Immerse yourself in Santa Barbara's new marine center

Susan Lendroth,  – December 12, 2005

Dive beneath the waves without ever leaving the dock at the newSanta Barbara Museum of Natural History Ty Warner Sea Center, onthe landmark Stearns Wharf. Test seawater, practice dolphin-speak,and get a quick tutorial on coastal neighbors.

The center’s large indoor tidepool draws its water from directlyunderneath the pier, bathing sea stars, crabs, and sea anemones inthe same salt water they’d find in rocky outcroppings along theshore. Underwater windows ― and a tunnel for children tocrawl through ― add a fish-eye perspective.

Budding scientists can analyze seawater samples drawn up on longropes from below the pier or hang around at touch stations filledwith slippery critters such as sea cucumbers. But our favoriteinteractive exhibit is the Marine Mammal Karaoke station, whichgives a quick, microphone-heavy tutorial in the undersea languagesof whales and dolphins ― no doubt you’ll hear yawningimitations of “I love you” in orca all the way home.

INFO: Santa Barbara Museum ofNatural History Ty Warner Sea Center ($7, $6 ages 13-17, $4ages 2-12; 211 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara; 805/962-2526)

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