Article By: Matthew Forte, Published: April 16, 2012
PUT-IN-BAY, OH— Summer tourists at Put-in-Bay can swing out to the west side of town to drop a line in Lake Erie, and get a close-up view of Lake Erie’s fishes and interactive exhibits at Ohio State University’s Aquatic Visitors Center.
Located a mile west of downtown Put-in-Bay, the Aquatic Visitors Center (AVC) lets visitors experience Lake Erie science through up-close and hands-on exhibits that include several native Lake Erie fish and invasive species like Asian carp. Families can inspect Lake Erie’s complex ecosystem through displays, observe fish and other Lake Erie inhabitants in large aquaria, and learn about current Lake Erie research
Children under age 16 can borrow equipment and fish from the pier, free of charge. The center is open 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, June 20–August 18 and admission is free. For more information about the AVC, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu/avc.
“Lake Erie is a largely important resource to our region, and provides tons of opportunities for people to enjoy the outdoors,” says Tory Gabriel, Ottawa County Extension Educator. “The Aquatic Visitors Center is one of those opportunities. Visitors should stop by get their kids excited about fishing and science, and they have the chance to ask our expert staff any questions you’ve ever had about Lake Erie. There’s something for everybody at the AVC.”
Visitors can learn about the AVC’s history as the State Fish Hatchery at Put-in-Bay from 1907 through 1988 and see hatching jars, raceways, and other artifacts from those days. Currently operated by Ohio Sea Grant, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife, the hatchery raised a variety of fish species, including walleye, sauger, whitefish, herring, yellow perch, coho salmon, chinook salmon, and steelhead.
Also at the AVC, visitors can search for a geocache, a small hidden container with its coordinates available online. Nearly 100 people have plugged the coordinates into their GPS or smartphone and tracked down the container, which holds a finders’ log and some assorted prizes that are free to the finders. Coordinates for the AVC cache are available at go.osu.edu/cachesite.
“The Aquatic Visitors Center is probably our largest outreach venue during the high traffic tourist season reaching more than 10,000 island visitors each year,” says Kristin Stanford, Stone Lab Outreach and Education Coordinator. “What a fantastic way to get the word out about all the great things Ohio Sea Grant is doing.”
In 1992, ODNR Division of Wildlife converted the hatchery building to the Aquatic Visitors Center—an educational facility to bring history, fishing information, and hands-on activities to the public. Ohio Sea Grant took over management of the center in 2009, continuing to teach the next generation about the importance of protecting Lake Erie.
Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 32 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. Ohio State University owns and manages Gibraltar Island and the South Bass Island Lighthouse, and operates the AVC through a partnership with the ODNR, Division of Wildlife. For information on Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu and for more information about ODNR Division of Wildlife at dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife.
Stone Laboratory’s Bayview Office at 419.285.1800.
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