Feeding Stingrays

As a storm was brewing with 30 knot winds, we decided it would be best to bring the boats into a marina. We found a marina at the Marriott Resort on Hutchinson Island in Stuart, FL. It had the same amenities staying in the marina as we would have had if we stayed in a room including hot tubs, tiki bar, swimming pool, and fitness facility.

As we approached the docks, the winds picked up and we were being pushed. The docks here are stern tie with the bow lines secured to pilons. I’ve never done this before so it was a bit scary, but thankfully there were people helping and we managed to dock safely.

There were many friendly people who were liveaboards hanging out on their boats greeting us. One person recommended we check out the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center.

We took a nice stroll first to find lunch and found ourselves at The Dog Pound. They served all sorts of tasty food including Chili Dogs and Lobster Rolls. I, of course, chose the Lobster Roll and it was amazing. This food truck was located next to a couple of surf shots so we had to peek inside. I’ve always wanted to take surf lessons, but the weather was not safe for this endeavor. I shall have to find another opportunity for surf lessons.

We continued our stroll until we reached the Oceanographic Coastal Center. The Center had an indoor Exhibition hall with aquariums and information about the water and marine life surrounding Florida. It also included an outdoor Stingray touch tank, invertebrate touch tank, large water feature with turtles and game fish, and a walking trail.

The Stingray touch tank was fun. They hosted a feeding where we received fish. Holding the fish between our fingers, we laid our hands flat on the bottom and the Stingrays swam over our hands, sucking up the fish.

The walking trail was interesting. As we ventured in, we were hit but a strong smell of sulfur. The trail took us through a swamp with colorful water. The water ranged from brown to green to white. We later learned that this was due to different bacteria and decomposition. We were also surrounded by lush vegetation including mangrove and other various trees. Once we made it to the beach, we were greeted by thousands of oyster shells.

The Center partners with local restaurants and takes in used oyster shells. They are then put into mesh bags and placed in areas with low oyster population. This keeps the shells out of landfills and provides surfaces for new oysters to grow. Oyster larvae have 2 weeks to find hard substrate (existing oyster shells) to attach to. The bags in the photo will be placed in areas that have suffered a loss in Oyster population. The new oysters will eventually aid in cleaning the water and create new reefs.

The Center was very interesting. I recommend stopping by and checking it out. Also be sure to do the Stingray feeding.

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