Last Updated on October 7, 2020
Did you know you can get your ocean travel fix with webcams from aquariums, reefs, and zoos around the world? Take a virtual field trip from the comfort of home with these aquarium live feeds of tropical reefs, jellyfish, penguins, sharks, manatees and more. (Spoiler: be sure to scroll all the way through, since I saved the sea otters for last!)
Perfect for homeschooling, travelers in-between trips, shark week fans, kids who love ocean life, or anyone who needs some zen right now. Be sure to bookmark or pin it for later, and share these aquarium live feeds with anyone who needs a virtual field trip! Don’t miss the bonus section at the end of this article with ocean distance learning resources for educators and parents (click here to jump to the ocean education resource list).
Virtual Field Trips: Aquarium Live Feeds, Coral Reefs and Sea Life Webcams
Note: some feeds might show highlights at night time or a dark screen or when exhibits are closed. Be sure to check back during daylight hours for the webcam’s time zone!
Tropical Reef Camera: Field Trip to Aquarium of the Pacific
First on our aquarium virtual field trip: the Aquarium of the Pacific! The Tropical Reef Habitat is the largest exhibit (over 350,000 gallons of water!) at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California USA. It’s modeled after the reef system in the Blue Corner, one of the most famous and bio-diverse dive sites on earth. The Blue Corner is located in Palau, a nation of over 500 islands in Micronesia.
Penguin Habitat (Underwater): Aquarium of the Pacific
The underwater penguin exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific features Magellanic penguins, some of which were rescued from Brazil where they were stranded outside their native habitat. Identify the penguins by the color-coded tag on their wings and learn about their personalities by visiting the aquarium’s Penguin Guide. (Delightfully, one is named Admiral Fancy Pants!)
Jellyfish Cam: Monterey Bay Aquarium
Next on our virtual field trip, we head over to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California. This mesmerizing live feed is from the Pacific Sea Nettles exhibit here. While they look peaceful, the graceful tentacles of these jellyfish paralyze their prey. Their tentacles can be 12-15 feet long, and they’re found in coastal waters off Alaska to California, Japan, Kamchatka, the Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea.
Kansas City Zoo Field Trip: Penguin Cam
Our virtual aquarium field trip takes us next to the Kansas City Zoo. This zoo has been home to king penguins since 2013 in its Helzberg Penguin Plaza, but this is the first year they’ve had any hatchlings from eggs laid by their penguins! The exhibit contains more than 100,000 gallons of salt water and two ice flake machines to produce three inches of snowfall each day.
Shedd Aquarium: Underwater Beauty
No virtual aquarium field trip would be complete without a stop at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago! Relax with their “Underwater Beauty” exhibit with angelfishes, wrasses, tangs and butterflyfishes. (I’ve included more educational resources from Shedd at the end of my article.)
Coral City Camera: Miami, Florida
Let’s travel next to Florida, where an underwater camera features a livestream of an urban reef off the coast of Miami. The Coral City Camera provides a fish-eye view into the urban marine ecosystem that has developed around the human-made shorelines of Miami.
Homosassa Springs Virtual Field Trip: Manatee Cam
No virtual aquarium field trip would be complete without manatees! This manatee cam is from Homosassa Springs, Florida, which manatees use as a warm water shelter from mid-November to late March each year. The rest of the year, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is home to rehabilitated manatees; current residents include Ariel, Betsy and Electra.
If you’re interested in visiting Florida to see manatees in person, check out my guide to Crystal River and Homosassa with tips on how to find a responsible tour for interacting with these amazing creatures!
Kelp Forest Virtual Field Trip: Channel Islands National Park Cam
The next peaceful stop on our virtual field trip is courtesy of the National Park Service. This webcam live streams a kelp forest from Anacapa Island off the coast of California. Kelp forests are rich in biodiversity with hundreds of resident marine species. The undulating kelp and fish that swim by also make for a very soothing live feed!
Shark Lagoon Cam: Aquarium of the Pacific
It’s shark week every week at this next stop on our virtual aquariums tour! The 10,000 square foot Shark Lagoon at Aquarium of the Pacific features a live webcam. Inhabitants include sand tiger, zebra and white tip sharks.
Cape Fear Virtual Field Trip: Shark Cam
The next shark stop on our virtual field trip is from a live underwater cam beneath the Frying Pan Tower, 34 miles off the coast of Cape Fear, North Carolina. The tower is now obsolete, having been built in the in the 1960s to warn ships of the shallow waters nearby. While the tower is no longer used for its original purpose due to the development of GPS navigation, it remains an important habitat for sharks, fish, and other marine wildlife.
Open Sea Cam: Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Open Sea is the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s largest exhibit. Watch long enough and you can see yellowfin tuna, hammerhead sharks, pelagic stingrays, green sea turtles, dolphinfish (mahi mahi) and schools of Pacific sardines. Be sure to tune in every weekday at 11AM (Pacific) for a narrated feeding time.
Wrasse and Anthias: Aquarium of the Pacific
This virtual aquarium webcam is one of the most active and colorful live feeds, from the anthias and wrasses exhibit in the Tropical Pacific Gallery at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Monterey Bay Live Cam Field Trip
This live feed offers a view of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s ocean view decks and relaxing sounds of the surf. From here, you can see bird and sea mammals like black cormorants, harbor seals and sea otters. It’s part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, a federally protected marine area offshore of California’s central coast.
Beluga Boat Field Trip: Manitoba, Canada
This live feed will resume in July, but it’s worth watching the highlights until then! Every summer, nearly 60,000 beluga whales travel from the Arctic to the warmer waters of the Churchill River in Manitoba, Canada. This live underwater cam is situated on the Beluga Boat, where you can get a whale’s eye view of belugas swimming, eating and nursing their calves.
Rubbing Beach Underwater Orca Cam
In British Columbia, more than 150 orca whales spend their summer in Johnstone Strait at Blackfish Sound. This camera lets you watch up close as these whales exhibit something unique to this group: they like to rub their bellies against the smooth pebbles of the beach!
ReefCam from Nature Conservancy Australia
This livefeed features an underwater view of the rocky reef in Port Philip Bay, off the coast of Melbourne, Australia. The camera is solar powered, so it shows highlights when offline.
Moon Jelly Cam: Monterey Bay Aquarium Field Trip
Need a little more zen? Check out the webcam from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s exhibit of greater Pacific moon jellies.
Sea Otter Cam: Monterey Bay Aquarium Field Trip
I’ve saved the cutest for last on this virtual aquarium field trip: sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium! There are currently 5 in residence, including Abby, Ivy, Rosa, Kit and Selka. All are rescued and unable to be returned to the wild, but they often serve as surrogate moms for rescued pups. Find out more about their stories and cheeky personalities here and tune in every weekday at 1:30PM (Pacific) for a narrated feeding time.
Bonus Aquarium Field Trip Stop: Otters at the Vancouver Aquarium
Bonus Aquarium Field Trip Stop: Ocean Voyager Webcam
Hop over to the website of the Georgia Aquarium to see their Ocean Voyager exhibit, which contains rays, whale sharks, green sea turtles and many other forms of aquatic life. While you’re there, be sure to check out their southern sea otters and California sea lions webcams.
Bonus Stop: National Aquarium Blacktip Reef Exhibit
Visit the website of the National Aquarium in Baltimore Maryland to see the livefeed of their Blacktip Reef exhibit, a recreation of an Indo-Pacific reef, as well as their Pacific Coral Reef and Sea Nettles exhibits.
Ocean Education Resources for Educators, Parents & Others
Looking for more resources for developing lesson plans or distance learning experiences centered on aquatic life and the world’s oceans? Check out this resource list!
- The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut is currently streaming education programs for families each week – register in advance to get the free links. They also offer paid distance learning sessions for schools.
- The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) has many online educational resources suitable for different age groups. Be sure to check out their lesson plans, ocean exploration facts, educational materials by theme and fun Octonauts Corner with coloring pages and information for younger explorers.
- The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts has resources for K-12 students and teachers including teacher workshops, classroom activities, online expeditions, marine careers and more.
- The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago has been hosting tons of online educational sessions while the aquarium is closed. Check out the Shedd Aquarium Facebook page for what’s coming up next including free Facebook Live sessions and paid virtual “summer camps.” Plus, catch up on all their past Penguin Tours here – when their penguins Wellington, Annie, Edward and others tour the aquarium – and all of their educational Shedd Stay Home sessions.
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium has courses with full lesson plans to support learning at home for pre-K through grade 12, in both English and Spanish. They also have information resources on ocean animals.
- The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has online resources in its Ocean Portal Educators’ Corner. You can search lesson plans by grade level and lesson subject or explore their Ocean Portal for more online resources.
- The Ocean Exploration Trust and its Nautilus exploration program have education resources online. Check out the different education themes or browse by resource type including learning modules, mini-lessons, activities, games and coloring pages. Learn more about its expeditions here.
- The Georgia Aquarium is hosting online events for kids like story time and learning sessions – find their events calendar here and check out their Facebook page.
- Watch past videos from Reefs Go Live and get teacher resources to accompany each lesson..
- Check out National Geographic’s Ocean Education resources online for activities by age group.
- Explore a marine life encyclopedia from Oceana.org.
- The Living Oceans Foundation has a list of e-learning resources for grades K-12.
- PBS’s Jean-Michel Cousteau has online Ocean Adventure resources targeted mainly toward middle school students.
- The New England Aquarium is offering virtual visit resources with at-home projects and video presentations. They also have paid virtual animal encounters for groups via Zoom, including their penguin and marine mammal exhibits.
- Take a virtual field trip to the coral reefs of Palau with the Nature Conservancy. Includes a teacher guide.
- Explore the Sea Life Sydney aquarium virtually with videos, activities and more.
- Grab a sharks animal research freebie from We Pay Teachers.
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