image image image image


2020 Dates   *These programs are cancelled due to Covid-19 until further notice.

January 11th, February 8th, March 7th, April 11th, May 9th, June 20th, July 18th, August 15th, September 12th, October 10th, November 21st, December 19th

About the monthly MLI program

Long-term studies are conducted in coastal zones around the globe to monitor human impacts and environmental changes on these fragile ecosystems. To better understand what is happening in our own threatened estuarine ecosystem, the Back Bay Science Center conducts a monthly biological survey called the Marine Life Inventory (MLI). This program is available for local students and the public to assist us with tracking the marine biodiversity and physical environment of Upper Newport Bay. It provides those involved with a hands-on, immersive experience collecting local marine fish, invertebrates, and plankton.

After an introductory lecture on the history and importance of the Back Bay, participants join us in the field to deploy scientific sampling equipment and learn about collection techniques such as: trawl nets used for collecting bottom-dwelling fish and other organisms, a beach seine to survey the animals living near the shoreline, mud sampling devices to capture invertebrates living in the sediment, and plankton nets for collecting the microscopic plants and animals drifting in the open waters of the bay. Data is entered into a database which can be downloaded as an Excel file. Marine researchers and educators can look at seasonal and long-term trends in fish and invertebrate abundance and/or water quality.


The Marine Life Inventory is offered one Saturday per month, at the Back Bay Science Center, and the date is always determined by the best tidal conditions (see dates above). The events take place from 8:30am to 12:30pm, check in begins at 8:15, and we recommend dressing for wet and/or muddy conditions. Each event is limited to 30 participants (Ages 12 & Older), and requires pre-registration through the Education Program Coordinator. If you would like to register, please email Robin Madrid at or call (949) 640-9956.

Teachers~ This program is designed for students from 7th grade through college. If you are interested in signing your class up to particpate, its recommended you register several months ahead of a desired date. These events fill up fast, and any leftover space goes to the general public interested in participating. The Education Program Coordinator will work directly with you and try to accomodate your request.

Community Service Hours

High School students can participate to fulfill part of their community service school requirements. Any student under 15 years of age will be required to bring an adult with them to attend the program.

For more information or to register please email Kathy Sheridan at or call (949) 640-9959.

Check out our Marine Life Inventory (MLI) Digital Database here!

If you have any questions about the MLI data, please contact Kathy Sheridan at