Museum open Wed–Mon, Sea Center open daily; both 10:00 AM–5:00 PM

Sea Center Opportunities

Beach Cleanups

Be part of the solution to marine pollution! Collecting litter on the beach keeps trash out of the ocean and protects the planet. The Sea Center hosts frequent beach cleanups on East Beach. Find dates and details on our calendar.

Anyone who wants to help is welcome to participate. Check our calendar for the next cleanup, where you'll find a link to register so we know how many helpers to expect. Email for more information about upcoming cleanups and how to earn community service hours.

Yes! We just ask that you email with proof of your cleanup: photos of you and the trash you collected, as well as your data collection results (see below). Please note that we can’t sign off on court-ordered community service hours.

Categorizing and counting the trash you find adds to data analyzed by scientists and used by policymakers to protect the environment. Use the Ocean Conservancy’s PDF to report what you collect, or use the Clean Swell app on your smartphone to go paperless.

A smiling young man holds up a blue bucket of trash on the beach

Sea Center Volunteers

Committed volunteers gain community—and community service hours—while sharing their passion for marine conservation!

Two young women smiling as they peek through the giant preserved jaws of a Tiger Shark

Volunteers commit to one shift per week for a minimum of four months. All volunteers begin their path as exhibit interpreters, helping guests interact with and learn about our live animals, from sea anemones to small sharks. Volunteer exhibit interpreters on our Wet Deck demonstrate scientific sampling tools for learning about the life beneath the wharf. Serving as an interpreter is a fast way to develop your communication skills, confidence, and wide-ranging knowledge about local marine life.

After 48 hours of service, some volunteers do advanced training to enjoy new skills and opportunities.

Volunteers interested in further honing their science communication skills can participate in our Science is Lit! program. You’ll dive deep into a scientific research paper and develop their own interpretive talk to engage guests.

Those age 14 and up who are interested in animal care can qualify to become aquarist volunteers. From feeding animals to more advanced tasks, this is a great path to gain experience for a future career in aquarium work.

Absolutely. That’s one of the main reasons our younger volunteers join us. But watch out—volunteering at the Sea Center is addictive! Many volunteers keep coming back long after their hours have been fulfilled, since they enjoy learning, teaching, and a sense of community. Volunteering here can become a career path, too.

Anyone age 11 and up may apply! Volunteers 11–13 must volunteer with a parent or guardian.

First, you'll fill in our easy online application; we’ll contact you for an interview later to make sure you’re ready to assume the responsibilities of volunteering. If you’re selected, you’ll attend some mandatory training to learn everything you need to get started. All applicants 18 years and older must also pass a background check.

A $45 program fee helps us cover the cost of uniforms, badges, and administration. If that’s a hardship for you, please email before your first training to request a fee waiver.

Get started by filling out an application.

Got more questions? Don't hesitate to reach out to our staff at or 805-962-2526 ext. 110.

Volunteer Testimonials

A smiling young woman gives the thumbs up as she holds a long grabbing tool for use feeding fish over an open aquarium

"When I moved to Santa Barbara I knew I wanted to get involved with marine life, so the Sea Center was a perfect fit for me! I started as an exhibit interpreter and got to know the amazing staff as well as get inspired by other volunteers who are passionate about the ocean. I knew when I started volunteering that animal care was my goal, so after a couple of months I applied for the aquarist assistant position! Being an aquarist assistant has taught me so much about animal husbandry and what it means to be an aquarist. Although I’m not sure exactly what I want to do in my future, the experience I’ve gained at the Sea Center makes me confident that a career in aquarist work is a great option. The knowledge and skills I’ve gained have many applications, and I’ve gotten to work with awesome people who keep me passionate about marine life!"
—Volunteer Cecily

An older man is gesturing, speaking to a woman and young child as they look in awe in front of a pool full of sea stars

“The ongoing training is fantastic. When I started at the Sea Center, I knew a little bit about some of the sea life, but it was an eye-opener. Like an ol’ dry sponge falling into a puddle of water, I sucked up all the info I could, and I’m still doing it 16 years later. Everyone here is about the same thing: concern and care for the ocean. The Sea Center is intimate and personal because we volunteers are here to share the good information and answer questions. Our guests leave with a new perspective—We need to take better care of the ocean.” –Volunteer Ken

Find Your Way To Protect the Ocean

Not ready to volunteer yet, but still want to make a difference? Check out our page of local ways to help marine wildlife.