Guadalupe Dunes Exhibits
and Ecosystem Educational Unit
your head in the Dunes Center on Main Street in Guadalupe and you'll
likely find children looking at dragonflies or snakeskins under
microscopes. Children and adults can be found sitting at computers,
learning about reptiles, amphibians, arthropods, and birds of the
dunes. Ask any one of the local participants, and they can point
out their individual tile they painted that is a part of a large
mural of the dunes, designed by artist John Iwerks.
The Dunes Center is a hands-on educational center for the Guadalupe
Dunes. The Guadalupe Dunes encompasses 6,000 acres of sand dunes
seaward from the Santa Maria River floodplain; this dunes complex
runs for 18 miles along the coast located in northern Santa Barbara
County and southern San Luis Obispo County.
The Dunes Center focuses on the Guadalupe Dunes' rich cultural,
natural, and recreational resources. The Center's computer programs,
videos, slide shows, displays, and puppet theater depict the rich
natural and cultural history of the dunes: the Chumash who first
roamed the dunes; the 1923 film The Ten Commandments, which was
filmed at the dunes complex; and the natural dunes flora and fauna.
Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum's
Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum's SEA IT! marine science exhibit
gives some Santa Maria children their first glimpse into ocean life.
The S.S. Discovery, a replica of a large research vessel, dominates
the popular museum exhibit. Children can climb onto the deck of
the boat, looking into microscopes with slides of marine organisms
or enjoy interactive computer programs, such as a sea exploration.
Next to the S.S. Discovery is a touch tank that gives the appearance
of an actual tide pool, housing various live marine creatures for
children to gently hold and observe.
Children can climb into the interior of the research vessel and
enter a tunnel. As the children move through the tunnel, they pass
through the various tidal zones, giving children the experience
of the undersea world off our coast. Starting with the sandy surf
zone, artificial marine plants and animals and murals appropriate
for each zone decorate the sides and floor of the tunnel. Halfway
through, the tunnel opens into the kelp forest section, which has
strands of 12-foot kelp extending up to the tunnel roof. Lighting
and sound throughout the tunnel simulates the actual marine environment.
The museum offers an exciting way for children to learn about the
marine environment and, in turn, learn to respect and take care
of their local coastal resources.
Santa Maria Valley Beautiful Earth Week
from around Santa Maria, Orcutt, and Guadalupe enjoyed a weeklong
event in April of 1998 that honored the earth. Ending on Earth Day,
the event increased awareness about the earth's natural resources,
including local coastal resources at Guadalupe Dunes.
Wearing green ribbons, school children and community leaders formed
a Green Ribbon walk to City Hall where speeches about the need to
protect the coastal environment were heard. Two hundred people played
a game on a gigantic map of the world. As the human population grew
on the map, the players were challenged with finding sustainable
solutions to global environmental problems, such as water availability,
pollution, wildlife preservation, and increasing demands on coastal
This weeklong event showed that learning important messages can
Marineros marine education program makes it more fun to be a fifth-grader
in Santa Barbara. The elementary students heading out to a field
trip to Anacapa Island usually encounter whales and dolphins. The
students learn how these big animals feed themselves and how they
keep warm in the cold ocean.
You'll often find these students at low tide on a local beach,
searching in tidepools for sea anemones, crabs, and sea stars or
digging in the sand, looking for sand-dwelling creatures, such as
beach hoppers, isopods, and sand crabs. A pod of Los Marineros students
may be gathered at the Sea Center, observing sea hares and urchins.
All of these fun excursions focus on the student observing and learning
first-hand about the diverse and amazing habitats and species found
in the ocean.
The students are provided with marine science kits and audio-visuals
to use in their classrooms. The Los Marineros Curriculum Guide offers
information and lessons for upper elementary-level students on a
wide range of general oceanographic and marine topics. With the
combination of the curriculum and the field trips to reinforce the
concepts learned in the classroom, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural
History hopes to develop within each child an understanding and
appreciation of the local marine life and an commitment to its preservation.
Snowy Plover Video
at the Ocean's Edge provides extraordinary and rare footage of the
natural history of two of California's most threatened coastal birds,
the western snowy plover and the California least tern. The narrator
for the 20-minute video explains that snowy plovers use to inhabit
the coast from southern Washington to northern Baja, Mexico. Today,
only eight major breeding areas remain; the eight isolated areas
are all located along the central California coast. Northern Santa
Barbara County is home to 20% of the nesting snowy plovers.
The narrator explains that, along with natural predators, various
human activities have resulted in the accelerated plover's population
decline. The spring and summer months, when the beaches are most
used by people, overlap with the nesting season for the plover.
Beautiful close-up images of speckled, sandy-colored plover chicks,
nestling in low depressions on sandy beaches, visually show the
viewer how the tiny chicks blend in with its natural environment.
Unfortunately, off-road-vehicles, horseback riders, people walking
on the beach with unleashed dogs, and litter on the beach can impact
the plover and least tern. This exceptional video informs people
about the birds' lives and natural habitats and the need to be aware
of these birds while sharing the beaches.
one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the
rest of the world.
~ John Muir