Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito

We attended a group tour and class at the Marine Mammal Center recently. Now, my kids don’t need a lot of help getting excited about anything to do with animals, but every kids in our group was enthusiastic about seals and sea lions by the end of our visit. Our group ranged in age from infant to around 8 years old. Our tour guide provided a lot on hands-on activities for the group along the way. Along the tour, the kids got to use the rescue boards and poles, and a carrying cage to stage a mock rescue of a plush Harbor Seal toy, they got to try out the equipment used in tube feeding young marine mammals, and at the end, they at last got to view some animals being fed from a quite viewing platform.

The class involved watching short video clips, learning to identify the different types of marine mammals that live in the local area, pretended to examine, collect samples from, and feed another plush seal, and ouch some preserved skins and skulls. The very smallest of our group, the 3-year-olds, and smaller generally lost interest in the ‘class’ structure and were soon climbing on chairs or otherwise not paying attention, but all the other children were very focused and interested.

Our tour guide was also our class teacher, and did a great job of getting the kids involved, and never once spoke down to them. She did a nice job of making sure most kids who wanted to vouluneer for a demonstration got picked to be involved at least once.

I was impressed that for a place that relies so heavily on volunteer labor, it was an extremely clean, well run center. They can really do amazing, and sometimes very difficult work on what must be very limited funds. While our group was young, our teacher guide explained that kids can become Marine Mammal Center volunteers at 14 years of age if that’s something they’re interested in.

You don’t need to be part of a group to visit the Marine Mammal Center. They are open 10 to 5 everyday except for major holidays, and admission is free (but I’m sure a donation would be greatly appreciated). If you visit their website, you can see what species are likely to be there at various times of year, learn how to schedule a tour, and a lot of other great information about local marine mammals.

If you decided to visit the Marine Mammal Center, make sure to carefully read the driving directions. It’s located far along a narrow, windy road that made me a little nervous at times that I wasn’t going the right way. The only other recommendation I have, is that if you can, leave yourself a little extra time to visit the nearby beaches. Sausalito is truly beautiful place, and worth hanging out and relaxing in if you get the chance.

No comments: