Family Workshops at the Visitor Center

image of remotely operated vehicle and families fishing for crabs


Dive deeper into ocean science as a family at our Sanctuary Visitor Center Family Workshops. Led by our team of marine science educators, these weekend workshops are perfect for 4–10 year old budding marine biologists and their families. These exciting hands-on workshops explore a diversity of subjects including Crabs, Plankton, Sharks, Squid, Salmon, Remotely Operated Vehicles, and even BioBlitzes. Fees apply. Scholarships are available. See below for program descriptions and upcoming dates! To sign up for the family workshop email list, contact Jean Alupay at Check for Upcoming Workshops and Registration here:

Simply Sea Otters Workshop

Join us as we delve into the lifestyle of the most otterly adorable marine mammal. Participants will learn the important roll that sea otters play in maintaining a healthy kelp forest habitat.Touch real sea otter pelts and skulls as well as view photos and videos of these hairy creatures. Attendees will end the class playing a life-sized board game dedicated entirely to this important mammal.

Plankton Discovery Workshop

Join us for an exciting exploration of the weird and wonderful world of plankton in the waters just off Crissy Field. Be dazzled by diatoms, dinoflagellates and copepods. Discover bizarre larvae from barnacles, crabs and mussels. Participants get to collect their own samples and use their own microscopes. We will also have a projecting microscope to view wriggling and flitting microscopic monsters on the big screen.

Squid for Squirts Workshop

Intrigued by ink? Tickled by tentacles? Delve into the watery world of cephalopods. Watch a mysterious squid film, learn about amazing squid adaptations and make your own squid print souvenirs. This workshop takes hands-on to a whole new level as participants dissect their own market squids using blunt-nose scissors.

Explore Sand Crabs Workshop

Ever wondered what’s right below your feet when walking on the sandy beach? Wonder what those shorebirds are digging for with their skinny bills? Get ready to learn about the incredible life of sand crabs! Participants will become citizen scientists and help monitor the abundance of these extraordinary creatures all right at the beach along Crissy Field. Come prepared to get your toes wet!

Salmon Dissection Workshop

Join us for a hands-on exploration of one of California’s most famous fish! Learn about the unique life cycle of salmonids and create your own fish prints using a real Chinook salmon. Participants will get to know salmon both inside and out during our naturalist-led dissection. As an added bonus, kick off your shoes and play our giant hand-painted salmon life cycle game.

Life as a Leatherback Workshop

Learn what it takes to be the world's largest species of turtle. Participants will discover the life cycle of a Leatherback sea turtle through interactive games and stories. Explore sea turtle skulls and specimens as well as witness real scientific video footage of a Leatherback foraging for food in the sanctuary. Attendees will also team up to assemble a life-size Leatherback model.

BioBlitz Workshop

Embrace your inner naturalist and join our marine science educators for a family BIOBLITZ. The idea is simple: Hunt for as many animals as possible using nets, traps, hooks, and hands. There are crabs, fish, marine snails, birds, worms, and so much more waiting to be discovered! We will be combing the beach, scanning the skies, and searching the waters around our pier classroom.

Phycology Phamily Workshop

"Are you keen on kelp? Do you think algae is altogether alluring? Join us for our first-ever Phycology Phamily Workshop, where participants will learn about the fantastic forest of kelp that grows just offshore in our sanctuary

Octo Lab Workshop

Join us for Octo Lab! Participants will discover one of the oceans most intelligent creatures - the octopus! Teams will measure, weigh, study, touch, and squish their way through the lab using their own defrosted octopus specimen. As the grand finale, we will create octopus stop motion videos as well as octopus prints for you to take home as keep-sakes.

Wonderful Whales Workshop

Weighing in at 300,000 pounds and 100 ft long, the Blue whale takes the gold for being the largest animal. Utilizing Crissy Beach and our pier building, participants will begin to understand how this magnificent creature survives in our ocean. This class will help you visualize the feeding habits, behaviors, and current threats to whales in our sanctuary through interactive games, videos, and hands-on demonstrations, culminating in a mini-beach clean-up.

Build a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Workshop

Engineers wanted! Join us for our brand-new Build a ROV (remotely operated vehicle) program. Participants will learn about the important parts of a ROV and how they help scientists discover the mysteries of the deep ocean. They will watch real footage from deep-sea submersible explorations taken in the marine sanctuaries along our California coast. Participants will design and build their own ROV's and test drive them in the water off of our pier classroom!

Seabird Sleuthing Workshop

Calling all birders-in-training! Prepare yourselves for a seabird spectacle. Participants will be led on a seabird discovery walk of Crissy Field. Observe pelicans soaring, cormorants diving, and gulls scavenging all through the lens of your own pair of binoculars, which we provide! After the walk, participants will dissect an Albatross bolus. Don't know what that is? Attend to find out!

Crab Fishing Workshop

Attention all curious crustaceans! Prepare your claws and carapaces for a family event devoted entirely to crabs. Learn about crab anatomy with our crab dress-up costume and naturalist-led dissection of invasive green crabs. Look and touch real live shore crabs and sand crabs. As a grand finale, we will be using crab traps to fish for rock and Dungeness crabs off of our classroom pier.

Sand Scientists Workshop

It’s time to become a sand scientist! In this workshop, participants will examine the sand on Crissy Field beach as a scientist would. Collect sand samples and sieve out the creatures that live amongst the grains. Transport your sand samples back to the "sand lab" and examine it under the microscope. Afterward, processed sand will be used for a creative art project. Come prepared to get your hands sandy and to have fun!"

Build-a-Shark Workshop

Come on down to the Greater Farallones Visitor Center for a naturalist-led shark workshop! Participants will interact with real shark specimens, teeth and skin as well as watch footage of white sharks at the Farallon Islands. The program features our hands-on "Build-a-Shark" activity, where participants will assemble a life-size white shark model, piece by piece.