The Joseph M. Long Marine Laboratory has long been at the forefront of marine research. Opened in 1978, the UCSC-affiliated center is set on a bluff overlooking the rich natural laboratory of Monterey Bay, called the “Serengeti of the Sea” for its diversity of marine life. Complementing the laboratory's mission to advance knowledge of the marine environment, the 20,000-square-foot Seymour Marine Discovery Center opened in 2000 to educate the public about the bay and the process of scientific research. Carefully designed to resemble a lab rather than a traditional museum, the center's hands-on exhibits delve into specific research projects while colorfully answering such questions as "what is science?" and "why is science important?" Aquariums and touch tanks facilitate up-close encounters with marine life, and an 87-foot blue whale skeleton—one of the largest in the world—soars majestically outside.