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Ocean Heroes After School Science Program

Ocean Heroes is an after school science program for children ages 8-12 at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Monthly activities correspond with different and intriguing marine science and conservation themes designed to educate, build awareness, and interest about our ocean planet.

Animal at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Kids engage in hands-on labs, interact with STEM professionals and enjoy offsite excursions! Monthly speakers will include PMMC marine mammal care personnel, scientists from the National Marine Mammal Foundation, wetlands and salt marsh experts, youth conservationists and more!

2019-2020 Ocean Heroes Curriculum

Cute sea lion in Laguna Beach

Throughout the program, newly appointed ocean stewards will learn an incredible array of information, including:
PMMC to the rescue! They will learn about the common marine mammal patients they care for at the hospital. Ocean Heroes take a tour of their critical care area with PMMC’s own Animal Care Coordinator.

Learning about Animal Care

They will explore the process their animal care team goes through to rescue marine mammals and how we can help protect these animals in the wild. Hear exciting stories of the wildest rescues our team has taken on! After observing marine mammal patients, they will explore our artistic side by drawing, and creating songs about seals/sea lions.

Learning about our Ocean

70 percent of our planet is covered with water. Water is one of the main building blocks of life. How do marine mammals obtain freshwater when they live in a marine desert that they cannot drink? They will investigate marine mammal adaptations for living in the ocean. They will also examine freshwater macroinvertebrates and marine plankton species under a microscope and discuss how the presence of different species can be used to determine the health of the environment.

Learning about Salt Marshes

Salt Marshes are teaming with life! They will discover why salt marshes are important for marine mammals, as nurseries for the food marine mammals eat, their function as natural filters, and how they serve as protective barriers to harmful storm surges.

A guest presenter will come and lead a chat about the unique wildlife species that call these beautiful habitats home. We will also create a hands salt marsh themed craft to take home.

Marine Mammal Rehabilitation

Educating kids about sea life

Often when their marine mammal patients first come in to the hospital they are underweight, and dehydrated. They will learn how our animal care team cares for these patients while talking with one of PMMC’s Animal Care Supervisors.

They will have the chance to hear some marine mammal rehabilitation stories and see videos of how we nurse sick animals back to health. Afterward, they will test their new found skills with a “mock” tube feeding activity. They will then work in small groups to complete a marine mammal themed scavenger hunt.

Learning about How Animals Communicate

Sea lions taking a bath

Most marine mammals rely upon sound for communication, foraging, navigation and predator avoidance. Scientists at the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) explore the sounds marine mammals make, the sounds they hear, and the effect of human-made sound has on them.

The NMMF has developed instrumentation that tests the hearing of stranded wild marine mammals. NMMF personnel will join Ocean Heroes and show how they record and then ‘view’ the sounds marine mammals produce on a spectrogram. Students will record their own voices and see how they differ from the signature whistles of dolphins!

Ocean Health Begins at home

Students learning at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Discover how their everyday activities impact the ocean. They will chat with a youth conservation activist to learn about the project they are currently working on and how we can help. Ocean Heroes will work in small groups to develop conservation message pages which will be compiled into a conservation action booklet they can take home with them at the end of the program.

The National Marine Mammal Foundation joins Ocean Heroes again to share their marine mammal conservation efforts, with endangered and threatened species such as bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, California Sea Lions, and the critically endangered Vaquita porpoise.

Children will discover the exciting field of marine mammal biology, ecology, and marine mammal research. Most importantly, kids will engage with real STEM professionals in Marine Mammal Science and learn what THEY can do to help!

May Offsite Excursions

In May, they take offsite excursions to explore the wonders of the ocean! Ocean Heroes will have the chance to participate in a free optional field trip to the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy where we will have the chance to tour the interpretive center and the beautiful Magnolia Marsh.

Ocean Heroes will have the opportunity to attend a whale watching trip and use knowledge gained throughout the program to aid in PMMC’s citizen science (additional fees apply)


Feeding sea lions at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center

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