Seaside Beach Discovery Program:
For 23 years the Seaside Beach Discovery Program has invited summer visitors to learn and talk about the natural world they have come to explore.
The program is free on the beach in front of the Seaside Aquarium during summer weekends. Young and old alike are delighted with the personal attention, hands-on displays, old photos and great discussions that occur.
Each morning staff record the wind speed, air and ocean temperature, salinity and tide data. They collect samples of plankton and tiny critters along the ocean’s edge, noting anything unusual. Wide-ranging discussions, a steady flow of information, questions and pondering keep displays fresh and evolving.
Several displays are interactive. A wave table springboards talks about various kinds of waves, sand transport, seasonal changes and tsunamis. Microscopes show diverse creatures, including plant and animal plankton, resulting in conversations that help explain earth’s dependence on these huge varieties of tiny creatures. Giant magnets and a sand drop tube offer information about our local sand. There are also sands from around the world. This display changes people’s notion of what sand actually is and how ocean creatures choose their beach, depending on the available topography.
Historical photos help folks compare humans and geological change over time. Shells and other tideline discoveries show that changing geology and the ever-changing ocean can lead to important changes for people, plants and animals. One popular display is a signpost noting that people are not our only tourists. Many of these swimming or flying animals make enormous roundtrip journeys every year.
Instruments such as tide tables, wind gauges, thermometers and a salinity gauge compare daily (sometimes hourly) changes to a seemingly static beach. This leads to discussions about beach safely, gravity, the moon and tides, sand movement, upwelling, rip currents and the food chain. All of this helps folks understand the interconnectivity of sand, water, air, the plants and animals, the earth and the moon—and humans’ relationships to that process.
Some visitors stop for just a few minutes; others stay much longer. Nearly every day we hear from folks who have visited in prior years, some whom even plan their annual vacations around our summer schedule.
The Discovery Program runs every Saturday in July and August from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The program is weather dependent, so please check with us before heading down to the beach.