Contest | We’re Searching For Sea Monsters

In honor of the new exhibit, Maritime Mysteries and Monsters, we’re searching for sea monsters! Share your photos, videos, artwork, or stories spotlighting the scary side of the sea.

One lucky winner will receive spooky ocean swag from the Museum store and two free tickets to the Museum of the Macabre Halloween Party on October 29. Last day to submit is October 15.

What can I submit?

Anything created by you that represents the scary, mysterious, or odd side of the ocean. Examples:

  • Photos (landscapes, critters, etc)
  • Videos
  • Memes
  • Poems
  • Drawings
  • Costumes

How do I submit?

Complete a submission form and upload a PDF, DOC, DOCX, PNG, JPG, JPEG, or GIF file (16MB maximum). Submissions are due by 11:59 p.m. on October 15. The winner will be announced before October 29.

What will you do with my submission?

Select submissions will be featured on social media and one winner will be selected to win a prize.

What is the prize?

A variety of spooky ocean swag from the Museum store and two free tickets to the Museum of the Macabre halloween party on October 29. If you are unable to attend the event or are under the age of 21, you will be offered a Museum Membership instead of tickets to the event.

2022 Museum of the Macabre

Thank you to the many community members who joined us for the 6th annual Museum of the Macabre! You can peruse photos from the event here.

Come in costume and imbibe cauldron-concocted cocktails while exploring the dark side of the sea. The sixth annual Museum of the Macabre delivers more than ever with freakish festivities and special exhibits outdoors and inside the Museum’s galleries. This year’s tricks and treats will explore maritime mysteries and monsters, featuring:

$20 Members | $30 General

21 and over event.
Admission includes one free drink.

Saturday, October 29, 2022
6-9 p.m.

Online sales have closed! Tickets will be available for sale at the door.


  • Dress on theme for a chance to win a costume prize! This year’s theme is Maritime Mysteries and Monsters.
  • Costumes should not be obstructive or offensive in nature.
  • Costumes should not contain sharp or pointed objects, or materials that may accidentally strike guests or exhibits.
  • Costumes should not contain any elements which resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon.

Accessibility and COVID Protocol

  • The event will occur at Tyrrell Park and inside the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History.
  • Limited number of tickets available.
  • Please follow local guidelines for COVID safety at the time of the event.
  • The Museum and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. Park festivities will be on both level and slanted grass.
  • Please leave your pets at home. Trained service animals are permitted.
  • Review more details on our Accessibility page.

Thank you to our partners!

10/22 Family Fun: Pumpkin Carving!

‘Tis the season for pumpkin carving! BYOP (bring your own pumpkin) or purchase one from us as we create nature-inspired jack-o-lanterns using templates from the natural history museum. Carving materials will be supplied, but please bring your own if possible.

This program is in support of the new exhibit, Maritime Mysteries and Monsters, on view October 4-November 6, 2022.

Saturday, October 22, 2022
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Free | Pumpkins will be available for purchase
Drop-in event, no registration required.
Location: Outside the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History


  • Drop-by anytime 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to join the fun!
  • Follow the latest guidelines for for covid safety.
  • Restrooms and water fountains are available inside the Museum.
  • Activities will be on somewhat lumpy grass.
  • BYOP (bring your own pumpkin) or purchase one from us upon your arrival (quantities limited)
  • Carving materials will be provided, but please bring your own if possible.

10/20 Listening to Oceanic Giants with MBARI

Sound travels powerfully in the sea, carrying a wealth of information about the oceanic environment and its sound-producing inhabitants. Some of this wealth has been captured in 7 years of continuous sound recordings in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This talk from John Ryan, biological oceanographer with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, will explore how this sonic window of discovery is revealing beautiful and complex dimensions of the lives of Earth’s largest animals, the great whales, as well as some of the challenges these species face.

This program is in support of the new exhibit, Maritime Mysteries and Monsters, on view October 4-November 6, 2022.

Thursday, October 20, 2022
6-7:30 p.m.

Location: Inside the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History
Free with Admission*

*Free for Members and Youth | $4 General | $2 Students and Seniors

What to Expect

  • Follow the latest guidelines for COVID safety. Masks are required at all times and space is limited.
  • The program will occur inside the Museum and we will limit the number of people who can attend so that some distancing can occur.
  • The gift shop will be open and our new exhibit Maritime Mysteries and Monsters will be on view for you to explore before and after the presentation.
  • Restrooms and water fountains are available, but there will not be any food, so please snack before coming.

About the Speaker

John Ryan received the B.S. degree in biology from the University of Massachusetts in 1988.  He worked in ocean science and terrestrial wildlife biology before pursuing graduate studies.  John received the Ph.D. degree in biological oceanography from the University of Rhode Island in 1998.  His graduate research focused on phytoplankton ecology in the northwestern Atlantic and was supported by fellowships from the Office of Naval Research and NASA.  John began a postdoctoral fellowship at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in fall 1998, working across biological and chemical oceanography research labs.  He was awarded a NASA New Investigator grant during his postdoctoral research.  Appreciating the strong science / engineering collaborations at MBARI, John remained there and is now Senior Research Specialist.  His research focus is on relationships between ecosystem processes and marine life — from plankton to whales.

Santa Cruz Sea Monsters with Geoffrey Dunn (recording)

Santa Cruz has a long history of fishing lore, including the legend of the “Old Man of the Monterey Bay.” Geoffrey Dunn is a fourth-generation member of the Santa Cruz Italian fishing colony who grew up with stories about the “Old Man” and sea monsters as a boy, which has influenced his work as journalist, filmmaker, and historian. Join us for the online talk exploring local myths and legends in honor of the exhibit, Maritime Mysteries and Monsters.

About the Speaker

Geoffrey Dunn, Ph. D., is an award-winning journalist, filmmaker and historian and has written extensively about California culture and history. He is the author of several books, including Santa Cruz Is in the Heart (Volumes I and II); The Santa Cruz Wharf: Images of AmericaChinatown Dreams: The Life and Photography of George Lee;  and The Lies of Sarah Palin. His films include Dollar a Day, 10¢ a Dance: A Historic Portrait of Filipino Farm Workers in AmericaChinese Gold: The Chinese of the Monterey Bay Region;Calypso Dreams, and The Glamour Boyz Again. He also served as the on-screen narrator of A Day on the Bay: Portrait of a Ligurian Fishing Colony. Dunn has been writing about Monterey Bay’s maritime history for more than four decades.

Cartoon by Thommy Thompson, San Francisco Call-Bulletin, 1942.