Put-in-Bay, OH Tours, science programs, and a bit of treasure hunting around Put-in-Bay will give families a variety of ways to explore history and learn more about Lake Erie this summer. Ohio Sea Grant opens its doors to summer visitors to give them a closer look at Stone Laboratory, the Aquatic Visitors Center, and the South Bass Island Lighthouse, all operated by Ohio State University.
"Research, education, and outreach are the cornerstones of Ohio Sea Grant," points out Stone Lab Manager Matt Thomas. "Our visitor activities allow fresh research information to be passed from the scientists to the public in exciting ways that engage visitors with Lake Erie."
Visitors can learn about the Lake Erie research taking place at Stone Lab on Gibraltar Island, Ohio State’s island campus on Lake Erie, during weekly Science and History Tours of the island offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Wednesday, June 20-August 15. Groups take guided tours of the island and see the exterior of the historic Cooke Castle, which was built in 1865 as a summer home for Civil War Financier Jay Cooke. Groups will also see Perry’s Lookout, the glacial grooves, and Stone Lab buildings.
To reach Gibraltar, visitors should meet at the Boardwalk Restaurant Harbor Taxi Landing on South Bass Island by 10:30 a.m. and catch a water taxi for a round-trip cost of $6. Tours are provided on a first-come, first-served basis, with a maximum of 75 people. A $10 tour fee for adults and $5 for children supports Stone Lab student scholarships. For an additional $10, participants can order boxed lunches to enjoy after their tour.
The Aquatic Visitors Center (AVC), located a mile west of downtown Put-In-Bay, offers an up-close look at Lake Erie science. Families can inspect Lake Erie’s complex ecosystem through hands-on displays, observe and identify live fish in aquaria, and learn about current Lake Erie research. Children under age 16 can fish from the pier, and Saturday programs introduce kids to science. 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/visit/avc.
"The Aquatic Visitors Center gives you a unique opportunity to get face-to-face with live Lake Erie creatures as well as historical hatchery artifacts, hands-on displays, and access to the fishing pier," says Tory Gabriel, Ohio Sea Grant Extension Educator. "Fishing rods will be available on loan, and bait will be provided. It’s great for families and anyone who loves the lake and wants to learn more about it."
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.
Visitors will have the opportunity to tour the South Bass Island Lighthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, June 18-August 14. For $3, visitors can climb the stairs to take in a great view of Lake Erie and the islands. Visitors also learn about Ohio’s geological past and Lake Erie’s current ecosystem and research issues.
To learn more about the tours, contact the Stone Lab Bayview Office at 419.285.1800 or visit stonelab.osu.edu/tripsandtours/island-tours. Ohio State University owns and manages Gibraltar Island and the South Bass Island Lighthouse, and operates the AVC through a partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
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. For information on Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.