The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, briefly known as the Ty Warner Sea Center, is a museum owned and operated by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and is located on Santa Barbara's Stearns Wharf. The Sea Center focuses on the marine life and the related conservation of the Santa Barbara Channel.
The Sea Center, first opened in 1986, was forced to close almost immediately owing to a fire under the Stearns Wharf pier on which it sits, and opened again a year later after repairs and more exhibits were added. Among the highlights of the original museum, and which still exist today, are a life-size model of a gray whale and her calf, aquaria, and static exhibits about marine life and ocean ecology. After many successful years, an opportunity became available to expand, adding building space, larger touch tanks, and new exhibits. The Center reopened in 2005 at a cost of $6.5 million. The expanded building's major donor at that time was businessman Ty Warner, also a local resident. Following a rebranding of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in 2016, the Sea Center returned to its original name.
|Monday||10:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|Tuesday||10:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|Wednesday||10:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|Thursday||10:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|Friday||10:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|Saturday||10:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|Sunday||10:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
C. Kassity | Apr 10, 2017
Great little place on Stearn's Wharf. Perfect for children and adults. Friendly staff. Not very big but lots of fun, interactive things to do and a lot to learn. Those with sensitivities to smell will be cautioned to the plasticine dolphin upstairs. The odor is not too strong but definitely present. I wasn't bothered by it but others may be. Great views of the ocean and shore from upstairs.
Kaylene Black | Aug 30, 2017
Small but perfect for those with small children as you can see everything, it's not overwhelming. The staff is always super friendly and my little ones love the touch pools!
Ginny Valery | Sep 23, 2017
While I really enjoyed petting the sharks, I don't feel like the twenty-three dollars we spent to get in for the three of us was worth it.
Kevin Rossmiller | Aug 8, 2017
Probably a great place to bring kids as most of the experiences are geared towards them. Some cool displays however not really worth the admission unless you have kids with you
Krista Rhodes | Jul 5, 2017
Fun in conjunction with the main campus but not worth it on its own. After more than five years, time to update the jellies.
Francisco Rios | Mar 9, 2018
Beautiful museum and place for events. I was there at a wedding and everything was perfect!
Phyllis Plioplys | May 8, 2018
Cool little place to bring the kids and learn about marine life. Can drop buckets through the pier into the ocean to catch things, observe.them, the release back into the ocean. Touch tanks and cool displays. My daughter volunteers there and she loves it!
Daniel Sarmiento | Apr 12, 2018
The boys love this place. They have great staff at each of the stations teaching the kids about marine life and there is so much to do in the limited space that they have. Boys had a great time in the ocean lab part of the sea center where they got to test the pH level of the water and do the interactive exhibits with water flow and even pulling a net up from the ocean!
Jessica Goodheart | Feb 10, 2018
Small, but nice. Exhibits are great with touch tanks for rays, sharks, anemones, sea stars, cucumbers, and mollusks. You can also take a look at recently collected organisms and small animals from algae. The jellies were nice, and we liked the upstairs exhibit. Docents were helpful and plentiful. A fairly high price, but it provides funding for beach cleanups, plankton research, and education. I think it's totally worth it!
Shellee Landsberger | Apr 28, 2018
This place was perfect for my blind husband. You can pet sand sharks and sting rays, touch anemones and for the sighted see wonderful sea creatures.
Charles Forbin | Jun 1, 2018
A lot of fun for everyone.. a small but well staffed and managed museum with very well informed docents
Karen | Jul 5, 2018
Such a fun day out with children. My boys LOVE it here. We're members and visit regularly. You can touch sharks and rays. They have a tidepool touching exhibit, and a deck observation where they pull up debris and creatures from the bottom of the harbor and you can see what you pulled up under a high powered microscope! Upstairs they have a dark room with aquariums full of jellyfish, decorator crabs, fish, and an octopus. We start downstairs, make our way upstairs, and return downstairs for one more look at the lobster, sharks, rays, and sea stars before lunch. Fun outing!
phyllis tyler | Jun 25, 2018
What a treat is this on the Santa Barbara pier. My 6 year old granddaughter was amazed with the holding of live sea creatures uner the direction of University students of Marine biology. We spent two hours inside and outside.. learning and being amazed. This is a first class Marine biology museum for all ages. And the gift shop has quality gifts. The setting on the lively Santa Barbara pier is breathtaking.
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