The Oceanographic Teaching Stations (O.T.S.) was founded in 1979 with the mission to foster and promote the public study of, and interest in, the oceans, tidelands and beaches of Southern California, the marine life therein, and the impact of human populations on that environment.
Located over the Pacific Ocean at the end of the Manhattan Beach pier, the Roundhouse Aquarium serves as O.T.S.'s educational facility. The Roundhouse is a small facility with tanks and educational displays squeezed into every available space. The Roundhouse is home to over 75 species of marine life native to the Santa Monica Bay, and a few species from other parts of the world. There are both viewing and touching tanks, as well as interactive displays, books, puzzles, and a children's area to allow people of all ages to learn about and experience the ocean environment.
The Roundhouse has three primary programs that help fulfill our mission:
Volunteer Program, Public Education Program, and Student Education Program.
The Roundhouse relies heavily on support from volunteers to assist the small number of staff. They assist with tank maintenance, facility care, animal care, and public education. This year the Roundhouse volunteer program has grown to include over 100 dedicated individuals. Last year, volunteers donated over 5,500 hours of their time to the aquarium. Ninety-eight percent of volunteers are between the ages of 13-22. We currently have 2 volunteers who have served over 500 hours, and 2 volunteers under 20 years old, who have served over 1,000 hours with our facility. Many of our high school volunteers have gone on to college to study science or other related fields. Volunteers are a huge asset to the Roundhouse, and also gain a lot from the experience, including: public speaking skills, animal husbandry skills, marine biology knowledge, environmental knowledge, leadership experience, time management skills, communication skills, team building skills, social skills, work ethics, and life skills.
Public Education Program
The Roundhouse is open to the public free of charge every day. This allows all interested individuals (over 125,000 each year!) to visit the Roundhouse regardless of socio-economical status. Many visitors have not previously been educated about the oceans, marine life, the environment, or human impacts on the ocean and environment. Through our tanks, hands-on displays, educational materials, volunteers, and staff we strive to educate each visitor and provide them the opportunity to interact with marine life in ways they would not be able to otherwise. These experiences with the natural world are critical to increasing awareness, building compassion, and desiring to protect nature.
Student Education Program
Each year, over 14,000 students from across Los Angeles and Orange Counties and the surrounding areas take part in the Roundhouse’s educational programs. Students learn about the ocean, marine life, the environment, science, and human impacts in a hands-on, experiential atmosphere. The Roundhouse offers a variety of classes to meet any need, including on-site, tidepool, and outreach classes of varying lengths and topics. The Roundhouse education program is set apart from similar programs at other local aquariums by the qualifications of the Roundhouse staff. All classes are taught by the full-time staff members who are specialists in the field. The diverse knowledge and high qualifications of our educators allows the Roundhouse to be flexible in the curriculum taught each day, allowing us to meet special needs of the school, class, or students. All classes include time for student questions and an active presentation about marine pollution. Thanks to a generous donation, a few years ago the Roundhouse was able to purchase and outfit an Outreach Education Van. Live animals, specimens, and artifacts are transported from the Roundhouse to schools. This option is important for schools with students that are unable to travel on field trips.