For Learners

Observe. Understand. Participate.

The writer, John Steinbeck, and marine biologist, Ed Ricketts, made observations about the world around them. Making observations, and discussing them together, allowed them to gain a deep understanding about nature and human communities. Steinbeck and Ricketts also valued participation. They went beyond observing and understanding the communities around them. They got involved.

The Western Flyer Foundation invites you to follow in the footsteps of Steinbeck and Ricketts. Check back here for ways to make observations, to deeply understand, and to fully participate in the world around you!


Student History Slam 2022

Steinbeck and Ricketts thought a lot about communities. Human communities, like the hard-working farmers in Salinas Valley, and animal communities, like the vibrant invertebrates that live in tide-pools, were common themes in their writing and research. 

One way to understand and participate in your community is to learn about its history. The Western Flyer Foundation and its partners are hosting the second annual Student History Slam on Saturday, April 30, 2022. Register to view this year’s History Slam

Intertidal Zone Bioblitz


In 1940, John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts chartered a purse seiner, the Western Flyer, for a 6-week expedition to the Sea of Cortez. They captured and catalogued marine invertebrates (animals without backbones) at 21 different sites along their route. In 1941, the two friends published Sea of Cortez, a narrative account of their journey and a “phyletic catalogue”of all the species they found. The catalogue includes 484 species of marine invertebrates!

This summer, the Western Flyer Foundation invites you to take an expedition to your local coastline to catalogue and identify as many marine invertebrates as you can using iNaturalistFor more information and a field guide, please visit the Intertidal Zone Bioblitz Portal. 

Sea of Cortez Coloring Book

Print and enjoy this coloring book about two friends, John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts, and their journey to the Sea of Cortez on the Western Flyer.

Imprima y disfrute este libro para colorear sobre dos amigos, John Steinbeck y Ed Ricketts, y su viaje al Mar de Cortés a bordo del Western Flyer.