We are now open for outdoor programming.

The Back Bay Science Center is an education and research facility made up of four operating partners. These partners include: City of Newport Beach, Orange County Health Care Agency, University of California Irvine, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The mission of the Back Bay Science Center is to provide a hands-on facility where students and the public can study and enjoy the estuarine ecology of Newport Bay, and the marine ecology of the ocean, while promoting natural resource conservation and stewardship throughout the watershed.

clapper rail.jpg
bbsc sheephead.jpg

Located in Newport Beach, CA next to the Newport Dunes, the facility provides year-round educational programs emphasizing estuarine and marine ecology; connecting these concepts to the greater watershed.


Over 750 thousand people live in this watershed, which incorporates nine densely populated and urbanized cities. Pollutants from these urban areas funnel down through the Back Bay estuary and out to the Pacific Ocean. The Back Bay Science Center strives towards educating local students and citizens about the critical role they play in the health of thier watershed. Our goal is for people to become stewards of their environment and the Newport Back Bay.

Upper Newport Bay is an ecological reserve and is part of a Marine Protected Area (MPA). More specifically a State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA).

The Back Bay Science Center hosts and supports annual events such as California Biodiversity Day, Coastal Clean Up Day, Earth Day, and more!

The Back Bay Science Center is a partnership between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the City of Newport Beach, the University of California Irvine, and the County of Orange Health Care Agency. 

The Importance of the Bay

The habitats surrounding the Back Bay Science Center include:

Wetlands: The primary factor that distinguishes wetlands is the characteristic vegetation that is adapted to its unique soil conditions. This coastal wetland, one of the largest in southern California, is renowned as one of the finest bird watching sites in North America. During winter migration up to 35,000 birds may be using the Bay at one time.


Estuaries: An estuary is a partly enclosed coastal body of water with one or more rivers or streams flowing into it, and with a free connection to the open sea. Estuaries form a transition zone between river environments and ocean environments and are subject to both marine influences, such as tides, waves, and the influx of saline water; and riverine influences, such as flows of fresh water and sediment. The inflow of both seawater and freshwater provide high levels of nutrients in both the water column and sediment, making estuaries among the most productive natural habitats in the world. Upper Newport Bay is one of the most pristine remaining estuaries in Southern California.