monroe school kids at the reef
little girl holds a sea urchin at the reef
little boy holds and analize a lobster shell at the reef
elelmentary school students look at crab at the reef

The REEF (The Research Experience & Education Facility)

Nothing is more exciting and educational than a hands-on experience with the natural environment right in our own front Yard: the Santa Barbara Channel!

From two, to 2000, gallons, the REEF is an interactive aquarium designed to provide the visitor with an unparalleled view of our ocean planet. Guided by UCSB students, visitors to the REEF learn, through guided hands-on exploration, about our local marine ecosystems, as well as other important ocean habitats around the world.

We work with scientist from the following, nationally recognized research projects,

  • SBC-LTER: Santa Barbara Coastal Long-Term Ecological Research Kelp Forest Ecology, Watersheds and Oceanography
  • MCR-LTER: Mo’orea Coral Reef Long-Term Ecological Research Coral Reef Ecology and Oceanography
  • PISCO: Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans Marine Protected Areas, Climate Change and Marine Resources

Our professional education staff develops content to effectively communicate this science to:

PreK-12 Programming-Oceans-to-Classrooms (O2C-MSI), NSF LTER Schoolyard (sLTER), NSF Math Science Partnership Schools (MSP-CRELPEL), Harding University Partnership School (HUPS-GGSE), Kids in Nature (KIN-CCBER)

Teacher Professional Development-Teacher Education Program (TEP-GGSE-UCSB), NSF MSP Culturally Relevant Ecology, Learning Progressions and Environmental Literacy, Channel Explorers, Santa Barbara Watershed Education Team

Outreach and Afterschool Programming-Tech Trek (AAUW), Early Academic Outreach Programs (UC-EAOP), American Indians Scholars Program (AISP-AOP-UCSB), Girls Inc., Afterschool Opportunities for Kids (A-OK), Boy/Girl Scouts of America (BSA/GSA), GATE Hope School District, Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation, Isla Vista Parks and Recreation

Community Programming-Braille Institute, Transition House, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Oaks Parent Child Workshop, Marine Aquarium Society of Ventura County

Mobile REEF Unit (MRU)- Brings our interactive aquariums and O2C programming directly into classrooms and community events throughout Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.

General Public Programming-Open Door Program.  The REEF is open, for FREE on Saturdays from 11am to 2 pm.

For hours, availability and scheduling please send REEF requests to: