When tidepooling along the beach here on the Central Coast, I admittedly like to poke at the marine life. But what exactly am I pestering? Enter the Avila Beach Sea Life Center to shed a little light on my adventures in aquatic biology. Located just south of San Luis Obispo, the Center allows visitors to learn about one of the most fascinating aquatic ecosystems in California. Open to the general pubic and for schools and birthday parties, the aquarium is a must for anyone interested in science and nature.
For students, the Floating Lab takes participants out onto the open sea where they trawl for plankton, perform sea water chemistry, dissect squid, and observe marine birds and mammals in their natural habitats. The facility-based Discovery Lab course lets teachers select from a diverse curriculum of fun games, lectures, animal encounters, and interactive activities that teach about the fascinating inhabitants of the Pacific, the importance of a healthy environment, and how we as humans can care for our watery neighbors.
The Avila Sea Life Center is the only public marine education facility between Lompoc and Monterey. Adult admission is $3, students/seniors $2. Come take a stroll along the beach, and discover another universe not far from home! (For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org).
Armed with knowledge and looking for adventure? Test your smarts and observation skills with some great ocean-side hikes:
– Montana De Oro: This state park in Los Osos offers a number of fantastic bluff and beach trails that provide wonderful views of the ocean, tidepooling, and bird-watching. If you are lucky, you may even spot a sea otter, sea lion, or whale during their migration season.
– San Simeon: Famous for its colony of breeding elephant seals, park and walk several feet to take a gander at one of the ocean’s most impressive marine mammals. However, be careful not to get too close to the hulking, snorting masses of blubber! Males are known to be pretty aggressive and are a lot faster than they appear.
– Pismo/Oceano Dunes: Check out one of the last refuges for the endangered Snowy Plover as well as a number of other ocean and estuary birds. Take care not to get run over by drivers as the Dunes are one of the last public beaches in California to allow vehicles.
– Pirate’s Cove: If you are an immodest enough soul to endure a little nudity on this clothing-optional beach located slightly south of Port San Luis, you are almost certain to encounter harbor seals in this sunny, quiet stretch of sand and sea.