Monday, October 7, 2013

Ponce Inlet Marine Science Center and Lighthouse

On Sunday as part of the ECHO Ranger program we drove to the area of Ponce Inlet, about an hour from our home, to visit the Marine Science Center and the old Lighthouse.  The Science center is a Turtle and Seabird Rehabilitation center for injured sea turtles and birds.  After an informational time in their classroom, the group went to look through the displays and fish tanks that showed the wildlife, plant, bird and fish that are found on the land and in the ocean that surround this facility.

Kids in Science Centers learning room

The kids got to touch the stingrays in the touch tank they had in the center of the room.

We then moved out to the turtle rehabilitation overlook to see the care that is given to turtles found sick or injured to treat them and return them to the wild.

Girl's under display of the actual size of a leatherback sea turtle
Group in the turtle rehab area

One of the sea turtles in it's tank

The turtle rehab area

Board showing current turtle patients
Docent with kids by eel tank

Close up of one of the eels

eel in tank

Other tanks around had a wide variety of interesting fish including these beautiful seahorses

Cow fish
Shrimp hiding under corral

Once this portion of the tour was complete, we walked over to the bird rehab area where the many residents because of their injuries will live out their lives as they can not be returned to the wild due to the injuries they each sustained.  Included in this group are a pair of American Bald Eagles. Hard to photograph due to the light and the heavy gage wire cage they are in, but impressive birds none the less. 

Group walking over to the bird sanctuary

Bald eagles

Kids learning about the birds and program

After our time at the Science Center it was on to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse with it's old caretakers buildings for our tour of the old buildings now turned museums and some wonderful information for the kids by our guide of what life would have been like if you were one of the caretakers kids who lived at the facility during it's time of service.  A history of the lighthouse and it's keepers can be found here: Ponce Lighthouse History

First Keeper's House


Lighthouse docent with kids
Clothing display for old keepers.  Can not imaging having to wear these in the rough environment and no air conditioning!

One of many display cases of found objects from this site

The kids enjoyed looking at the old buildings with some of the pieces found on site or collected over time of the various historical periods of this facility.  We saw a short film of the history in the old woodshed building with it's attached privy that gave the kids a view of pre- indoor plumbing facilities.  The cistern that collected rainwater and it's hand pump were there and in another building the old barrels that held the kerosene for the original lights at the facility. In a smaller building the collection of the original generators, tools and military equipment used when the lighthouse served as a lookout by the coastguard in World War II for Nazi U-boats.  Once we had toured all the buildings on the sites grounds, it was time to climb all 201 steps of the 175 Ft. lighthouse tower. That was a workout, but the view and the wonderful breeze up there were worth it!!!

Kerosene storage barrels

Original Fresnel Lens lights

"Indoor" plumbing installed in the primary keepers home in 1929 on a converted porch

Model of lighthouse being built

Old lighthouse being built

Old picture of lighthouse facility
Display of keepers house kitchen as it was back in the time of the lighthouse keepers

Old equipment for radios and Morse code equipment

Rain water catchment system with cistern and hand pump
Lighthouse tower. Time to climb
View from the bottom looking up at the spiral stairs

The climbing begins

Lighthouse light

Views from the top

Beautiful and the breeze was wonderful after the warm interior and heat from the climb

Cameron and another guy who shared his dislike of heights

Time to go down - view down the stairs

The steep decline took some getting used to especially for the girls

Cam glad to be heading down

Our outing was interesting and a lot of fun.  We were fortunate that the weather was gorgeous while we were out and about and the rain held off until we were on our way home when the skies seemed to open up and it poured.  So ended another enjoyable day of exploring the new home State we are now living in and more of it's fun and educational places to see and experience.

This kids program the ECHO Rangers, has turned out to be a great find. The original cost of $20 for each of the girls covers their admission cost and for one adult with each girl.  So we've only had to pay for Cameron at these facilities and even then many have simply included him for free.  With the average entrance fee of $5.00 a person at the various places we've been, this program paid for itself on our first visit in September to the Halifax Museum.  It's had us get out and about to places we might never have explored, and really would have missed out on.  So all in all it's a great program and find for our family!

This will be a great week as we prepare to host Amber and Eddie, who are coming from California to visit. We also have several members of Kevin's family who will be in town to visit and be able to meet Eddie for the first time.  We're really looking forward to this.  Will be posting our time together and the places we explore.

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