Estuary & Ocean Science Center

Estuary & Ocean Science Center opens marine lab to public April 30

After a three-year hiatus, the EOS Center’s open house welcomes the community to its scenic locale for family-friendly fun

What does an oceanographer do? How are scientists using oysters and eelgrass to save San Francisco Bay? Want to meet “slug bunnies”?

Answers to these questions and more can be found at San Francisco State University’s Estuary & Ocean Science (EOS) Center’s free Marine Lab Open House Sunday, April 30, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Community members can meet local marine scientists and San Francisco Bay critters and learn how EOS Center scientists collaborate with nature to conduct research and mitigate impacts of climate change.

“We miss welcoming the community to the EOS Center. Hearing what our community asks, what they don’t understand and how they would like to be involved makes us think and helps us be better scientists and communicators,” EOS Center's Interim Executive Director Katharyn Boyer said.

The EOS Center is located at San Francisco State’s Romberg Tiburon Campus (3150 Paradise Drive, Tiburon, California). This will be the first in-person open house EOS Center has hosted since its 2019 event, which drew over 1,000 attendees.

Boyer has noticed that the community has shifted its focus to wanting to understand the issues facing the local Bay ecosystem. Many EOS Center researchers work with onsite partners from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and National Estuarine Research Reserve to make advances in nature-based solutions to local climate change.

“The EOS Center is the only marine lab on San Francisco Bay. We do the on-the-ground, in-the-mud, under-the-water, in-the-lab research that reveals how the Bay functions,” Boyer added, pointing out that the Center has trained students and scientists for nearly 45 years. “Our deep and immersive (pun intended) understanding of this ecosystem means we are often the first to notice when those functions have gone astray.”

At the open house, the public will have access to nearly 100 active marine lab scientists who will be showcasing their work and are eager to talk to the community. The family-friendly event includes a variety of activities that range from a touch tank with Bay creatures and listening to whale and dolphin sounds to more informational activities about underwater plants that reduce ocean acidification. There will also be a food truck and oyster bar.

“One of my favorite things to do at our open house is point out the slug bunnies on the eelgrass in our tanks,” Boyer said, explaining that they are a type of sea slug called eelgrass sea hares that vaguely resemble a green, striped rabbit. More importantly, these little creatures promote eelgrass growth by eating algae on eelgrass blades — and this growth can calm shore water, store carbon and reduce ocean acidification. Boyer finds that the slugs are a great way to draw children and adults alike into larger science and conservation conversations … until they are distracted by the environment surrounding the EOS Center.

“A true open house story: a small grey whale breached right along our shore while I was waxing poetically about how sea hares are climate change heroes, and I quickly lost my audience,” Boyer said, highlighting EOS Center’s scenic and significant locale overlooking the water. “But I hope that the wonders of the slug bunnies had already sunk in, showing that the little things in the Bay deserve our attention too.”

Register for the free Marine Lab Open House and learn more about the EOS Center.