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2019 Dates

2019 - January 12th, February 9th, March 9th, April 6th, May 4th, June 15th, July 20th, August 17th, September 14th, October 19th, November 16th and December 14th.

2018 - November 10th, December 15th

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 monitoring program called the Marine Life Inventory (MLI). This program involves local students and adults getting involved to help monitor the marine life and the physical environment of Upper Newport Bay. It provides those involved with a hands-on experience with local marine fish and invertebrates that are not usually available.

Participants rotate through three sampling programs: a bottom trawl to survey benthic fish and invertebrates that live in the channels of the bay, a beach seine to survey organisms near the shore, mud sampling to survey invertebrates living in the mud, and a plankton trawl to survey the microscopic plants and animals living 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 below). The events take place from 8:15am to 12:30pm, 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 use this opportunity 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. 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