The Aquatic Visitors Center on Put-in-Bay is located on the westerns shore of South Bass Island just outside the Put-in-Bay Village limits. Thru funds from the Ohio Sea Grant this educational hands-on laboratory is maintained providing a fun and educational family-oriented experience. The wide variety of exhibits and hands of interactive activities provide hours of fun for all ages. Guided tours are $4.00 and funds are used to assist in offsetting the cost of maintaining the Aquatic Center.
Aquatic Center at Put-in-Bay History
For the first 80 or so years of the history of the structure, the Aquatic Center served as one of the State Of Ohio’s Fish Hatchery locations. Several species including the popular Lake Erie Perch & Walleye were bread and released to enhance the lakes fish population and ensure the survival of the species. Operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the hatchery for many years help preserve the many popular species of game fish in Lake Erie from overfishing and extinction.
In 1988, the hatchery was converted to the present day Aquatic Center where today kids and adults alike can learn about the ecology of Lake Erie thru the research performed by the Laboratory and its ongoing affiliation with the Ohio State University.
Aquatic Center Research
Overall the quality of Lake Erie has improved markedly over the last 40 years yet to this day there are still challenges that require the Aquatic Centers research and expertise. Visitors to the Aquatic Center will learn about current and past research projects and how their efforts have improved the water and ecological aspects of Lake Erie. Today one of the biggest threats to Lake Erie are invasive species brought into Lake Erie from ballast tanks of cargo ships and that cling to small pleasure crafts transitioning the Great Lakes.
One of these species, the Round Goby is perhaps the most aggressive of invaders with a voracious appetite that competes with native species for food. Its natural predators are the Walleye and water snakes.
Aquatic Center Activities
One of the most popular activities at the Aquatic Center is fishing! Children under the age of 16 are provided with a pole, bait, and instruction to fish for free from the pier located at the rear of the Aquatic Center. Children will catch a variety of local species and learn about the lakes food chain and how important the ecosystem and its balance are. Visitors will learn thru educational presentations what is being done to protect the lake and its ecosystem. Interactive presentations allow for questions and answers by their knowledgeable guides and presenters.
Summer Programs At the Aquatic Center
On Summer Saturdays at the Aquatic Center, there are various kids programs that offer fun, educational and interactive experiences for kids. These programs change from year to year but include presentations on fish the Lake Erie Water Snake, Birds and their role in the ecosystem, Plankton and underwater exploration. New topics and programs are introduced each year. After your visit to the Aquatic Center and while you are on the West Shore, be sure to stop by the Alfred Parker Park just a few minutes down Westshore Blvd where you will find a great location for a family picnic with food from one of the great Put-in-Bay Restaurants and a great place to relax and enjoy a summer sunset.