Thursday, June 5, 2014

Touching the life of Narragansett Bay

Jennifer Packard
Communications Intern


The plant life and creatures of Narragansett Bay continue to delight and educate visitors of Save The Bay’s Exploration Center & Aquarium, which overlooks Easton’s Beach in Newport. The Center is a dazzling showcase of hundreds of creatures that call Narragansett Bay home. It is circular with tanks containing different types of sea life that kids, as well as adults, can get close to and touch.

Smooth dog fish sharks
One of the main attractions is the dogfish tank, a large pool housing two or three of these shark relatives, as well as crabs and fish. Adults enjoy peering over the tank at eye level with these sleek creatures, while kids excitedly stand on stairs and outstretch their arms to feel the creatures’ skin as they swim by. It is a joy to watch visitors’ faces as the sharks sense their presence, dancing back and forth in front of them. 

Kate Hamilton started as an intern at the Center last week and already loves her job. “My favorite part is working with the little kids," she explains. 

It is quite obvious that each staff member at the Exploration Center enjoys what they do to help educate people and form connections between the public and the sea life of Narragansett Bay. 

Meg, an Exploration Center employee, also explains what she loves about working here. “I feel like I got really lucky to have gotten a job here. [Right now] I’m feeding the sea horses because they don’t have any stomachs.”  
Visitors to the Center can touch live skates

She explained that the graceful sea horses were related to the long, thin Pipe Fish swimming alongside them, and that in both species the males carry the babies and do much of the work to care for them. 

Throughout the day, I found that each staff member was highly informed about the species that they care for, and are always happy and available to answer any questions.

Another part of the Exploration Center that people love is its collaboration with schools. Teachers can schedule visits and have expressed their love of taking their students to the Exploration Center over the years. 

Theresa Spelgler, owner of the Silveira Kindergarten & Nursery School in Middletown, shared what she loved about the Center. “It’s hands-on and the kids can visually look, touch, and learn. The staff does a great job. We love coming here and we’ve been coming here for years."   
A juvenile skate living with seahorses

Local residents also take advantage of what the Center has to offer.

Deb, a patron who has been bringing her 15-year-old daughter, Emily, to the Exploration Center for quite some time, loves the highly interactive quality of the place. “It’s all hands-on. I’ve learned so much I didn’t know before.” 

Emily agrees. “The thing I like about the Exploration Center is you can get up close and, if you have a question, there are people here to talk to. It’s not just reading along by yourself.”

- Jennifer

Jennifer Packard is studying creative writing at Rhode Island College

The Exploration Center & Aquarium is open daily 10a.m. - 4p.m. through Labor Day.

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