Last Tuesday I attended a tour at Seymour Marine Discovery Center ( which was set up by the Volunteer Coordinator at Elkhorn Slough Reserve to celebrate all of the volunteers. Elkhorn Slough has many of these events throughout the year to show appreciation for their volunteers as well as to have the volunteers hang out and get to meet each other. The last time I was there was during my college years for an Eco-Physiology class. It is located in Santa Cruz right on the edge of the ocean and shares space with UC Santa Cruz’s marine biology department as it is part of University.


During my tour I got to see the natural wetlands and the species of plants and birds that live there. I also got to touch a Swell Shark while it was sleeping, I saw the center’s three research dolphins during their training, the huge blue whale skeleton, and other ocean critters. My favorite was learning about the Swell Sharks and their teeth-like skin called denticles. Denticles are found in all sharks and rays and point towards the tail; therefore, as I touched the shark from the head to tail direction it was soft and once I changed direction from tail to head, the skin felt like sandpaper.  The name Swell Shark was given to them because they swell up to double their body size by swallowing water as a defense mechanism to intimidate other predators.


I had an amazing time learning about the ocean and plant and bird communities that live near the ocean. It brought me back to the fun fieldtrips I had in school.


Blue Whale skeleton that washed on shore in Fiddler’s Cove in 1979.

Image taken from Swell Shark

Top Left: Natural Wetland

Top Middle: Primrose

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