The Living Coast Discovery Centre – San Diego’s Hidden Gem

The Living Coast Discovery Centre is one of San Diego's hidden gems.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Living Coast Discovery Centre is one of San Diego’s hidden gems. Image: Jamie D’Souza

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Living Coast Discovery Centre – San Diego’s hidden gem.

San Diego is known for various things, including its pristine beaches, a world-famous zoo, family-friendly theme parks, and more. One hidden gem that can be found in San Diego is the Living Coast Discovery Centre, an environmental education center with marine animals and bird exhibits. Contrary to the San Diego Zoo, which houses over 4000 animals from all over the world, the animals found at the Living Coast Discovery Centre are native to the San Diego area.  

The Living Coast Discovery Centre is a non-profit zoo and aquarium within the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. This area stretches over 12,300 acres from the city of Jamul to communities in Spring Valley and eastern Chula Vista. For over 30 years, the Living Coast Discovery Centre has reached thousands of visitors and helped educate them about the local wildlife.

Within the Living Coast Discovery Centre, visitors have a chance to see an Atlantic Sea Turtle and a Loggerhead Sea Turtle, animals found in San Diego’s watersheds (including lobsters, octopuses, and iguanas), sharks and rays, owls and hawks, shorebirds, and bald and golden eagles. At different times during the day, the Discovery Centre has presentations and feedings with animal ambassadors who will teach visitors about the species.  

The Living Coast Discovery Centre also has a native pollinator garden made up of plants native to coastal San Diego County. Throughout the garden are tips and tricks on how to create your own pollinator garden. The Living Coast Discovery Centre offers compost workshops in their Compost Garden to teach people how to use their food waste and reduce their carbon footprint. The compost in their Compost Garden is also used to grow some of the vegetables they feed the animals in the center. 

As an education center, the Living Coast Discovery Centre is important in conserving many local species. The Living Coast Discovery Centre is part of Team Clapper Rail, composed of organizations dedicated to studying, restoring, and introducing rails in Southern California. The light-footed Ridgwa’s rail is a state and federally-listed endangered species found only in Southern California and northern Baja California, Mexico. The loss and degradation of their habitats due to coastal development threaten this bird. The efforts taken by Team Clapper Rail have helped over 900 rails to be zoologically propagated and introduced into the wild since 2000.  

Another success has been their Western Burrowing Owl Recovery Program. These birds are at risk due to habitat loss and degradation. In collaboration with the San Diego Zoo Global, they are working to increase the San Diego population of Burrowing owls with conservation breeding projects. The owl groups produced from conservation breeding are gradually released into the natural habitat to support the establishment of the first recovery node for burrowing owls in San Diego County.  

Additionally, the two sea turtles found at the Living Coast Discovery Centre were both rescued after having been hit by boats, causing damage to their shells. Without the efforts taken by the Discovery Centre, the turtles would not have survived very much longer in the wild due to the damage. 

The Living Coast Discovery Centre is a fun, educational experience to see and learn about local San Diego animals. The Living Coast Discovery Centre team is extremely knowledgeable about the animals, and the animals are very well taken care of. The Living Coast Discovery Centre puts the environment first to encourage visitors to help protect the environment, which will affect the animals that live in the wild. If you’re ever in the San Diego area, the Living Coast Discovery Centre is a must-see destination for your visit.  

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