NOAA Ocean Discovery Day

The sanctuary ballroom bustling with activities on Ocean Discovery Day 2016

Ocean Discovery Day is a FREE event designed to introduce residents and visitors to NOAA programs in their community. This open house invites people into the NOAA Galveston Lab to enjoy hands-on activities; explore coral reefs, salt marshes, offshore oil platforms and marine science careers; discover Fort Crockett history; learn how to rescue dolphins; visit with sea turtles; and see what NOAA is and does here in the Gulf of Mexico.

Saturday, March 25, 2017
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

NOAA Galveston Lab at Fort Crockett
4700 Avenue U
Galveston, TX 77551

  • No reservations required.
  • It will probably take 2-3 hours to see everything that will be available during the event.
  • Activities are located indoors and outdoors across the property, so dress comfortably for the weather and walking around.
  • Some activities may help students meet requirements for various scout badges or awards, but we do not offer anything specific for scouts.
  • There are no food or drink vendors at this event. Water fountains are available.
  • Handicap parking is available on the grounds. All other parking is located outside the fence along Avenue U (north side of facility) and Fort Crockett Boulevard (south side).
  • Volunteers are needed to assist with this event.

For more information, contact Shelley.DuPuy@noaa.gov

Download an Ocean Discovery Day 2017 flyer (230kb pdf)

Sanctuary Activities

While the sanctuary is just one part of the entire NOAA Galveston Lab, we think we've hosted a number of spectacular activities at each Ocean Discovery Day.

Here are a few sanctuary highlights from past years:

Colorful reef mural mosaic featuring a manta ray.

March 12, 2016

Bag Making - Participants created reusable shopping bags from old t-shirts to cut down on the need for single-use plastic bags. (Plastics, Plastics Everywhere! Lesson available)

Coral Monitoring - Participants examined life-size images of the sanctuary's coral reefs to see how much coral was present. (Reef Monitoring Curriculum available)

CTD Exploration - Participants learned how a CTD Carousel is used to collect water samples at different depths in the ocean.

Lionfish - Participants met a lionfish from the sanctuary and learned why this invasive species is a threat to coral reefs

Marine Archaeology - Participants learned about marine archaeology while sifting for hidden treasure

Manta Ray Reef Mural Painting - Participants re-created a colorful mural by each painting only one 8" square, then piecing the picture back together. (Paint a Reef Mural Lesson available)

Michelle and Travis talking to visitors about a small lionfish in an aquarium on a table

March 14, 2015

Bag Making - Participants created reusable shopping bags from old t-shirts to cut down on the need for single-use plastic bags. (Plastics, Plastics Everywhere! Lesson available)

CTD Exploration - Participants learned how a CTD Carousel is used to collect water samples at different depths in the ocean.

Sanctuary Expansion - Participants learned about plans to expand the sanctuary and were invited to submit public comments.

Fish Making - Participants were invited to design their own fish using magnetic pieces shaped like fins, mouths, tails, etc. (Fish Fun Lesson available)

Law Enforcement - Participants talked to a NOAA Law Enforcement officer and learned about fishing and sanctuary regulations.

Lionfish - Participants met a lionfish from the sanctuary and learned why this invasive species is a threat to coral reefs

Story Telling - Participants listened to ocean-themed stories told with the help of puppets.

Sea Turtle Mural Painting - Participants re-created a colorful mural by each painting only one 8" square, then piecing the picture back together. (Paint a Reef Mural Lesson available)

Ocean Discovery Day 2016

 

Looking down on the ballroom full of people and activities.
A banner overhead says Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
The sanctuary ballroom was filled with activities provided by the sanctuary and several of its partners.
A volunteer bending over a table to help a young visitor
on the other side cut a t-shirt
Volunteers from the Bring the Bag campaign helped guests make bags from old t-shirts so they can avoid single use plastic bags.
Marissa squatted down talking to young visitors who are examining
life size images of the coral reef to see what they can identify
Marissa Nuttall explained how we monitor sanctuary reefs using photographs, quadrats and transect lines as small children walked across a lifesize image of the reef.
A volunteer points to one of the tubes on the CTD carousel
as she explains how the carousel works
Dustin Picard and a volunteer talked about this carousel used to collect water samples at various depths to give us a top to bottom profile of water quality and conditions.
Young girls looking at a small lionfish in an aquarium with a lionfish model perched on top
Michelle Johnston and several volunteers talked to guests about the invasive lionfish problem.
Young boys sifting sand through a sieve to find coins and beads
Texas Historic Commission Marine Archaeology Division provided a "treasure" dig for young people to practice finding items buried in sand in much the same way that marine archaeologists uncover shipwreck artifacts.
This video shows a timelapse sequence of photos taken during the making of the shallow reefs of FGBNMS mural at Ocean Discovery Day 2016.
Looking down a row of tables full of people painting
The mural room was busy, as usual. Guests had to wait their turns for a chance to paint.
A plate with blobs of paint in different colors
next to the hands of a person painting something green
This participant opted to paint a section of the mural that showed a green star coral colony.
Looking over the shoulder of someone painting yellow fish
This participant painted part of a school of bright yellow fish swimming above the reef.
A boy watches a man place painted squares on the wall
As individual squares dried, they were put in place on the mural wall.
Looking over the shoulder of someone painting a red shrimp
Scarlet Embesi painted a red cleaner shrimp sitting on the head of a moray eel.
A girl posing with a paper original next to the square she painted, already mounted on the wall
Scarlet posed with a copy of the original mural square and her reproduction once it was mounted on the wall.
Two women placing additional painted squares on the wall next to a ladder
As the morning progressed, more and more squares were added to the mural until it was complete.
Original reef mural with a grid pattern of string over across the surface
Original shallow reefs of the Flower Garden Banks mural by artist/educator Jacqui Stanley. String was used to separate this into 144 square sections for visitors to choose from.
Colorful mosaic mural of a coral reef scene with a manta ray
Finished mural made of 144 separate paintings that correspond to the squares outlined in string on the original mural.

Ocean Discovery Day 2015

 

Colorful maps displayed on a white table with a blue skirt. Other maps and displays are visible in the background
Visitors had a chance to learn more about Sanctuary Expansion, ask questions, and even submit online comments during Ocean Discovery Day.
A CTD carousel
This carousel is used to collect water samples at various depths to give us a top to bottom profile of water quality conditions.
A man standing behind a table talking to guests on the other side
Charles Tyer talked to guests about NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement and their duties in the Gulf of Mexico.
A man and a woman behind a table looking into a 
small aquarium with a lionfish inside as three visitors watch
Travis Sterne and Michelle Johnston talked to guests about the invasive lionfish problem.
A young girl playing with magnetic pieces on a table
A young guest designed her own fish using magnetic pieces, an activity presented by SMART Literacy.
A large shark model suspended over rows of empty seats set up for a presentation
Surfrider Galveston sent volunteers to show guests how to make reusable shopping bags from old t-shirts.
A woman sitting in a chair reading a story with a group of kids and adults sitting on the floor around her feet
Mrs. Schmahl used puppets to tell stories to young guests and their parents.
This video shows a timelapse sequence of photos taken during the making of the sea turtles of Gulf of Mexico mural at Ocean Discovery Day 2015.
A cup full of paint brushes sitting on a table with a sea turtle mural visible in the background
Paintbrushes await the beginning of the mural painting festivities at the start of the day.
Original sea turtle mural showing the 5 species found in the Gulf of Mexico
Original sea turtles of the Gulf of Meixico mural by artist/educator Jacqui Stanley.
Final mosaic mural of the sea turtles of the Gulf of Mexico
Finished mural made of 162 separate paintings that correspond to sections of the original mural.
A display with the question, How Is Water Important to You? at the top 
with colorful sticky notes below where people have written in their resopnses

March 22, 2014

Lionfish - Participants met a lionfish from the sanctuary and learned why this invasive species is a threat to coral reefs

Sanctuary Science -Participants learned about corals and tools for exploration in the sanctuary.

Water Appreciation - Participants left messages telling us how important water is to their lives, in honor of World Water Day.

"Window in the Waves" - Participants watched the newly released Window in the Waves documentary about the sanctuary.

Whale Mural Painting - Participants re-created a colorful mural by each painting only one 8" square, then piecing the picture back together. (Paint a Reef Mural Lesson available)

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Map surrounded by short biographies of the people
that different banks are named for. String lines lead from 
each biography to the associated bank on the map.

March 23, 2013

Bank Biographies - Participants learned about different banks & reefs along the Texas/Louisiana coast and how they were named

Lionfish - Participants met a lionfish from the sanctuary and learned why this invasive species is a threat to coral reefs

Marine Archaeology - Participants examined shipwreck artifacts and tried various activities that simulated underwater excavation situations

Marine Debris - Participants encountered a pile of trash collected the day before on a Galveston beach and learned about the impacts of marine debris

NOAA Corps - Participants learned about NOAA's uniformed officer corps and talked with officers assigned to the sanctuary

Preserved & Fossil Specimens - Participants examined specimens and learned about fossil coral reefs of Texas

Reef Monitoring - Participants learned how researchers take monitoring photos on the reef and tried out the equipment for themselves (Reef Monitoring Curriculum available)

Kelp Forest Mural Painting - Participants re-created a colorful mural by each painting only one 8" square, then piecing the picture back together. (Paint a Reef Mural Lesson available)

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A table full of paint pallets and people painting

March 24, 2012

Blue Seas, Green Communities - Participants learned what they can do to keep our ocean healthy and left comments about what they will do.

Deep Sea Exploration - Participants took pictures in a cutout of a deep sea divers suit and followed along with a live deep sea expedition online.

FGBNMS 20th Anniversary - Participants discovered 20 Things to Love about the sanctuary in it's 20th year of existence.

NOAA Corps - Participants learned about NOAA's uniformed officer corps and talked with officers assigned to the sanctuary

Sanctuary Expansion - Participants learned about the Sanctuary Advisory Council recommendation for sanctuary expansion.

Sanctuary Highlights Video - Participants experienced the sanctuary through underwater video footage of fish, sharks, rays, coral spawning and more.

Thank You Ocean - Participants wrote messages to the ocean and posed for photos with their messages in front of sanctuary reefscapes that were then posted to Facebook.

Deep Reef Mural Painting - Participants re-created a colorful mural by each painting only one 8" square, then piecing the picture back together. (Paint a Reef Mural Lesson available)

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Five high school students posing with a 
walk around character called Sanctuary Sam, a sea lion

March 26, 2011

Manta Catalog - Participants learned about manta rays and how we use our Manta Catalog to identify individuals.

NOAA Corps - Participants learned about NOAA's uniformed officer corps and talked with officers assigned to the sanctuary

Recycled Art - Participants repurposed trash by making it into artwork.

Reef Monitoring - Participants practiced finding the differences between cartoon images then applied those skills to reef photos used for monitoring sanctuary health. (Reef Monitoring Curriculum available)

Sanctuary Sam - Participants took photos with Sanctuary Sam, a walk around character of a sea lion.

Sanctuary Management - Participants learned about how the sanctuary is managed and the development of our Sanctuary Management Plan.

Underwater Photography - Participants examined an underwater camera system and viewed some of the spectacular photos taken by sanctuary staff.

Reef Mural Painting - Participants re-created a colorful mural by each painting only one 8" square, then piecing the picture back together. (Paint a Reef Mural Lesson available)

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Large illuminated globe showing South America and Africa, with lines through the ocean basins
to show where tectonic plates meet

May 1, 2010

Being Green/Blue - Participants picked up reusable shopping bags and plastic cups as they learned how to create less trash.

Weather - Participants discovered how a cloud holds water and how tornados form.

Coral - Participants examined coral skeletons and learned about coral biology.

Sanctuary Expansion - Participants learned about the Sanctuary Advisory Council recommendation for sanctuary expansion.

Sanctuary Sam - Participants took photos with Sanctuary Sam, a walk around character of a sea lion.

Law Enforcement - Participants talked to a NOAA Law Enforcement officer and learned about fishing and sanctuary regulations.

Science on a Sphere - Participants watched interactive shows about the ocean science, weather and the atmosphere on a large illuminated globe.

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A male artist drawing a cartoon pufferfish at an easel

March 2008

Coral - Participants learned about corals by examining coral skeletons and models of corals.

Knot Tying - Participants practiced tying a variety of nautical knots with Captain Ken.

Sanctuary Expansion - Participants learned about the Sanctuary Advisory Council recommendation for sanctuary expansion.

Story Telling - Participants listened to ocean-themed stories told with the help of puppets.

Reusable Bags - Participants learned from Sanctuary Advisory Council members how to cut down on single-use plastics by opting for reusable bags.

Cartoon Drawing - Participants learned how to draw cartoon sea creatures.

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Man in a Hawaiian shirt and khaki vest making
wave motions with his arms and wearing a straw
hat with fake grass and a plush frog on top.

January 2007

GIS Mapping - Participants observed how GIS is used to help map out the sanctuary and its surroundings.

NOAA Corps - Participants learned about NOAA's uniformed officer corps and talked with officers assigned to the sanctuary

Law Enforcement - Participants talked to a NOAA Law Enforcement officer and learned about fishing and sanctuary regulations.

Sanctuary Highlights - Participants were introduced to the sanctuary.

Sea Camp - Participants discovered opportunities for fun summer learning about the ocean.

Lucas Miller - Participants watched live performances from Lucas Miller, the Singing Zoologist.

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