Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Marine Lab at RMSC

We spent one last morning at Roper Mountain Science Center’s Butterfly Adventure. The exhibit will close with this month’s Second Saturday event, the Blueberry Festival: All Things Blueberry! We lucked out with a short line, spent some time with the monarchs & swallowtails, and then headed over to the Marine Lab at the other end of the Harrison Hall of Natural Science.

As doors to the building are only open to visitors during special events and Second Saturdays, a weekday visit to the Marine Lab is a special treat. Not only are there dozens of ocean animals for the kids to interact with, but the aquariums lining the walls are full of wonders, and exhibits provide visitors with an opportunity to discover the many organisms that inhabit our oceans.

We immediately headed to the sink to wash our hands, and then to the tide pool tank. These touch tanks are home to stingrays, horseshoe crabs and a sea snail. All three boys (and mom!) had the opportunity to ‘pet’ a stingray – surprisingly sponge-like, as opposed to the slick surface I expected. We then played peekaboo with the crabs…

The six aquaria were a never-ending movie of movement and color, and although the tropical fish held the boys’ interest for some time, the sea turtles were probably their favorites.

We explored the seashore ecosystem through the giant mural, and then wondered over the hawksbill turtle display. Mikus had some fun with the ocean observation buoy, learning about these instruments through the touch screen information center. We even took a look at the research vessel, a work station utilized by students on field trips.

Although the Marine Lab will not be open daily anymore once Butterfly Adventure ends, it is always open during Second Saturdays. The display near the door alone is worth the visit; hundreds of dried specimens of marine organisms including sponges, sea stars, crabs, corals, fossils and more make for a fascinating exploration of life under the sea – without getting your toes wet. Hopefully you’ll be getting your hands wet (do stop in and meet the manta!), so as Roper Mountain Science Center says, “come sea for yourself” what the Marine Lab is all about!

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