Sunday, August 04, 2013

Free Fun in St. John's - Ocean Sciences Centre

It may be summer vacation, but I don't think that means the learning needs to stop. There are so many fun activities and learning-based attractions that can both keep the kids entertained and keep their minds stimulated when school is out.

A regular stop for us on our visits home to Newfoundland each summer is Memorial University's Ocean Sciences Centre. The OSC is located in Logy Bay, NL, and is home to a large number and array of researchers. During the summer months, from June 1 through the Labour Day weekend, the OSC operates a free Marine Public Education Program. This program has been running since 1988, and employs student interpreters to educate the public on sealing and marine mammal issues, the research being done at the centre, and to introduce visitors to a variety of sea creatures.

The program includes a salt water touch tank showcasing sea stars, crabs, sea cucumbers, sand dollars, and more. Student interpreters are present to supervise all interactions with these creatures and answer whatever questions visitors can throw at them. The kids love getting their hands into the tank and lifting out the inhabitants. Some are spiny, some may nip, some are slimy and slippery. All are fun! This year Little Boo learned how to tell the difference between a male and a female spider crab (there's a particular marking on the underside of the male's belly). He proceeded to sex every spider crab in the tank.

The OSC also has a captive population of harp seals, who are available for viewing in their outdoor tanks year round. (They have indoor quarters as well.) During the summer public education program though, interpreters are available daily to answer questions and tell you everything you ever wanted to know about these mammals.

I've been visiting the seals here for decades, and they are always a treat. This time around we arrived while the researchers were working with Tyler (pictured here), studying behavioural traits and reactions.

If you have a budding scientist in your family, or just a kid who'd like to get up close and personal with some marine life, this is a great place for a visit.  There are no indoor tours, but the outdoor touch tank and seal tanks are open 10am-5pm daily. This is a free activity, although there is a donation box available should you wish to contribute towards support of the OSC's work.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to know you're reading! What's on your mind?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...