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Ocean Connectors is making a big impact, enhancing overall knowledge of marine conservation and scientific principles for today’s youth. Each of our programs focuses on a case-study migratory species to teach about ocean conservation issues. Annual program evaluations indicate that participating students and teachers gain environmental knowledge and adopt stewardship behaviors as a result of Ocean Connectors. They also make pledges demonstrating their commitment to helping the planet. Long-term assessments have shown that, six years following their participation in Ocean Connectors, 70% of our students continue to take positive environmental actions on a regular basis (2014).


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Sea Turtle Discovery

Endangered green sea turtles can be found in warm ocean waters around the world. A small population of Eastern Pacific green sea turtles migrates from their feeding grounds in the South San Diego Bay to Las Islas Revillagigedo in Mexico, connecting communities over 1,000 miles apart. Ocean Connectors students learn valuable methods for protecting this species and its habitat, including how our land-based actions affect aquatic ecosystems, and they visit local aquariums to see rehabilitated sea turtles in-person. Themes for this program include waste management and single-use plastic.

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California Whale Exploration

California gray whales complete an amazing 6,000+ mile annual migration from their feeding grounds in the Arctic to their calving lagoons on the Baja California peninsula, one of the longest known migrations of any mammal! This route connects youth across North America – from Alaska, to California, to Mexico. Ocean Connectors enables schoolchildren to get a firsthand look at this amazing species of wildlife during whale watching field trips off the coast, and to use tracking technology to follow the whales on their long journey. Themes for this program include sustainable seafood and bycatch.

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Bird and habitat study

The black brant is a marine goose that travels the Pacific Flyway, leaving the Arctic in the fall and flying nearly nonstop to spend the winter feeding on the coast of Southern California and Mexico. These birds depend on clean and healthy coastal habitats for rest and survival, such as estuaries, bays, and beaches. Ocean Connectors students across the Pacific Coast learn we must collaborate internationally to protect this shared species, and attend bird watching and habitat restoration field trips to help improve the quality of local natural areas. Program themes include coastal development and habitat loss.

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Shark Investigation Unit

The case-study species for our newest curriculum is the thresher shark, selected due to its local presence off the Pacific coast, migration patterns, fascinating feeding behavior, and a wide range of conservation challenges. Threats to the thresher include direct fishing for their fins and meat, as well as bycatch in gillnets and longlines. The thresher has slow life history characteristics, making it even more vulnerable to exploitation and overfishing, our main themes for this program.


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  • Audience Size

    This school year, Ocean Connectors is reaching approximately 4,000 underserved students in National City, California and Nayarit, Mexico with our free environmental education programs.

  • Knowledge Improvements

    Student knowledge of marine life, ocean STEM, and sustainability increases by at least 10% each year.

  • Behavior Changes

    45% of our students promise to pick up litter from their community as a way to benefit ocean health.

  • Teacher Feedback

    Ocean Connectors has consistently achieved a teacher satisfaction rating of approximately 96% for the past decade.

  • Habitat Impacts

    Our students have installed roughly 5,000 native plants over the years!

Recent Accomplishments

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In 2015 we launched San Diego Bay eco tours that increase access to outdoor public resources and coastal recreation. Learn more about our Eco Tours.

Ocean Connectors was one of six local nonprofits selected by LEAD San Diego to undergo an assisted strategic planning process with a team of professionals from the community.

Ocean Connectors joined with National City and A Reason To Survive (ARTS) to create the educational watershed wall along A Avenue in downtown National City.

The Ocean Foundation, our fiscal sponsor organization, achieved the highest rating on Charity Navigator and is a Silver Level participant on GuideStar Exchange.

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