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During our recent stay in Hutchinson Island, FL, we were provided with tickets to a couple of local family friendly attractions. I’m continuing our “Things to Do in Florida” series with The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center in Hutchinson Island, FL.
If you and your family love to learn about sea life, then you’ll want to check out The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center. The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center is located on Hutchinson Island, one of our favorite local destinations. The 57-acre attraction includes nature trails, 750,000-gallon Game Fish Lagoon, Sea Turtle Pavilion, Children’s Activity Pavilion, Sea Star Touch Tank Pavilion, Rays on the Reef Ray Pavilion, and the Frances Langford Visitors Center. The center provides excellent opportunities for education and research.
Rays on the Reef Ray Pavilion
The stingray tank is by far, my kids favorite part of The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center. You can touch them, feed them and learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about stingrays. Since the rays in the Florida Oceanographic tank do not have to protect themselves from predators, they routinely have their barbs clipped and are safe to touch.
Falynn spent the majority of our time there and found her way back a few times throughout our visit. As much as I’ve always been told to stay away from them, the stingrays in the tank were playful, often coming up, out of the water to say hi and splashing us just for kicks.
We made sure that we arrived in time for the Stingray Feeding Program. During this 30-minute program visitors will learn about different rays and get the opportunity to have hands-on interaction.
Children’s Activity Pavilion
Next, The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center offers a Children’s Activity Pavilion with different areas for the kids to play. They can “go fishing”, put together puzzles and various other fun stations. Falynn had a blast driving the ship and fishing to see who could hook the biggest fish.
What I love about it is that although they are having fun, they are also learning. There is educational information everywhere you turn.
Sea Star Touch Tank Pavilion
Our oldest daughter spent the majority of the time in the Sea Star Touch Tank Pavilion. Even though she will run from a fly, she is absolutely fascinated by sea life. She never thought twice about holding her hand out for a hermit crab. She loves the touch tank because it gives her the opportunity to get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures.
There are always volunteers standing by to make sure the animals are treated right and are never in any danger. They can answer just about any question you might think of and they are excited about teaching their guests.
While we started to walk down the nature trail, it was probably more than 90 degrees the day we visited so we didn’t get very far. There are two trails, one much longer than the other. We had to promise the girls that we would visit again in the fall and finish the trail. They love to look out for wildlife, butterflies and even lizards!
If you’re interested in a guided tour of the The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center nature trails, you can experience the sounds and smells of nature as a knowledgeable trail guide takes you on a one-mile loop walk to the Indian River lagoon and back while you discover different native plants and species.
Sea Turtle Pavilion
One of the things we didn’t get to do on our last visit to The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center, was visit the sea turtles. The sea turtle pavilion introduces you to the five sea turtle species that are found in Florida. Three of them nest along the SE coast of Florida and most of those nests are found on the shorelines of six central coast counties of which Martin County is smack in the middle. You will learn how to identify their sea turtles, what their biggest threats are, and what we can do to be better stewards. In addition, they provide up-to-date information on the turtles that are in their lagoon.
Check out the video our Super Dad made with his underwater camera:
If you’re ever in the Hutchinson Island, FL area, we recommend stopping by The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center. Which part do you think you would enjoy the most? Comment below and let us know!
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