If you have an interest in the ocean or are curious about the research being conducted at the University of Delaware’s Graduate College of Marine Studies (CMS), then take a free tour of the college’s facilities at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. Tours are offered by a trained group of guides, called docents, every Friday morning beginning at 10:30 a.m. during June, July, and August.
Bob Carnahan has been heading the group of docents since 1992, when the tour program began. The docents are trained volunteers from the community who introduce the public to the research and teaching facilities at CMS. More than 1,000 visitors are customarily guided through Cannon and Smith laboratories every year by the docents.
“The college began the guided tours several years ago as a way to bring the world of marine science to the public,” says Carnahan. “Delaware’s beaches and marine life attract many visitors who also have an interest in marine science. We are happy to show them the wide scope of research being conducted at CMS.”
Each tour typically begins with a 15-minute introductory video that highlights many of the college’s research activities. The video transports visitors from the beaches of Delaware Bay where scientists collect data to assess the status of the horseshoe crab population, to the remote sensing labs in Newark where satellite technology is being used to monitor and predict El Niño and other related phenomena.
Following the video presentation is a walking tour of Cannon and Smith laboratories where the majority of the research in the college’s Oceanography and Marine Biology-Biochemistry programs is conducted. The walking tour typically takes approximately one hour to complete — making it ideal for the summer or weekend visitor to Delaware’s beaches.
The tour includes a visit to laboratories where genetic research on marine organisms such as oysters and fish is performed and greenhouses where new uses for salt-marsh plants are being investigated. Other popular stops along the tour are at laboratories where scientists are conducting research on the horseshoe crab and investigating the year-to-year fluctuation in the population of blue crabs.
New to the walking tour this year are a number of exhibits and displays on how UD scientists are studying extreme marine environments such as the ice-covered seas of the Antarctic and hydrothermal vent sites over a mile deep at the bottom of the ocean. Find out how research in these areas is leading to exciting discoveries and new techniques for applications in science and industry.
To join a Friday morning tour, call the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service at (302) 645-4346 no later than noon the preceding day to reserve a place. Since tour groups are limited in size, reservations are imperative. Families are invited to participate; however, the tours are unsuitable for small children.
In addition to the Friday morning tours, the college will continue to offer prearranged tours for groups of five or more people, junior-high age or older, Monday through Friday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Such tours may be scheduled by calling at least a week in advance. The Hugh R. Sharp Campus, located at 700 Pilottown Road in Lewes, is accessible to handicapped visitors.