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About Us

The Discovery Center is alive.

The Living Coast Discovery Center is a living, breathing, flapping, buzzing and splashing home to the unique animals and plants of Southern California.  6 miles south of downtown San Diego, the Center sits on the 316-acre Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

Have you ever gone swimming in the open water and caught a glimpse of other creatures swimming with you? The Discovery Center aquariums are home to Moray eels, Leopard sharks, stingrays, guitarfish and other marine life found in San Diego Bay.

The Discovery Center is not a natural history museum. Rescued birds thrive at exhibits like Raptor Row and Eagle Mesa. Owls, pelicans, gnatcatchers and eagles are just a few of our resident native birds.

The Living Coast Discovery Center is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing environmental education on coastal resource conservation, and instilling a respect for nature and wildlife in people of all ages.

We do this by providing interactive wildlife learning experiences.  Our curators and volunteer docents introduce guests to the way our native creatures live in their natural habitats.

School Programs

For more than 25 years, the Living Coast Discovery Center has hosted thousands of school children every year for field trips, science classes, scout events and other kid-friendly opportunities.

Endangered Species Breeding & Release Program

The Discovery Center partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, and independent biologists to captive – breed and release one of California’s most endangered water birds – the Light-footed Clapper Rail.

Our Vision

The Living Coast Discovery Center inspires the care and exploration of the living Earth by connecting people with coastal animals, plants and habitats.

Our Mission Statement

The mission of the Living Coast Discovery Center is to:

  • Partner in collaborative research and restoration of coastal wetlands and bays.
  • Provide student-focused education through STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics.
  • Increase knowledge of coastal environments, climate change adaptation, and human coexistence with the natural resources of San Diego Bay.

Our Team

We are a small community of staff, over 200 volunteers, more than 1000 animals and plants, and a nationwide base of partners.  Learn more about our Board of Directors.

Formerly operated by the City of Chula Vista, the Center transitioned in 2010 from a public, taxpayer-funded institution to an independent, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.  We rely on donations, memberships, and scientific and educational grants to offset costs of operations.

The Discovery Center combines first class zoo and aquarium exhibits with the birds, marine life and other living organisms that the bayfront refuge naturally supports. Check out San Diego Bay’s wildlife center today.

To view a PDF of our 2013-2014 annual report,
please click here or the image below.