About the Ocean Institute
The Ocean Institute is nationally known for its award winning,
hands-on marine science, environmental education and maritime
history programs. Students, families and the general public
become tall ship sailors, research scientists, oceanographers,
and explorers while immersed in Ocean Institute programs.
Ocean Institute Mission
Using the ocean as our classroom, we inspire children to learn.
Brief History of the Ocean Institute
The Ocean Institute, founded in 1977 as the Orange County Marine
Institute, is a community-based 501 © (3) organization that
educates students and public visitors through over 60 marine
science and maritime history programs. Located on 2.4 acres in
the Dana Point Harbor, adjacent to a Marine Conservation Area,
the site is ideal for hands-on learning about the sea.
The Institute grew steadily from inception to the point that the
facilities were at 100% capacity. In 1999, the Board of Directors
voted to expand, and initiated a capital fundraising campaign for
the design and construction of new facilities. Construction of
the six building, 33,800 sq. ft. campus began in early 2001. It
took 18 months to build at a cost of $16.5 million, all
generously donated by numerous friends from throughout the
country. The capstone occasion came in October 2002 when the new
Ocean Education Center opened for the people of Southern
California and beyond.
Ocean Education Center – comprised of the
Ecology Learning Center, Packard At Sea Learning Center, Folino
Center for Technology and Communications, and Surfscience
Learning Center; teaching stations include marine life tanks,
wet-tables with video-microscopes, a wave tank, a children’s
theater, a ROV testing tank, and a sleeping deck with sweeping
Student and Teacher Services Building – the
administrative center also houses the entry to Headlands and
Beyond: A hands on exploration center that is now open to the
public on weekdays and weekends! Spot live animals in our kelp
forest, operate touchscreen technology to delve into the deep
ocean, engage in experiments, and investigate our tide pool play
Maritime Center – a hands-on teaching facility
built for exploration of maritime history.
Maddie James Seaside Learning Center – our
spectacular “on the water” facility featuring a 300’ Ocean
Science Landing with fascinating science and maritime learning
stations and vessel moorings.
R/V Sea Explorer – a 65-ft. marine
science research vessel with state-of-the-art oceanography
equipment where students become oceanographers for a day.
Spirit of Dana Point – a 118-ft.
topsail schooner used for living history and at-sea maritime
Pilgrim – a 130-ft. historic tall ship
made famous by Richard Henry Dana in his book Two Years
Before The Mast. Students live as sailors in the 1830s
during dockside programs that bring history to life.
Lazy-W Ranch – a residential camp in the
Cleveland National Forest, where students spend their days and
nights experiencing California history or investigating different
Ocean in Motion van – a mobile
laboratory for outreach to special needs and underserved
Marine Life Conservation Area – a natural
intertidal ecosystem of eight acres adjacent to our site.
Chambers Gallery Book and Gift Store – carrying
the latest educational materials and ocean-themed items with
proceeds benefiting Ocean Institute programs.
Samueli Lecture Hall and Conference Center – a
unique setting for events with state-of-the-art audio/visual
equipment. The center is also used for a variety of educational
Annual Students Served: 60,000
Annual Public Served: 50,000
Total Guests Served: 110,000
Staff: 115 (full and part-time)
Photo / Video Guidelines
Photo and video consent
By entering, you consent to your voice and photography or video
of you, including accompanying children, to be used without
compensation in any and all media and marketing materials, and
you release Ocean Institute from any liability of usage.
Taking photos or video for editorial purposes
Anyone can take photos and video for their personal use only.
Media should contact the Marketing department in advance to
arrange to shoot photos and videos that will be used with
articles or media that include Ocean Institute.
Taking photos or video for commercial purposes
Taking photos or video for commercial purposes, including for
stock images, commercial products and other commercial purposes
is prohibited without prior authorization from the Marketing
department. If permission is granted, payment of location fee may
be involved, depending on the scope of the project.
We consider each location request on an individual basis, and
fees may be charged for shooting. Requests can be accommodated
only if they do not conflict with scheduled events.
- Dana Point Chamber of Commerce – Business of the Year 2008
- Orange County Department of Education – Outstanding
Contributions in Education Award
- U. S. Sailing – National Outstanding Community Sailing
- 2005 National Science Foundation Award
- 2003 National Science Foundation Award
- Inaugural Walter Cronkite Award, National Maritime Historical
- Program of the Year, American Sail Training Association
- Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation Grant Recipient
- Ocean Institute Volunteers, 603
- Board of Directors, 22
- Sand Dollar Guild, 50
- Ocean Institute Members, 1,000