BMSC Live – Virtual Experiences

“BMSC during COVID”

It’s been over a year since the education programming offered here at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre came to an abrupt halt as the world around us paused as well.

Take a journey with us, and discover what has been happening at the “BMSC during COVID”.

Produced by Owen Newson, Marine Sciences Educator

Engage your students with BMSC Live – online marine science programming!

Although the BMSC campus is currently closed to students and visitors, you can still experience a virtual field trip; it’s the next best thing to being here!

Sure, we know it’s not the same as holding that sea cucumber in your own hands, but we’ve been hard at work finding ways to go digital. Our enthusiastic educators can guide you through your choice of our most popular labs or field trips, delivered right to your home or classroom. Even boat trips are possible! Read on to learn how it’s done and how you can still experience your own Bamfield “trip”.

Our Education Team are providing online virtual field trips for middle school and high school classrooms, universities, and community groups. Choose a subject that aligns with your group’s specific learning needs, and we will create a custom field trip just for you. Popular topics include marine invertebrates, plankton, beach visits, even a ride on the MV Alta. Check out the sample clips below and our YouTube channel to see some of our past offerings.

Virtual sessions are typically 45-60 minutes in length, and are designed to be interactive and informative, almost like being here! Programs start at $150/session for K-12 and post-secondary schools, and $200/session for private adult groups. If you are a K-12 teacher at a Canadian school, we encourage you to contact to find out if your class is eligible to receive your first show free!

That was fantastic – I could see how excited my students were – I think we were getting more than 3 – 5 questions per minute, for almost the entire program! They were engaged, interested, curious, and I saw a lot of “wow” and “whoa” for so many features – so valued right now during our COVID remote instruction module! A highlight for this Marine Biology course, for sure! Thank you!

“I hadn’t expected that these videos would turn out so well or that students would get so involved whilst viewing. It really is the next best thing to taking students out to BMSC. I really appreciate all the work that went into making these videos!”

“Just AWESOME! You worked so well as a team and I just loved when we asked a question that poof! An answer, a video, a picture, a zoom in….whole package deal. Just awesome and I would definitely recommend this! It attached the curriculum so well!”

BMSC Live Programming Options

With recent upgrades to cell and wifi capabilities on and around the BMSC campus, we can now broadcast content from nearly all of our favourite lab and field locations. For example, did you know you can still “visit” Brady’s Beach? Our Educators can take you there, sharing all the usual sights, sounds, and science. Choose from one of the topics below (with more topics being developed regularly), or request your own custom programming!

Marine Invertebrate Diversity – Lab

Students will explore the diversity of live marine invertebrates found in Barkley Sound. This activity can be tailored to any age or interest level. Sessions start by examining characteristics of invertebrates vs. vertebrates and an introduction to classification systems of living things. Then the focus is all about the unique characteristics and adaptations that help our most common west coast species thrive.

Watch a previous Invertebrate Diversity lab on BMSC Live!

Sensational Seaweeds – Lab / Field trip

Did you know there are over 600 species of macroalgae on the West Coast? This lab focuses on the identification, ecology, and human uses of a selection of those species. With live specimens in the lab, students can practice identification, discover the role of algae in the marine food web, and find out why kelp (big brown algae) can be vital to human survival! This lab is a valuable addition for anyone who wants to learn more about species diversity. Reproduction and life cycles of algae can be included.

Depending on tides, this activity may be available as a field excursion

Oceanography 101 – Field Trip

Take a boat ride with us and experience being an oceanographer! Bamfield Inlet provides the backdrop for an examination of the biotic and abiotic characteristics of the ocean. Get familiar with an oceanographer’s tools for measuring temperature, salinity, turbidity, pH, and collecting plankton. Contribute to citizen science by adding your ocean data to our ongoing multi-year study.

Watch a previous episode of Oceanography 101!

The Big World of Plankton – Lab

This lab is an eye-opening experience demonstrating the diversity of tiny lifeforms suspended in ocean water.  A brief lecture focuses on types of plankton, the biology of major groups, and how plankton plays a role in our lives (Red Tide, bioluminescence, oxygen production). Then, equipped with microscopes able to broadcast their field of view to a digital audience, we explore the often underappreciated world of plankton. Each new drop of seawater holds something different!

Check out Plankton Part 1 & Part 2 episodes!

Temperate Rainforest Ecology – Field Trip

Experience a guided walk in the coastal temperate rainforest. Our forest path meanders through old growth before entering into second growth, allowing students to compare the two. The biology of many plants, fungi, mosses, ferns, shrubs, and trees is discussed with an emphasis on traditional cultural uses (ethnobotany). Culturally modified trees along the path illustrate how First Nations people harvest from trees. For AP classes, quantitative studies using biodiversity indices can be done here. 

Alta Adventure! – Field Trip

This boat ride to the Deer Group Islands on the MV Alta gives you a chance to see the subtidal life around Bamfield. Using a small dredge net, we sample from the sea floor in search of a wide diversity of organisms, including sea stars, urchins, crabs, sea cucumbers, and many others you wont see at the beach.

Please note there is an additional cost for this field trip.

A high seas adventure – check it out!

Life Under the Docks! – Field Trip

The Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre is located on the doorstep of the Pacific Ocean, and an amazing array of creatures can be found right underneath our docks. Our educators will use an underwater camera to show you the diversity of intertidal and subtidal species who make Bamfield Inlet their home.

View a previous episode of “What’s living under the docks”!

Live from Brady’s Beach, featuring tidepools! – Field Trip

Brady’s Beach, with its picturesque sea stacks, sandy and rocky shores, is a wonderful place to explore the intertidal zone. Exploring this beach gives an opportunity to see the organisms in their natural environment. Brady’s Beach is an ideal site to conduct quantitative and qualitative studies, for example, tide pool studies involve mapping, estimating volume, and observing organismal interactions.

*Availability of LIVE programming is tide-dependent.

Join our exploration of Brady’s Beach tidepools!

Live from Eagle Bay! – Field Trip

Eagle Bay is a semi-exposed rocky shore where students can observe a diversity of intertidal animals and seaweeds in their natural habitat. Some organisms inhabiting only areas of high wave exposure, such as gooseneck barnacles, can be found here. Our educators will guide you to explore under rocks, show you how to gently handle the animals, and we hope you’ll ask lots of questions as we search for fun finds on the beach.

*Availability of LIVE programming is tide-dependent.

Intertidal life at Eagle Bay! 

Kelp Forest Ecology – Lab

Do you think kelp is little more than an annoyance? That slimy, smelly stuff that wraps around your ankles as you wade into the ocean? Think again! This lab is geared to change your mind as we introduce you to some of the many species of invertebrates, fish, and mammals that make kelp forests home. You’ll even find out why these big brown seaweeds are important for human survival (yes, even if you live far from the ocean)! Find out how in this lab-based session, featuring live invertebrates, a bit of chemistry, and stunning video of the underwater environment captured by BMSC’s very own dive team.


Field Trip to Brady’s Beach

Join us for an intertidal exploration of Brady’s Beach!

YouTube link

Mud monsters from the deeps!

Join us on an Alta Adventure as we dredge from the deepest part of Barkley Sound searching for curious organisms that live in the muddy depths!

Invertebrates expert, Dr. Marjorie Wonham, will be joining us remotely to help identify these unique and rarely seen organisms!

YouTube link

Life between the tides

This week, #BMSCLive goes to Eagle Bay in search of new creatures! Join us to discover which sneaky animals are hiding under the rocks, beneath the seagrass, or in plain sight, as they wait for the tide to turn.

An early show time of 11:00 am PDT, is because, as many of our past students know, “The Tide Waits For No One”!

Stuck on you! What’s living under the docks?

Join us for a look at subtidal communities. This week, we explore what has settled onto the anchors and lines under our docks. We will take a fish’s eye view by sending a camera under water to observe marine life in its natural habitat.

YouTube link


Join us as we travel up Grappler Inlet and experience being an oceanographer! Help us collect data for our multi-year study.

Take a look at the Plankton show on our Youtube Channel if you want to discover plankton up close and personal, and find out what happens next!

YouTube link

Alta adventure on the high seas, Part II!

The BMSC dive team wishes they could take all of you underwater with them but we have the next best thing… Presenting Alta Adventure: Part 2!!!! Using a dredge, we’ll be able to bring all of the neat subtidal species up to the surface so we can show them off through a livestream. Join us to discover lots of unique marine species alongside our marine science educators! Last dredge we focused on the more common organisms; this show will highlight and explore rare species and biodiversity.


Peculiar Plankton!

If you enjoyed our #BMSClive:Plankton show, you’re going to love Plankton Part II – Peculiar Plankton!

While the first show covered the basics of plankton and our more common suspects, this show will uncover the more unusual and rare species!


Alta adventure on the high seas!

Today, we’ll be heading out on the MV Alta to collect some cool creatures from the bottom of the ocean!


Fishy Fun!

Our Marine Science Educators describe the life stories and feeding the fish that live in our display tanks at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre.


Interesting Invertebrates!

There’s a whole world of wonder under the water! Join us while we explore the wonderful and wacky world of marine invertebrates


While BMSC remains operational with essential staff, we are exploring opportunities to provide new spring/summer course additions and BMSC Live experiences, offered via online teaching and learning, to provide more students with the opportunity to continue progressing through their programs during these times.

We acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).