Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor New Jersey

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Salt marsh in Stone Harbor, New Jersey

We visited the Wetlands Institute on our trip to the Jersey Shore and discovered a great place to learn!  The walkway into the Institute had a flower garden where we found a caterpillar.

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We started our tour of the wetlands by watching a short film about life in the salt marsh during all four seasons of the year.  Many living things depend on the security of the salt marsh.

We went on a guided tour of the marsh.  We learned that hundreds of living things are in one shovel full of marsh mud.  We used a hydrometer and a refractometer to measure the salinity of the marsh water.

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Using a hydrometer

We checked out lots of Terrapin nests along the trail.  Students monitor the nests and mark them so they are protected until they hatch.

A marked Terrapin nest

A marked Terrapin nest

The guide caught a Fiddler Crab and pointed out other interesting plants and animals along the trail.

Looking at a Fiddler Crab

Using binoculars to see a Snowy Egret

Using binoculars to see a Snowy Egret

We learned about the food chain and got a great visual of it as we were assigned different creatures to imitate.  The kids were Bluefish, Tuna and Humans in the scenario.

Wetlands Institute

Acting out the food chain in the salt marsh.

The scenery was beautiful and it would be a great place to walk even without a tour guide, but the guide we had was excellent.  He was knowledgeable and engaging and very good with the kids!

Wetlands Institute Stone Harbor NJ

At the end of the tour, we had the chance to explore the water and look for Fiddler Crabs on our own!

Exploring the marsh

Exploring the marsh

After the guided tour, we headed back inside to watch the guide feed some of the creatures of the salt marsh in the touch tank.  As he did the feeding, he shared lots of fascinating information.  We even learned new things about Horseshoe Crabs, a creature we already know lots about!

Wetlands Institute

Checking out the touch tank

The kids got to hold a Sea Star, a Spider Crab and even got to feed a Horseshoe Crab!

Wetlands Institute Stone Harbor

Holding a Spider Crab

Wetlands Institute

Holding a Horseshoe Crab while it eats a fish! (white in the center is the fish going in)

Close up of Horseshoe Crab eating a fish

Close up of Horseshoe Crab eating a fish

Wetlands Institute

Holding a Sea Star

After the touch tank feeding, the guide fed the octopus a live crab.  The crab was put into a jar with the lid screwed on and lowered into the octopus tank.  We watched in amazement as the octopus unscrewed the lid and and retrieved the crab.

Watching the octopus

Watching the octopus

The room that housed the touch tank and and octopus tank also had lots of fun educational activities for the kids and several other fish tanks to investigate.

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Shell Sorting

 

Osprey Nest

Osprey Nest Display

 

There was also another room where we learned about Terrapins and Horseshoe Crabs.  We liked seeing the progression of sizes of Horseshoe Crabs!

 

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The Institute had a nice gift shop with educational toys, books, etc.  There are also lots of educational programs and events throughout the year.   It was only about 30 minutes from where we were staying in Ocean City, NJ.  The admission was reasonable and well worth the cost.  I would highly recommend stopping by if you are in the area with kids!

Learn more about the Wetlands Institute, their educational activities and their research and conservation efforts at wetlandsinstitute.org .

 

 

 

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