The laboratory includes a pilot reverse osmosis water treatment plant that takes sea water and converts it for fresh water irrigation and other purposes at the UC Campus and even for the city and county of Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz country receives most of its fresh water from a system of creeks and streams that lead to Loch Lommond reservoir in the Santa Cruz mountains. With the growth of new residential neighborhoods, Santa Cruz County now exceeds its water supply during drought years, and in the future it will grow to exceed its supply even during non-drought years. Thus, limited in its water access, the city and county of Santa Cruz, in conjunction with UC Santa Cruz, a pilot program of desalination of sea water. A tour of this plant is possible as part of the Seymour Marine Discovery docent tour.
Free to those willing to walk a bit is wonderful restored landscaping around the UC Santa Cruz Marine Lab Facilities. The California seacoast has been plagued by imported "ice plant" and other invasive plant species, and these have tended to reduce the beauty of the natural landscape overall. However, with effort, students and volunteers are working to restore a section here to its original look. The images here also show that a section of seacoast here is also being restored to it's original habitat. In one image, broken concrete, formerly the rip rap used as a sea wall, remains scattered along the coast. In the past, it was believed that rip rap would reduce erosion along sandstone cliffs when in fact the broken concrete pieces become an aggregate rubble for increased wear of the cliffs during heavy storm surges.
University of California at Santa Cruz operates the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, a public education facility that is part of the Joseph M. Long Marine Laboratory. It's located west of town just off highway 1. There are a couple of 87 foot whale skeletons near the main building. There are 3 exhibit halls and 14 aquaria within two separate pods. There are live exhibits with pumped sea water for live touching of marine life. This is sort of a less crowded and more science oriented version of the Monterey Bay Aquarium on the opposite side of the bay. However, the discovery center is typically closed on national holidays, and has a slightly reduced number of hours on Sundays. It's closed Mondays, but otherwise is open from Tues through Sat 10am to 5pm. There are also lab wide tours several times a day on a first come first serve basis. Admission is $6- for adults, $4- for students, seniors, and children under 16 years old. See link below for more details.
This is located on the very tip of West Cliff Drive. This is a Marine Center which is great for kids because of the aquarium inside and the hands on exhibits. Also you learn how oceanagraphers conduct studies.