Put-in-Bay, OH Travelers to Put-in-Bay now have even more choices in how they spend their time exploring western Lake Erie, as Ohio Sea Grant’s tourism facilities officially open their doors for the summer. Through the Aquatic Visitor Center, the South Bass Island Lighthouse, and tours of Gibraltar Island and Stone Laboratory, visitors can experience Lake Erie science and history in a fun and educational atmosphere.
"Research, education, and outreach are the cornerstones of Ohio Sea Grant," explains Stone Lab Manager Matt Thomas. "Our visitor activities allow up-to-date research information to be passed from the scientists to the public in exciting ways that engage visitors with Lake Erie."
The Aquatic Visitor Center at Put-in-Bay is operated by Ohio Sea Grant and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. Housed in a historic fish hatchery, the AVC gives visitors a close-up look at Lake Erie fishes and other inhabitants, and lets families learn about current Lake Erie research through displays and interactive exhibits.
“Lake Erie is an 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, where visitors have the chance to ask our expert staff any questions they’ve ever had about Lake Erie.”?
Children under age 16 can also 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, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu/avc.
Visitors can also 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, and learn about Ohio’s geological past and Lake Erie’s current ecosystem.
History buffs can take a Gibraltar Island tour that includes a visit to Perry’s Lookout, the glacial grooves, Stone Lab buildings, and the outside of Cooke Castle. The second part of the tour focuses on Lake Erie research currently underway at Stone Lab. A tour fee of $10 ($5 for children 6 — 12) supports Stone Lab student scholarships. To reach Gibraltar, arrive at the Boardwalk Restaurant Harbor Taxi Landing on South Bass Island by 10:45 a.m. to catch a water taxi ($6 round-trip). Tours are provided on a first-come, first-served basis, with a maximum of 75 people.
Information about all venues and tours is available at stonelab.osu.edu/tripsandtours/island-tours. Visitors can also call Stone Lab’s Bayview Office at 419.285.1800 with questions.
Those interested in more detailed information about Lake Erie research and history are also invited to attend Stone Lab’s annual Guest Lecture series on Thursday nights, either on-site or remotely via web link. Guest speakers from government, academic and non-profit organizations will cover topics ranging from Great Lakes history to current restoration initiatives, and researchers will share updates on their current projects before each lecture. These research briefs begin at 7 p.m., with lectures running from 7:45 p.m to about 9 p.m. A full schedule of speakers, as well as information for viewing the lecture online, can be found at stonelab.osu.edu/events/guest-lectures.
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. More information on Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab is available at ohioseagrant.osu.edu; more about ODNR, Division of Wildlife can be found at dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife.
Stone Laboratory’s Bayview Office at 419.285.1800