Day Trips: Bay Education Center, Rockport

Science center offers education on vacation

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

The Bay Education Center in Rockport gives a view of the coast that landlubbers rarely see. The Texas coast is much more than sandy beaches, and the center shines a light on the biodiversity of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Designated in 2006, the research area covers 186,189 acres of four bays and their serrated coastline from Port Aransas to Austwell. The Mission-Aransas reserve is among the largest of the 29 coastal reserves in the country. The research is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and managed by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute. The study area provides scientists a "living laboratory" of the coastal ecosystem.

That brings us back to the educational center in Rockport. Located between the entrance to Rockport Beach Park and Rockport Harbor, the science center is small, but packed with information. The exhibit explains how the tidal flats and seagrass meadows are some of the most productive habitats in the world for crabs, oysters, shrimp, fish, and other wildlife.

In an auditorium off the main room, Science on a Sphere uses a globe-shaped projection screen to show a continuous loop of short science videos. The topics cover everything from rising sea levels to plastic in the oceans.

Whether for a cool respite from the beach or a quick science lesson, this is a nice place to duck into for a few minutes. Be careful; you might learn something while you're on vacation.

The Bay Education Center in Rockport is at 121 Seabreeze Dr. and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm. A resident expert gives a science presentation on most Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 2pm. Admission is always free. For information, call 361/774-1785.

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