Sea anemones

When you’re up at Coal Oil Point in Goleta, or down at Carpinteria State Park, or at any other tide pool along the California coast, do you ever wonder what sort of strange marine life lives in that murky, shallow water? Well if you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you’re in luck.

The California Tidepools app is a downloadable education program that aims to make learning about beach life fun. It includes a database of photos of ocean animals that could be encountered, along with common and scientific names, taxonomy, descriptions, habitats, predators and prey, and fun facts. “It’s one thing to find an urchin or a fish,” the app developers say. “It’s more fun to learn that urchin can live for 100 years, or that fish is a baby Opaleye that can breathe air when young.”

Along with being a fun educational tool, the makers of the California Tidepools app hope to raise awareness about the Outreach Center for Teaching Ocean Science (OCTOS), a planned state-of-the-art science education facility being developed by UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute in conjunction with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

OCTOS, which will be open to both the general public and for school visits, hopes to increase ocean literacy by engaging visitors in scientific discovery, featuring exhibits like a kelp forest in a 20,000-gallon tank, an interactive theater, and a fully functional wet lab. This app is another one of the ways OCTOS plans to engage the public.

Developed by the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, UCSB Marine Science Institute, LiMPETS (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students), and volunteers from Citrix Systems, Inc., the app currently has a 5-star rating on the Apple Store Web site.

For more information on OCTOS visit


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