Welcome Marine Science Explorers

April 17 - May 24, 2017

The goal of the Marine Science Explorer Program is to provide students with an exceptional learning environment, to help students understand and appreciate the marine ecosystem in the Gulf of Alaska, and inspire interest in Marine Science.


During the five-hour cruise, we explore beyond the surface of the water. Students are introduced to sampling techniques and lab activities as they investigate seawater and plankton. Students observe marine mammals and seabirds in their natural habitat and consider their adaptations. In this living laboratory, students are encouraged to examine how these pieces fit together into an ecosystem concept

One instructor staffs each thirty-minute station. We ask that each group be accompanied by a teacher or chaperone.

Students will:

  • Investigate the fjord and estuary ecosystem in Resurrection Bay.
  • Collect seawater, then use thermometers and hydrometers to determine the salinity of the sample.
  • Use a Secchi disk to determine the turbidity of the water.
  • Use a plankton net to collect phytoplankton and zooplankton for examination under microscopes.
  • Observe interaction of Southcentral Alaska’s intertidal organisms in a saltwater aquarium.
  • Examine mounts of Alaskan seabirds and discuss marine mammal and seabird adaptations to the subarctic marine environment.
  • Observe mammals and seabirds in their natural habitat, and view the bustling spring activity at Cape Resurrection!

Information and Materials Presented

Seawater Analysis — The physical properties of seawater determine much of the ocean’s dynamics: currents, stratification, and the distribution of ocean life. 

Students will collect seawater, measure density and temperature to determine salinity, and use a Secchi disk to measure turbidity. Students will record their results on a data sheet.

Plankton Analysis — A cup of seawater is quite ordinary viewed by the naked eye. A few drops set up under a microscope reveal a multifaceted population of plants and animals. Just because they escape our unaided eye, we should not underestimate their importance in sustaining life as we know it in the ocean.

Students will use a plankton net to collect samples for microscope viewing. Twelve microscopes on board assure everyone an opportunity for observations. Students will be asked to draw plankton they observe and to estimate size and concentration. An identification chart of common plankton will be available; however the emphasis will be on observation, not identification.

Seabird and Marine Mammal Adaptations — Conditions in the North Pacific, particularly in the Gulf of Alaska, support an abundance of plankton, which in turn supports a wide variety of sea life. The Gulf of Alaska is home to over 73 species of seabirds. As many as twelve different species of marine mammals can be viewed in Resurrection Bay.

Students will discuss the adaptations of these animals to a marine environment and then compare and contrast those adaptations. Horned puffins and humpbacks have more in common than you think! Students will be aided in their investigations by bird study skins and mammal skulls and pelts. Observations of the bird and mammals throughout the trip will be recorded on the wildlife checklists provided for each student.

Fjord Ecosystem — An ecosystem is a collection of all the living and non-living things found in a given area, in our case Resurrection Bay. How do the organisms within this area relate to one another?  How do the organisms that live here interact with the non-living parts of the environment?

We will explore the roles of producers, consumers and decomposers by observing the controlled environment of the aquarium and constructing a food web of Resurrection Bay. The scope of ecology concepts introduced and discussed in this section will be dependent on the background of the group. The emphasis for all groups will be on the interdependency among the living organisms and non-living factors in an ecosystem.


Length of Trip: 5 hours
Price: $50.00/person, plus the City of Seward port fee (currently $3.50/person).
Max. participants:  80 (will be divided into 4 groups)
Recommended ages:  Grades 3 through 12
Departure Information:  10:00 am–3:00 pm


  • Bring a brownbag lunch
  • Dress warmly!
  • Provide us with a complete name list of everyone that will be on board, for the US Coast Guard


Contact us by phone or by email, your choice.

call the marine science explorer desk: 1-877-476-8775


2017 Season: March 24September 30

Book Online or…Call Us Now 1-877-777-4051