Day Trips: Marine Science Center, Port Aransas

Science center unveils the natural secrets of the barrier island

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

The Marine Science Education Center is a window into the island landscape quietly surviving behind the pastel-colored condos, world-class restaurants, and miles of beach at Port Aransas. The center reveals the fragile ecosystem that makes the barrier island so attractive to visitors and residents.

Despite the ever-present threat of being loved too much, Port Aransas has managed to preserve the vital natural habitat around the island. While most human visitors come for the pristine beaches, the wildlife comes for the brackish water, mud flats, and grass-covered sand dunes.

The Marine Science Education Center reminds visitors of the importance of the transition zone between fresh and saltwater habitats. The small science museum is full of information about the estuaries along the Texas coast. As a convenient respite from the sun and sand of the beach, the center entertains with aquariums, whale bones, and plenty of hands-on activities for the elementary school age visitors and explanations for their parents.

Across the road from the center is a man-made wetland that attracts many of the feathered visitors to the island. There is no telling what wildlife you might see while on the short walk around the park.

The Marine Science Education Center and Wetlands Education Center are on the campus of the University of Texas Marine Science Institute at 855 E. Cotter Ave. in Port Aransas. Both are open daily and admission is free. For a list of special events, go to

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Marine Science Education Center, Wetlands Education Center, Port Aransas, Texas coast

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