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The Marine Mammal Scientist-in-Training Program is an engaging, immersive one-week educational course designed for high school students interested in pursuing a career in marine mammal biology and conservation. Through a combination of field and classroom-based experiences using cutting edge methods and technologies, students have the opportunity to work directly with world-leading marine mammal researchers. We are fortunate to collaborate with these local experts who give their time and expertise to this program solely to train and inspire the next generation of scientists and conservationists to appreciate and safeguard our precious marine resources.

Applications for the summer 2020 program will be available in January, 2020


Become a marine mammal scientist!

Work with experts in the field to learn how we study these amazing animals through an immersive summer 1-week course

Each student will have unique opportunities to work side-by-side with expert scientists to study seals, sea lions, whales, and dolphins here in Monterey Bay. Each participant will help collect data to document animal distribution, feeding and behavioral patterns, underwater sound, and gain hands-on experience using specialized marine research technology. 

Students practicing their photo-identification techniques at Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey.

Students practicing their photo-identification techniques at Hopkins Marine Station in Monterey.

Students will participate in a variety of activities, including tracking humpback whales or other marine mammals in Monterey Bay by boat to learn about how these massive animals make a living, visiting UCSC’s Long Marine Laboratory to work with captive dolphins and seals, hiking Año Nuevo State Park beach trails to learn about the natural history of northern elephant seals, and kayaking in Elkhorn Slough to collect underwater sound recordings of different marine organisms in the marine soundscape. Each field experience will be supported and enhanced by a near-college-level scientific curriculum of lectures and labs about Monterey Bay marine ecosystems, with an emphasis on marine mammals. The curriculum includes an interdisciplinary approach that combines marine science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a cohesive lesson plan that enables students to gain skills that have real-world implications for the study of marine mammal science and conservation.


Explore the Marine Mammals of Monterey Bay

Learn about the natural history of whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions right here in our own backyard!

Marine education specialists will lead the course with extensive direct involvement from leading marine researchers from Hopkins Marine Station (Stanford University), the University of California Santa Cruz, and Moss Landing Marine Laboratory.

A marine mammal science camp graduate will have:

  • Fun and exciting stories to tell their friends and families about a one-of-a-kind experience

  • Received a certificate of completion signed by active researchers noting each student's accomplishments

  • Worked directly with marine mammals in the field to gain new skill sets related to becoming a marine mammal biologist

  • Participated in an in-depth variety of interactive, hands-on science learning and activities both in the classroom and field settings using state of the art research methods and technologies

  • A direct link and long-lasting relationship with local professors and researchers in the field

  • Group video and photos of their experience to share with friends/family


Camp Details

Classroom component: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center,35 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Field component: Long Marine Laboratory, Año Nuevo State Park, and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Age: High school students, ages 14-18
Fee: $1,100/week

**This covers approximately 2/3rd of the actual program costs. Additional reductions in student fees are available for students from lower-income families. Please reference whether you would like to be considered for financial aid in your application.

Registration limited to 12 campers a week
Staff to camper ratio is at least 1:6

Time: 9:00am - 4:00pm, daily (except for whale research day 7:00-3:00) (Monday-Friday)

Application procedure: Applications for the summer of 2020 will be available in January of 2020. Questions? Please call (510) 541-1066. If you wish to be considered for financial support, please make a reference to this in your application.

We expect the class to fill quickly, but will make our best effort to place students in the classes of their choice. Thank you for applying to the Marine Mammal Scientist-in-Training Program!

MMST students observe the behavior of humpback whales in Monterey Bay

MMST students observe the behavior of humpback whales in Monterey Bay