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The Coastal Discovery Center is a joint venture between Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and California State Parks. Staffed by knowledgeable docents, the Center offers interactive exhibits and education programs which celebrate the connection between land and sea, highlighting the cultural and natural history of this area.

Exhibits are the heart of any interpretive facility. The Coastal Discovery Center uses interactive video kiosks, film and touchable exhibits to engage the visitor.

Exhibit–themed programs are offered to the public and school groups in the form of scavenger hunts, wildlife viewing adventure packs, Jr Ranger Guides and formal lesson plans. To learn more, visit this page.

Coastal Discovery Center Exhibits

History of San Simeon Bay

image of whaling in sam simeon coveDid you know that a shore whaling station existed in San Simeon Bay in the late 1800s? In this interactive touch screen exhibit, learn more about the fascinating history of San Simeon Bay, from the Native Americans who lived in his area 10,000 years ago to the Hearst era.

Wildlife of San Simeon

People come from all over the world to view the incredible wildlife that live along the shores between Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and CA State Parks. The Sanctuary waters are a highway for migrating marine mammals and seabirds, and our rocky shores are rich with sea creatures that live between the tides.

picture of the interdidal exibit at coastal discovery centerVisitors are drawn to a beautifully re-created rocky tidepool surrounded by a mural that depicts the seabirds and animals typically seen in San Simeon. Designed as a discovery area for small children, visitors are challenged to find the 14 button-activated messages on the tidepool recorded by local elementary school students.

Seabirds depend on offshore cliffs and islands for breeding and raising their young, like the two Pigeon guillemots in this wildlife mural. The Sanctuary and the Seabird Protection Network work together to enhance the awareness and protection of nesting seabirds.

The largest northern elephant seal rookery in mainland US can be seen just 4.5 miles north of the Coastal Discovery Center! Elephant seals spend most of their life at sea, but do come to shore twice a year to molt, rest, mate and/or pup. See if you can separate the calls of males, females and pups as you listen to the sounds of a crowded winter beach during mating and pupping season.

picture of delta sub exhibitOcean Exploration – Delta Sub

The waters of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary contain fascinating deep sea habitats such as that found on the extinct Davidson volcano. The Sanctuary also has 1,276 reported shipwrecks, one of which was torpedoed by a Japanese sub right off of Cambria! In this exhibit, learn about the Davidson Seamount and nearby shipwrecks, and the technology used to discover them!

Ocean Exploration – Plankton

Come discover the organisms that power the ocean food chain and are responsible for 50% of the world's oxygen. Make your own microscope slide and view the amazing life that lives in a drop of seawater, and learn to identify the organisms that cause red tide.

Watersheds – From the Mountains to the Sea

Everyone lives in a watershed, and all watersheds flow to the ocean. Keeping watersheds healthy is important for fish such as Steelhead trout found in local rivers and streams. Learn about the life cycle of these amazing animals from this lively rainbow trout exhibit!

Protecting Land and Sea

California State Parks and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary work together to protect our natural and cultural resources, like those displayed in these exhibits, through education, research and enforcement. These agencies also work with local communities to balance wildlife protection with human recreational activities.

picture of california state parke ranger and noaa law enforcement officer

Use these maps to identify the locations of your CA State Parks within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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