing to significant population declines, the Service may propose the species for ESA protection.” (


Upcoming Events

Elephant Seals Extravaganza!

Elephant Seal Walk at Año Nuevo

Saturday, February 15th                   9:00am ~ 1:00pm

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 Join MSI as we give you a unique guided perspective on our local marine mammals-the elephant seals. You and your family will learn why they congregate each year in the same location, what role they play in our local eco systems, and enjoy an amazing time being up and close to these unique animals.

This event is $10 for members, $20 for non-members

Advanced Registration is required since space is limited

Seal Walk: Walks last about 2.5 hours, and consist of a moderately strenuous 3 mile hike over sand and sloping terrain.

Be prepared for windy, rainy conditions, as well as muddy trails. Layered clothing, sturdy shoes, and hooded rain gear are recommended. Bring bottled water for drinking as there is none available during the walk.

Pets are not allowed in the Park and cannot be left inside parked vehicles in the parking lot. No kennels are available. Please make provisions for your pets.

No smoking or eating is allowed on the walks.

Parking fees are not included in ticket price and are collected at the Park

Auto $10.00; Senior – Auto $9.00.

Register here

Other Up-Coming Events

March 1, 3:45pm-5:45pm ~ Low Tide Walk

March 8, 1pm – 3pm and 3pm-5pm ~ Eco Tour aboard our Ship, the Robert G. Brownlee

March 15, 10am – 12pm ~ Shark Day

Events require advanced registration

Ocean Views Project: Watershed Adventures

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Canoeing through sloughs! A Discovery Voyage aboard our ship! Shoreside programs in our learning aquarium! Kennedy and Peascadero students are having a blast discovering their local watersheds with our Ocean Views program.

For many students canoeing is a brand new adventure and learning how to paddle is one of the hardest tasks. Students work as a team to maneuver the canoes from MSI to BairIsland. BairIsland is a local marsh habitat which houses endangered California clapper rails and salt marsh harvest mice. The students travel through Smith Slough, observing the habitat, spotting animals and taking water samples. Throughout the year, these students will take water samples from their local streams and in the San Francisco Bay Estuary to observe the health of the water.

Check out this video of students exploring on canoes

Pescadero students get to learn all about an urban watershed which differs from their rural watershed where the Pescadero students reside. Click here for more background information on the watersheds that these students are studying. These students used a seine net to collect fish right off the beach at the Marine Science Institute and ventured into exploring the wonders of invertebrates.

Let us see what these students are experiencing through their eyes

For this program, Kennedy students venture into the San Francisco Bay Estuary aboard the R/V Robert G. Brownlee to see where their watershed spills out. Aboard the Brownlee, these students explore plankton, test the water’s health, dig through the mud, and catch some fish.

Take a closer look at their experience here!

Join us for our next adventure, all about Snowy Plovers!

Creature Feature: Striped bass

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: National Digital Library


Striped bass (Morone saxatilis), also known as “stripers” to fishermen, are an introduced sport fish to the Sacramento—San Joaquin Delta. Native to the Atlantic coast, striped bass were overfished in the 1980s. Regulations helped their populations increase and are no longer an overfished species.



Striped bass are named for the horizontal stripes along their body. Average adult size is around 2-4 ft but there has been some recorded being as long as 6ft.  Striped bass are anadromous species, which means they migrate from the ocean to fresh water to spawn. They spawn in spring in open fresh water.  When striped bass are in their juvenile state they feed on small crustaceans, as they grow to adult hood they begin to feed on smaller fish like herring, shad, and smelt.


Take a dive into this video to see striped bass swimming!


National Geographic has a great activity for 6-8th graders! This activity will help your students to analyze data, by looking at maps, graphs, and water quality. Click on link to get the full program materials.






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