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  • Writer's pictureABIGAIL SAHM

Introducing the Sahm Marine Education Center

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

A leader in hands-on education in Orange County for more than forty years, Ocean Institute will introduce shark education to its inventory of popular school and public programs in order to enrich the lives of more children as a result of a $1 million grant from the Sahm Family Foundation. This grant will make it possible for Ocean Institute to renovate an existing waterfront building to feature a Horn shark touch tank, a shark nursery, and interactive exhibits and artifacts related to sharks. The new Sahm Marine Education Center will provide hands-on, engaging educational experiences for students, teachers, parents, and the general public that connect to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) principles.

“We could not be more excited to welcome sharks to our vast collection of marine life used to teach thousands of children each year, and we are honored to earn this leadership gift from the Sahm Family Foundation,” said Michael Torcaso, Ocean Institute’s board chairman.

“This is a significant investment into our waterfront campus both in terms of improving the utilization of our facilities and expanding our educational capacity,” said Dan Pingaro, chief executive officer of Ocean Institute. “Most importantly, we will enrich the educational experience for thousands of children each year because of this grant.”

The Sahm Family Foundation has made strategic grants into Ocean Institute in the past, and family members have participated firsthand in its programs. Planning is underway to open this new education facility in early 2020 if not sooner. “Our board of directors were motivated to make this grant to Ocean Institute because we know what is being taught on their campus every day, year after year. There is no question that Ocean Institute enriches the lives of thousands of children, and that was the single most important factor in awarding this grant,” stated Chris Sahm, president of the Sahm Family Foundation.

Horn sharks are native to California coastal waters and solidary predators feeding on hard-shelled mollusks, echinoderms, crustaceans, and small fish. Horn sharks are harmless to humans. “We are excited to connect students with hands-on interactions with these fascinating creatures. Horn sharks are able to survive and breed in captivity, which provides us with an ideal opportunity to showcase their lifecycles, behaviors, and important role in our local ecosystem. Increased shark sightings in Southern California waters has stimulated curiosity and fear of these local predators. Providing public access to an innocuous member of the shark family is a safe and engaging way to educate students about all sharks,” stated Dr. Wendy Marshall, vice president of education for Ocean Institute.

Learn more about Ocean Institute at

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