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By joining the Ocean Institute, you'll receive a full year of free admission, Members-Only events and discounts on merchandise, programs and cruises. You'll also support our work to educate future generations on the importance of the oceans.

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Member Events

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Upcoming Member Events


Our monthly Member Newsletter offers an exclusive look into what's going on at the Ocean Institute. Become a member today and be the first to know about upcoming events and discounts just for you! Check back for upcoming events!

Upcoming Member Event – Unframable lecture

Wednesday, April 22
5pm – 6pm: Private Reception
6pm – 8pm: Main Presentation & Book Signing

Join us for a lecture with Unframable author Ari Friedlaender. Over the course of 25 trips to Antarctica, Ari's research program used tag technology to study the underwater behavior of marine mammals, leading to many discoveries about whales.

Reception: $55 (includes book)
Members: $5
General: $10
More Info >


Members-Only Blue Whale Discovery Cruise

We love our Members, you make a difference! Come along for a Members-Only cruise in search of the largest animal on the planet – the blue whale. Our scientific staff will guide your adventure and offer plenty of information while you enjoy your time on the R/V Sea Explorer. Special activities and prizes will be available onboard; refreshments and light snacks are included.

This is a Members-Only event, however you can register Non-Member guests at the Member price.

Dates: July 18 and 25
Times: 1pm-3:30pm
Cost: $22/adult; $19/child (3-12yrs)

There is a transaction processing fee added to all credit card, phone, and internet orders.
Register >

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Past Events


A Shark is a shark is a shark. Or is it? -
A Look at 3 Unique Ocean Predators

Lecture and Q&A with Richard Theiss
Feb. 20, 2014; 7:00 PM

People usually view sharks with both fascination and fear but often think of all sharks as simple-minded, malevolent predators. Not true! Cinematographer and ocean activist Richard Theiss will highlight the unique lifestyles and characteristics of three iconic shark species: the great white shark, the tiger shark, and the oceanic whitetip.



Tuesday, May 21, 2013; 6:30 pm

Join us for a Lecture with Stung! author Lisa-ann Gershwin

Lisa-ann Gershwin is the director of the Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services and a research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia. She was awarded a Fulbright in 1998 for her studies on jellyfish blooms and evolution, and she has discovered over 150 new species—including at least sixteen types of jellyfish that are highly dangerous, as well as a new species of dolphin-and has written for numerous scientific and popular publications.


Festival of Whales at the Ocean Institute

Celebrate the annual migration of the California Gray Whale! Join us as we participate in the community-wide event, which includes whale-themed activities and cruises. During festival weekends, explore a variety of fascinating phenomena unique to these magnificent animals. This year’s activities include maritime history exhibits aboard the Pilgrim, an exploration of whale adaptations, such as feeding and echolocation and an exhibit on whale falls. Children can explore the different sizes of whales, make crafts and even dissect a fish.  


For complete information about the Dana Point Festival of Whales, visit www.festivalofwhales.com.


August 22nd

Special screening of the computer animated film Happy Feet Two.

The evening will also feature a surprise guest speaker from the Aquarium of the Pacific and a live penguin, who will enlighten us on the wonderful aspects of the world of Penguins!

Happy Feet Two is a about the amusing trials and tribulations of being a young penguin growing up alongside other dancing penguins and being forced to dance, when all he really wants to do is fly. This movie night at the Ocean Institute is sure to be a fun family event!


August 19th

Fascinating afternoon with Dr. Goldstein, a major player in saving the life of a courageous bottlenose dolphin named Winter, who was rescued off the coast of Florida after losing her tail. This miraculous story was made into a family movie called Dolphin Tale, where we witness a prosthetic tail especially designed for the rehabilitation of the dolphin. We will also be lucky enough to enjoy the presence of the real life actress, Betsy Landin, who portrayed the dolphin trainer and marine mammal veterinarian Julie Goldstein who helped care for winter.

Winter currently resides at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida. Dr. Goldstein and Betsy Landin will share with us the amazing true story of creating a prosthetic tail for Winter and bringing the dolphin back to health.


Saturday, March 31st - 9:15am to 12:30pm

Join us as Captain Mike Bursk shares stories and facts from his years of experiences with the California Gray Whale. Then head out on the water for a 2 1/2 hour Marine Mammal Cruise aboard the R/V Sea Explorer in search of our migrating friends.  Reservations are required. 


Members - $15/person; Limited space available. Additional fee for non-member guests.


Member Lecture Event

Membership Movie Night
Betty White: Champion for Animals

Saturday, March 24th at 4pm

The Ocean Institute is pleased to present a world premiere of Betty White: Champion for Animals. Betty White’s lifelong passion for all animals inspires this heartwarming documentary about animals in our lives and in our care.  This inspiring film travels the world to provide unforgettable encounters with animals and the organizations that are working tirelessly to protect them.


The Treasure Below: Excavating at the Ancient Port of Constantinople

Saturday, March 10 - Reception and Lecture
Reception - 4:30pm

Dive into archaeology. Join us as Dr. Ufuk Kocabas takes us on a journey to the excavation site of Yenikapi to explore the oldest skeletons ever found in what is now Turkey. Here a tunnel is being constructed under the Marmara Sea to create Instanbul's most important transportation hub. In addition to the 8,500 year-old skeletons, the project has uncovered 36 shipwrecks, including Byzantine galleys - the first ever found - part of a breakwater that that protected the city's first harbor, and more than 40,000 artifacts, including wine and olive oil amphorae, and many decorative and every day items.

Ufuk Kocabas, director of Istanbul University's Yenikapi Shipwrecks Project, tells the amazing story of this construction project that turned into major archaeological treasure trove. His first-hand recounting of this unexpected bonanza of ancient history - and now one of the biggest digs in years - includes video clips, animation, and 3-D segments.


Membership Lecture Event

Saturday & Sunday, February 18 & 19, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Activities and tours throughout the day on Saturday will lead into a lecture by Capt. Moore at 4pm in the Samueli Conference Center. 4-6pm. One hour for the lecture and the remainder of the time for a book signing.

The Ocean Institute will welcome the Sea Dragon, a 72-foot steel-hull sailing research vessel, on Saturday & Sunday, February 18 & 19, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Beginning May 1, 2012, the Sea Dragon will embark on a 7,000-mile expedition through the Pacific Ocean’s “Western Garbage Patch Gyre,” a vast vortex of ocean currents where plastic debris accumulates, and through the “Japan Tsunami Debris Field,” the remnants of the tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011.

The expedition was organized by 5 Gyres Institute and the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (Algalita) in collaboration with Pangaea Explorations. Visitors can tour the Sea Dragon and view exhibits highlighting the focus of its exploration


Membership Lecture Event

Thursday, February 16th, 2012 - 6:30 PM

Guest speaker Dr. Karen Martin will showcase the new film: Surf, Sand, and Silversides: the California Grunion

The film documentary shows the elusive but spectacular natural phenomenon of midnight spawning runs, and the challenges facing this charismatic surfing fish and its nests on urban beaches of California.



An evening with Dr. Stan Cummings

November 28, 2011 - 7PM

Sailing Home 
… to the Orange County Marine Institute

Join us November 28th as we look back in time to the origins of the Ocean Institute, as current President Dan Stetson introduces former President Dr. Stan Cummings.



Parade of Lights Holiday Party
Friday, December 9th, 2011
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Celebrate the holidays with the Ocean Institute at our annual viewing party for the Dana Point Harbor Boat Parade of Lights. Bring the family for a bowl of hot chili and refreshments. Children can have their picture taken with Santa Claus, create holiday-themed crafts, and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Members are free; non-members are $10/adults; $5/child (age 3-12), or $25/Family 4-Pack. Reservations are required
Register Now>


Billabong Transparentsea Event

October 16th, 2011
The Billabong Transparentsea initiative is to have clean, clear, and protected oceans. Their group of surfers, artists, and activists are following the gray whale migration along the west coast of North America, raising awareness for the need to protect the majestic mammals and the world's ocean environments..
Learn More>


Enrichment Lecture Series

Summer, 2011, Ocean Institute volunteers, Dr. Milt and Ann McMenamin, have traveled the world on top cruise lines as professional lecturers, naturalists, and actors. Their careers have crossed many realms, including education, travel writing, and TV/radio production.
Click here for more information>


Artist by the Sea for Kids

We would like to extend a big thank you to our amazing artists: Karen Talbot, Drew Brophy, Barbara Hughston, Derek Sabori, and Shaun Tomson. Through their expertise and invaluable lessons, students created works of art (and even yummy snacks) while learning about the precious resources that the ocean provides.
Click here for more information>


Elements Tour

Elements Tour 2010

Sunday, August 8th
The Elements Tour 2010: Playgrounds Re-Imagined celebrated natural playgrounds of all kinds in order to inspire others to use them and to take an active role in protecting them for future generations.

The Ocean Institute was honored to be a stop on their adventure!


Life Could be a Dream

Life Could be a Dream

Friday, July 16th
Ocean Institute Members enjoyed an exclusive evening at the Laguna Playhouse complete with wine reception, the hit production, "Life Could be a Dream", and a meet-and-greet with the performers!

Thank you to the Laguna Playhouse for a wonderful evening!


Screening of DisneyNature's Oceans

Friday, May 7th
The Ocean Institute and Regency Theatres designated Friday, May 7th, for an Ocean Institute Members-Only event featuring the new Disney movie Oceans at their Rancho Niguel 8 location. Thanks to Wyland and the Wyland Foundation for their special appearance.

Click here to read the event reviews and click here to view pictures from the event.


Artist by the Sea

March 18, 2010
An Evening with Bob McKnight and Greg MacGillivray
SOLD OUT - No Tickets at the Door Availalble

Bob McKnight and Greg MacGillivray discussed their experiences filming the beginnings of surf culture and how surfing shaped their current careers.
Learn More>