The National Marine Life Center is an independent, non-profit (501(c)3) organization established to help care for stranded marine animals and to educate the public about marine wildlife health and rehabilitation. Rescued marine animals are studied, rehabilitated and released.

Stranding of sea turtles (including the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle), dolphins, seals, whales, and porpoises is not uncommon here on Cape Cod, and the National Marine Life Center has been busy helping marine life since 2014.

When you enter the National Marine Life Center, you will find yourself in the Marine Animal Discovery Center, a large open room that is adjacent to the veterinary care building. You cannot see any of the animals at the facility in person, but you can view them on the closed circuit television in the discovery center.


There is a giant tub with stuffed sea animals that kids can take care of with toy stethoscopes and other veterinary equipment. There are several scavenger hunts, a sand play area, and coloring activities. I love that they have a table where you can make get well cards for the wildlife currently being rehabilitated at the facility.

In terms of the age range for the center for children, I would say probably around 2-8 would enjoy the activities the most. Toddlers can enjoy the coloring and other activities, but you might have to keep a closer eye on them with some of the other exhibits. 🙂


The center is open Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day, 10-5 daily, then weekends through Columbus Day, in addition to school vacation week! Admission to the National Marine Life Center is FREE, though donations are GREATLY appreciated. If you have a marine life lover in your family, I would definitely check out the gift shop!

The discovery center is a great place to learn about what the National Marine Life Center does and its many patients.

Drop-in and Scheduled Programs

The National Marine Center has a number of programs that you can schedule at their location or your own. You can see the list HERE. There are also drop-in programs that are occasionally scheduled during other times like school vacation weeks.

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