Join scientists on this picturesque island and help to monitor the health of marine mammals such as California sea lions, gray whales, and common dolphins.

More than 100 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) span the coast of California, including the waters around Catalina Island. But how effective are MPAs in protecting coastal ecosystems? And how are global threats such as climate change impacting marine life in this region? With your help, scientists aim to find out.

Catalina Island, located just 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, is home to a wide variety of plant and animal species, and surrounded by some of the most vibrant kelp forest habitats in the world. This region is also home to multiple Areas of Special Biological Significance and seven MPAs, which are regions designed to safeguard marine animals, plants, and their habitats by limiting human activities such as fishing or boating.

Catalina is sometimes referred to as a ‘living laboratory.’ Despite its close proximity to Los Angeles, a major urban landscape, the island is relatively remote and significant efforts have been made to protect its coastal waters. It is therefore an ideal region to study not only the effects of MPAs on the health of marine ecosystems, but how global threats, such as climate change, are impacting these waters.

You will monitor the health of a unique coastal habitat, including recording the abundance of marine mammals; collecting water samples; surveying the inhabitants of the intertidal zone; and observing the ways in which humans use this delicate habitat. Contribute to Pacific coast datasets to conserve a valuable marine ecosystem.


Two Harbors, Catalina Island, California, USA



Includes all accommodation, meals, transfers, insurance and research activities


7 days


Update October 15 2021: As overseas travel restrictions and covid requirements are not fully finalised, our overseas expeditions are not yet back on sale from Australia. We appreciate that people are as keen as we are to travel and we will facilitate these amazing experiences again as soon as possible. In the meantime, please refer to our Australian experiences.

Activity Level


Lead Scientist

John Heidelberg