Exploring Morro Bay Estuary 1: June 11-15, 2018

Exploring Morro Bay Estuary 2: June 18 - 22, 2018

Exploring Morro Bay Estuary 3: June 25 - 29, 2018

Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Enrollment Fee: $280.00

Meet @ Morro Bay State Park Marina nest to Bayside Cafe

Age 1st grade and above beginning Fall 2018

Students will explore Morro Bay Estuary to gain an appreciation for the importance of estuaries, in sustaining marine life in the open ocean.  We’ll observe the behavior of local marine birds, summer migrants, and predatory birds that patrol the estuary.  During “Belly Biology” on the docks, we’ll study the many organisms that make their homes underneath.  A special activity planned for this week, is a Plankton Workshop/Lab at the Natural History Museum, led by Docent Karen Watts.  Karen Watts is the Docent offering  the Saturday Scientist Programs at the museum. During the lab, students will examine microscopic  plankton and other invertebrates using their own microscopes and learn to distinguish between zooplankton and phytoplankton. 

We’ll explore the salt marsh, mudflats, and rocky shores of the harbor mouth.  We’ll visit an oyster farm, and  kayak to the Sandspit to explore the sand spit dunes and beaches which offer miles of open shoreline for wandering, and scavenger hunts for sea hares sea slugs and other invertebrates. Students will observe the effects of tide cycles on life in the estuary, learn to read tide charts, and use them to predict high and low tides times.  Students will also get a great orientation on Harbor Patrol activities and get a chance to cruise the harbor on a Harbor Patrol boat. If scheduling permit, we will also participate in a Watershed Workshop at the Morro Bay National Estuary Program Office on the Embarcadero.

We'll cap off the week with ice cream at Sun n' Buns and lunch at Giovanni's

Estuary Ecology for Young Scientists 1: June 18-22, 2018

Estuary Ecology for Young Scientists 2: June 25-29, 2018

Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Enrollment Fee: $320.00

Meet @ Morro Bay State Park Marina nest to Bayside Cafe

 Age: 4th - 6th grade beginning Fall 2018

This week, Much of our exploration will be from kayaks, allowing us to observe marine life at water level.  we will examine and discuss the life cycles of various marine organisms, and students will develop a journal of marine organisms found during our explorations. We'll  spend time with the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol learning about rescue operations and general duties of the harbor patrol within the estuary. We'll get an overview of Morro Bay aquaculture at the Grassy Bar Oyster Farm, and we'll have a beach scavenger hunt to discover what wonders and blunders are found in the beach wrack. Students will participate in field research projects in the salt marsh and mudflats, participate in workshops related to estuary ecology. We'll finish the week on a whale watching cruise with Sub Sea Tours to search for Humpbacks and other marine mammals in Estero Bay.  Students will be expected to keep a field journal for sketching, data collection, and recording observations.

Gone Fishing! July 2, 3, 5, and 6 (4 days)

8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Enrollment Fee: $240.00

3rd Grade and above beginning Fall 2018

You don't need a sportfishing license to fish central coast piers, so we're going to visit several in San Luis Obispo County. San Simeon Village, Cayucos, Morro Bay, and Port San Luis.  We'll bring along sketch books for field notes and drawing.  We'll finish off the week with lunch @ Giovanni's in Morro Bay. 

Beaches and Dunes: July 9-13, 2018

Beaches and Dunes: August 6-10, 2018

Monday - Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm

Enrollment Fee: $280.00

Ages: 1st grade and above beginning Fall 2018

Meet @ Montana de Oro State Park, Morro Bay

Students will explore the dune ecosystems and beaches of the Sandspit Beach, and Hazard's Canyon in Montana de Oro, and Morro Bay, examining dune plants and observing wildlife. Scavenger hunts wil give students an opportunity to examine and collect "treasures" to share with the group for discussions about connections between the objects found. Students will also gather and examine beach debris to gain insight into how human behavior impacts ocean ecosystems.

Exploring California's Tectonic History July 9-13, 2018

Monday - -Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm.  Meet at Santa Rosa Park in San Luis Obispo

Ages 3rd grade and above beginning Fall 2018

Enrollment Fee: $320.00

Day 1:   Montana de Oro State Park is the only location on the California coast south of Monterey, where Shale formations can be seen up-close. This sedimentary rock, composed of silt, sand and the exoskeletons of diatoms, forms the wave cut marine terraces along the shores of the park. Shale forms the reefs around Hazard's Canyon, and the Coves along the bluff trails; a testament to their underwater origins, 

Day 2:     Carrizo Plain displays unique geological examples of tectonic activity along the San Andreas Fault, and is also home the amazing Soda Lake. 

Day 3 and 4:  Pinnacles National Park in the chaparral-covered Gabilan Mountains, east of central California's Salinas Valley, are the spectacular remains of an ancient volcanic field.  Millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement defined this volcanic formation which provides habitat to hundreds of native plant species (not including epiphytes, like lichen). There are 18 different species of trees and more than 50 species of shrubs. Wildflowers are pollinated by the park's 400 species of bees, a higher density of species per area than any other known place in the world. Five natural plant communities exist within the park, with its highly varied topography, soil types, and solar orientation.  Because of its’ long-term protected status, Pinnacles maintains a relatively high proportion of native plants compared to areas outside the park. In fact, chaparral vegetation at Pinnacles is a showcase example of ecosystems that existed up and down coastal California, prior to urban development and agricultural alteration. We'll explore Bear Gulch Caves and Reservoir on the first day, and camp overnight on the East Side, of the park. We'll explore the Balconies Caves and the Chaparral on the West side of the park on Day 2.  On the way home, we'll visit Mission San Antonio, near Jolon. It is a place of historical significance and houses examples of Salinin native culture.

Day 5:   We'll kayak to the Sandspit Dunes and explore the dune formations and the Estero Coast line.  We'll examine the ways that wind and waves continually reshape the dune systems. We'll finish off the week with an afternoon trolley ride and lunch on the Embarcadero.


Exploring Freshwater Ecosystems July 16-20, 2018

Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Enrollment Fee: $280.00

Meet @ Santa Rosa Park, Cuesta Canyon Park San Luis Obispo, Avila Bay


Age: 1st grade and above beginning Fall 2018

Students will explore various riparian ecosystems around the city of San Luis Obispo County to gain an appreciation for the critical creek systems that are part of the local watershed, some of which are vital steelhead trout habitats. In addition, campers will examine local plants that were useful to indigenous people in the area thousands of years ago. There will invertebrate scavenger hunts to locate various organisms that inhabit creek systems.

Freshwater Ecology for Young Scientists July 16-20, 2018

Mon - Fri 8:30am - 4:30pm

Enrollment Fee: $300.00

Meet @ Santa Rosa Park, Cuesta Park, Avila Beach 

Age: 4th grade and above beginning Fall 2018

This week's camp will be more research oriented than Freshwater Ecosystems, which is focused primarily on exploration. During this week students will keep a science journal to record data from water quality assessments on local creeks and lakes. They will document their discoveries of various creek organisms with field sketches and footnotes about observations, habitat, water temperature, and physical descriptions. We will visit county lakes to examine water quality and possible human impacts. Our water quality will focus on critical indicators such as pH, nitrogen (fertilizers), phosphates (detergents), dissolved oxygen, turbidity.

Marine Science Gumbo 2:  July 23-27, 2018  (4th and above grade beginning Fall 2018) 

Marine Science Gumbo 1:  July 23-27, 2018   (1st grade and above beginning Fall 2018)

Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Meet @ Morro Bay State Park Marina across from Morro Bay State Park Campground

Enrollment Fee: $320.00

We will explore the intertidal zones of Morro Bay, and Estero Bay, searching for life among the rocks.  We’ll have kayak scavenger hunts, looking for marine invertebrates under the docks and piers.   We’ll also explore the sandspit and dune systems around Estero Bay that offer great opportunities for rolling and tumbling in the sand. We will have hands on marine labs and activities designed to enhance student understanding of biological  interactions in marine ecosystems  We will also explore the human impact on marine ecosystems with a field study on plastic debris.  The upper division group will close out the week by going on a whale watching cruise to search for humpbacks and other marine mammals.  The lower division group will cap their week with a cruise around the bay with Subsea Tours.

Advanced Coastal Geology/Marine Science Gumbo:  July 30-August 4,2018 (6 days)

Monday - Saturday 8:30am - 4:30pm Except for Monterey Bay Excursion.

Age: 4th grade and above beginning Fall 2018

Enrollment fee: $320.00

Meet @ Santa Rosa Park, San Luis Obispo

Students will explore several fascinating geological formations along the Central Coast.  The San Simeon and Big Sur Coastline offers several amazing examples of amazing marine life and coastal geology, Students will have an opportunity to explore areas of this iconic section of California Coastline.  On Days 4, 5 and 6, We'll travel to Monterey Bay.  Well travel on Day 4, and spend the afternoon exploring Cannery Row and the Aquarium.  Well camp out @ Sunset Beach State Park, then, next morning, we'll kayak Elkhorn Slough in Moss landing, a 6 1/2 mile long inland waterway in the morning, then cruise up to Santa Cruz to visit the famous Boardwalk. Camp out @ Sunset State Beach, then go Whale Watch in Monterey Bay before returning home on August 4th.  This camp week is contingent upon the number of enrollments and timing. Bookings for whale watching must be made well in advance, 

***Parent volunteers as chaperones are both needed and Welcome! Volunteers will receive a discount on enrollment fees for their students

Beach Detectives 1: Left Behind and Washed Ashore    August 6-10, 2018

Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 4;30 pm

Enrollment Fee: $280.00

Meeting @ Morro Bay State Park Marina and Santa Rosa Park

Ages  4th grade and above  beginning Fall 2018

One of the major components of marine debris are the tons of plastic trash that either washes or is thrown into the world's oceans. The "First Flush" after major storms, washes urban waste into the oceans, and debris is routinely tossed overboard from cargo ships, luxury liners, and fishing vessels.  Local beaches after weekends and holidays, are blanketed in trash.  

There are currently floating masses of plastic called "gyres"  in the North Pacific covering an area larger than the state of Texas, and several feet deep.   Our society is ever more reliant on plastics for everything we use, because of its light weight its durability, and its production cost. These pluses are also its biggest negatives. Plastics aren't biodegradable, but are subject to photodegradation, which simply breaks them into smaller pieces called microplastics., plastic production requires fossil fuels, and only about 10% of plastic trash in the United States, gets recycled. Microplastics are consumed as food by a host of marine organisms including plankton.  It is critical that young environmental stewards come to understand the impact of human lifestyles and behaviors and how these might contribute the plastic pollution.

During this week, we will be conducting beach transects along several local beaches, that experience varying levels of human activity. We will conduct surveys of the type and variety ( convenience store, fast food, grocer) of trash found on the beaches left by visitors. In addition we will be conducting surveys of the beach sand along the high tide line (the wrack) for smaller plastic debris washed ashore. We will compile and analyze the data to see if we can draw any inferences about the impact of plastics in marine ecosystems. Our research activity is adopted from the University of Florida's Sea Grant Program and NOAA's Marine Sanctuary Debris Monitoring Guideline.