At Sea Adventures


Our cruises are dedicated to science-based environmental education, providing your family the opportunity to truly become a scientist for the day. You will be immersed in the ocean ecosystem, captivated by local marine life, and learn fascinating facts about our ocean.


About the Sea Explorer

The 65-foot Research Vessel Sea Explorer is an educational floating lab equipped with underwater cameras, an acoustic hydrophone, onboard computers, video microscopes, touch tanks, and a viewing aquarium. A bowsprit over the water provides any passenger with a breathtaking view of dolphins, whales, and sea lions.

Research conducted aboard the vessel is integrated into our program curriculum. There is not a more hands-on and poignant learning opportunity for students than to participate in authentic statewide research collaborations such as the projects we have with the California Department of Public Health and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

These research collaborations include:

The California Current Ecosystem Long Term Ecological Research (CCE LTER) is investigating the California Current coastal pelagic ecosystem, with particular attention to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and El Niño in altering the structure and dynamics of the pelagic ecosystem.  The Ocean Institute Chlorophyll / Temperature Time Series Project is a unique partnership between CCE LTER and the Ocean Institute designed to extend the CCE outreach program and expand the types of coastal temperature and chlorophyll time series collections for site science. This particular project is a cooperative effort engaging trained staff from Ocean Institute, CCE scientists and research assistants, outreach coordinators, information managers, program analysts and hundreds of K – 12 students. Students and trained staff from Ocean Institute participate in active scientific field research aboard the Sea Explorer. During this floating lab project, students monitor temperature, concentrations of chlorophyll within the phytoplankton community. The objective is to help characterize the chemical, physical, and biological processes influencing the communities of the California Current Ecosystem . These long-term measurements help scientists understand the processes governing ecosytem variations. 

Ocean Institute also works with the California Department of Public Health in monitoring blooms of plankton that might be dangerous to human populations. Our marine educators deploy a 120 micron horizontal plankton tow twice a month and document the time, date, latitude, longitude, water temp, and salinity. This info and the sample of plankton are mailed to the CDH for analysis and monitoring of marine biotoxins. Which may affect local shellfish populations. Certain plankton produce a biotoxin that can also be fatal to birds and sea lions if ingested in large concentrations.