Want to add a little science to your visit to Bodega Bay? Do you have a budding Marine Scientist in your family? Consider including a trip to the Bodega Marine Laboratory (BML) in your Bodega Bay experience. If you are a person interested in the oceans and their importance to our lives, visiting BML will be a great addition to your Bodega Bay visit.

BML is located off California Coast Highway 1 about three miles from the village of Bodega Bay. It is 28 miles from Santa Rosa, 65 miles north of San Francisco and 100 miles west of Davis.

BML is not a museum or a zoo. It’s a full-time research facility. However, the public is invited to learn about BML and its work through public drop-in tours which are available most Fridays, 2:00-4:00 PM, for groups of less than 10 people. Volunteer docents lead interpretive tours for all ages although reviewers suggest that it is not ideal for younger children. The docents have a reputation for being informative, fun and willing and able to answer almost any question. They will walk you back through the labs to see projects involving, sea urchins, crabs, sea slugs, reintroducing purple abalone and others.

Upon entering BML, you will find a 24-foot-long display, containing many colorful local fishes and invertebrates, and a small kelp forest. Past that is a harbor aquarium, holding residents of the local estuary, Bodega Harbor. Next to that is a round aquarium that displays anemones and other organisms from the local nearshore subtidal habitat. Elsewhere around the facility are smaller displays featuring local and, occasionally, unique marine creatures. A tidepool display allows visitors to experience the biodiversity and dynamic energy of the northern California coast.

Tours wind through parts of the sprawling complex. Visiting a marine lab isn’t like visiting for-profit aquariums, although there are only a few live exhibits, you get a chance to see ongoing studies of the ocean, fish, and animals. You will gain first-hand experience of how the researchers do their work. You will also learn about conservation programs and how resident scientists are working on solving the complex environmental problems related to the Norther California coastline.

A visit to BML will change your perspective of Bodega Bay. This side-trip offers the unique opportunity to see Bodega Bay and its environs through the eyes of working scientists.