Help your students learn about whales!

NOTE:  Most programs and tours can be conducted virtually. Contact the Education Team for details.

The Museum's Exhibit Hall is a great way for schools, camps, service organizations, travel groups and large families to receive a personal introduction to the whales of the Pacific Northwest. Led by Museum educators, tours provide a unique experience that enhances your group's understanding and appreciation of whales and the marine habitat.

Arrange a visit to The Whale Museum, the first museum in the United States dedicated to whales living in the wild!

Each educational program includes a Museum Tour -- an excellent opportunity for your group to receive a personal introduction to the whales of the Salish Sea. Let our Museum educators provide a unique experience that enhances your group’s understanding and appreciation of whales and the marine habitat.

For information on Group Tours only (without one of the programs below), please visit our Group Tours page for guided and unguided tour rates.

Educational Programs

We offer a variety of educational programs for adults and students to learn more about whales, our local Orcas, and the marine ecology of the Salish Sea. Be sure and visit our "Educator Resources" page for downloadable information you can provide your children or use in your classroom.

Most programs are around 45 minutes to one hour in length (allow an additional 30 minutes for the tour):

Southern Resident Killer Whales

From an Endangered Species to a Thriving Population: During this engaging and interactive program, kids can learn about the biology, ecology, social structure, behaviors, endangered status, threats, and conservation measures surrounding our local orcas. They will learn about the federal recovery plan for these animals, then they will then be asked to take a pledge promising to do their part to help the Southern Resident Killer Whales.

Cetaceans of the Salish Sea

This program is a fundamental introduction to the natural history of whales found in the inland waters of the Salish Sea. The class begins with a slide show and continues in the Exhibit Hall of The Whale Museum with life-size models and articulated skeletons of whales. Students will also learn about under water acoustics, see whale brains, and hear different marine mammal sounds.

Acoustics Lab

This lab highlights The Whale Museum’s Acoustic Research that began in 1983 in the lighthouse at Lime Kiln Point State Park. Whenever the Orcas pass by the hydrophones (underwater microphones) in front of the lighthouse they are recorded, along with boats, ships, and anything else making under water noise.

Students learn about echolocation, the differences among Orca vocalizations, and about underwater noise and its effect on whales.

The Orca ID Lab

This is a great activity to help students understand how the Southern Resident Community of Orcas in the Salish Sea can be identified by paying attention to field characteristics and specific physical marks on each whale. The Orcas in this area are some of the best known whales in the world, especially now that they have received endangered classification under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

The Gray Whale Project

The Gray Whale Project is a popular education program at The Whale Museum that began in 1995. Students participate in engaging activities that lead them on a path of scientific discovery about gray whales and their biology, as well as the relationship between humans and whales.

Efforts to complete the skeleton stimulate discussion of comparative anatomy, marine conservation, museum techniques, mythology, environmental ethics, whaling and more. Whales are impressive and fascinating animals for students to study. For educators, whales can provide an underlying theme for the integration of whale biology with more general scientific concepts such as comparative anatomy, food webs, invertebrate biology, science technology, and oceanography.

Steller Sea Lion Lab 

The Steller Sea Lion Lab is a new addition to The Whale Museum's education programs. Funded in 2023 through a generous grant through Mitsubishi Corporation, this lab is similar to The Gray Whale Project. Students put together a full skeleton of an adult male Steller sea lion, learning about skeleton structure of pinnipeds, life history and biology of Steller sea lions, differences between sea lions and seals, as well as threats and marine conservation. As with the Gray Whale Project, participants try to deduce what happened to the animal through evidence provided by the bones as the skeleton is put together. 

Flipper Footed Friends (formerly known as Puget Pinnipeds)

Come learn about these amazing flipper-footed marine mammals at The Whale Museum. Students will understand the natural history of these animals through an interactive slide presentation, hands-on pelts and skulls, and activities. The presentation is followed by a visit to our Exhibit Hall.

Program Fees

The following programs are $75.00 for scholastic or nonprofit organizations, $100.00 for the general public:

  • Southern Resident Killer Whales: From an Endangered Species to a Thriving Population (max: 30 including chaperones, no minimum)
  • Cetaceans of the Salish Sea (max: 30 including chaperones, no minimum)
  • Flipper Footed Friends (max: 30 including chaperones, no minimum)

The following programs are $100.00 for scholastic or non-profit organizations, $125.00 for the general public:

  • Gray Whale Project (max: 30 including chaperones, no minimum)
  • Steller Sea Lion Lab (max: 30 including chaperones, no minimum)
  • Orca ID Lab (max: 30 including chaperones, no minimum)
  • Acoustics Lab, with field trip to Lime Kiln Point State Park (max: 30 including chaperones, no minimum)

Make A Reservation

Fees may be paid in advance to secure the date and time of your choice. Methods of payment accepted are Purchase Order, Online (credit card or PayPal), or check by mail.

Please contact the Education Curator, at 360-378-4710 ext. 23 or email Tracie Merrill for further information, to book your program and for payment details.

Virtual Tours

Upon request, we also offer virtual tours of our upstairs museum gallery, which includes an interactive Question and Answer session with our staff as well as a live “show and tell” of items from the Museum’s touch table, which includes whale bones, teeth and baleen.  Price scholastic: $50.00. Non scholastic: 75.00.

 Please email Tracie Merrill or call 360-378-4710 Ex 23 to arrange a virtual tour.


In addition to our formal programs, we can offer a variety of games/activities for young children, as well as older children (k-8th grade). We can customize educational programs for children to include several activities instead of formal presentations. These whale activities are intended to be highly interactive and hands-on. We recommend no more than 15 kids at one activity at a time. Two to three activities, of your choice, will fill approximately 45 minutes to one hour. Price for this program scholastic: $75.00. Non scholastic:$100.00

Here is a list of available games and activities that can be requested: 

How Big is That Whale?

Program Reference: Education/Mathematics

This activity is intended to demonstrate and compare the sizes of a variety of cetaceans, from a harbor porpoise up to a 100 ft blue whale, using a large spooled rope with tag markers. The participants walk out the rope noting each of the tag lengths and the specific marine animal that it represents. At each tag specific facts are discussed and the participants are asked to do some mathematical conversions and compare objects of similar size.


  • Working with participants’ heights, calculate how many of them it would take to equal the length of a specific whale of their interest.
  • For older students (3rd grade and up), there is a measuring and comparison worksheet that can be completed.



Program Reference: Education/Biology/Science

This activity is a hands-on way to learn the evolutionary adaptations that marine mammals have undergone in order to survive life in the sea.  Participants will be introduced to basic marine mammal biology and physiology, and compare how land mammals and marine mammals differ through representative parts (blubber, teeth/baleen, flippers, fins, blow holes, etc.). This activity can be adapted to many age groups by being more or less specific with details and explanations.


The Beautiful Blubber Experiment

This is a great extended activity to do after the Build-A-Whale activity. This activity enables participants to investigate how well blubber keeps whales warm and the importance of this adaption. Various materials are used that replicate, and demonstrate, blubber in cold water.


Echolocation Game

Program Reference: Education/Science

This activity is an opportune way for the participants to be active while learning about the mechanisms of echolocation. A game similar to “hide and seek” is played which uses only the sense of sound. Participants will gain a better understanding of the adaptations whales have developed to do echolocation. This activity can be adapted to many age groups.


A Mouthful:

Program Reference: Education/Science

This is a fun activity that replicates how baleen works by straining fine materials out of water using various objects, such as combs and tongs. It emphasizes the importance of this feeding adaptation that baleen whales have developed.


Terrible Toxins: The DDT Game

Program Reference: Education/LifeScience

This activity gets the participants moving by playing a Predator/Prey walking tag game to demonstrate food web relations, the concept of bioaccumulation, and human impact on the marine environment. Each participant plays an important role.  An in-depth discussion is held at the end with a brainstorming session on ways to keep pollutants and toxins out of the marine ecosystem. Although this activity is geared towards older students (3rd grade and up) because of the concepts involved, it can be adapted to younger audiences.


Orca Puppet Show:

Program Reference: Education/General

This is a favorite activity among children up to about 2nd to 3rd grade, combining craft creativity, imagination, and gaining knowledge about Orca behavior and physiology. Participants begin by creating and assembling their own unique Orca puppet. Working in groups of 4 to 6, participants are then given an Orca behavior chart with six Orca behaviors on it. Using this as a prompt, the groups incorporate each of these six behaviors into a skit, making their very own puppet show.


The Whale Migration Game:

Program Reference: Education/Life Science/Mathematics

Fun for all ages and hands-on, this game is a great way to introduce various whale migratory patterns, species, scientific vocabulary, limiting factors, habitats, conservation, threats, and extinctions through an active “relay” game.  The species can be varied, and the game is adaptable to many ages depending on whether or not the extended Migratory Math worksheets are included and the complexity of the information discussed.


Large Killer Whale Dorsal Fin Puzzle:

Program Reference: Education/General

Great for young children, this activity allows them to put problem-solving skills to use by putting together a large puzzle (approximately 8ft by 8ft). When these giant puzzle pieces are assembled, the life-size image of a female killer whale’s dorsal fin and back is completed!  Participants will learn about the size of killer whales, differences between male and female killer whale dorsal fins, and how dorsal fins and saddle patches help us to tell individual whales apart.  



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