Kids and the coast are a natural combination. From critter petting tanks to crab races, and seafood to ship tours, the University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies (CMS) and Sea Grant College Program are planning numerous activities to interest children of all ages at Coast Day on Sunday, October 4, in Lewes, Del. From participating in painting a sea-life mural with renowned artist Wyland, to touring an underwater environment created by middle-school students, kids will find all kinds of activities to stimulate the intellect and delight the imagination. Many of the activities will be repeated at least once throughout the day, so youngsters can be sure to hit all of the attractions.
From noon to 4 p.m., students can join renowned whaling wall artist Wyland as he kicks off the national Ocean Challenge in Delaware. As part of the challenge, designed to inspire learning about the sea and its creatures, Wyland will encourage students from kindergarten through college to help paint an ocean mural on a 24-foot-long plywood canvas. Kids should come prepared to paint and let their imagination carry them into the deep. Teachers and volunteers will be on hand to help mix paint, cover youngsters with T-shirt artists' smocks, and provide instruction where needed. The finished mural will be photographed and entered into Wyland's Ocean Challenge, with winners to be announced in November.
At 11 a.m., you can take the kids on a muckless marsh walk to look at the wonders of Canary Creek. If this half-hour walk is too strenuous for young tots, let them watch the Great Crab Race. The races will be held at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Be sure to bring some bait to lure a crab to the finish line. Chicken necks, salted eels, and good, old table scraps have been winning baits in the past. Or watch the blue crab feeding at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. No race, just a rundown on this crustaceans appetite and feeding habits.
A puppet show with Captain Croaker and other characters is sure to delight the younger set as they learn about boating safety. The show, sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, will be presented at noon, and 1, 2, and 3 p.m. near the Marine Operations Building.
Throughout the day, families can watch nautical videos in Room 202 of Cannon Lab. Three award-winners from the International Wildlife Film Festival will be aired. At noon and again at 2 p.m., "Champions of the Wild: Sharks" (29 min.) will play. "Incredible Journeys: A Whale's Voyage" (29 min.) will air at 12:30 p.m. and again at 2:30 p.m. At 1 p.m., catch "Touched by a Dolphin" (45 min.).
Have the kids try their hand at making a fabulous fish print on paper that they can take home. This activity will continue throughout the day. Look for the tent between Smith and Cannon labs. While you're there, don't pass up a journey to the ocean bottom. Kids help will be needed to construct a life-size model of a deep-sea hydrothermal vent from noon to 3 p.m. with Dr. Craig Cary and CMS graduate students.
Walk through the Coastal Habitat at the north entrance to Cannon Lab. Once inside Cannon Lab, kids of all ages will enjoy the Year of the Ocean exhibit with a special look at the deep sea, coral reefs, and beaches. For another look under the ocean, visit the five-room exhibit, Undersea Adventure, created and staffed by Talley Middle School students. This exhibit also includes hydrothermal vents as well as a scaled-down replica of the Titanic set up in the second greenhouse of Smith Lab.
Young computer jockeys are sure to enjoy navigating the World Wide Web by visiting the home pages of the College of Marine Studies and the Sea Grant program as well as other marine-related sites. Computers will be set up all day in Cannon Lab. In the halophyte lab, kids can test their knowledge by participating in a marsh hunt. As kids complete their answer sheets at each stop, their sheets are stamped. A completed sheet signaling a good effort will earn participants a marine animal bookmark. Budding geniuses can try to stump the fish man with questions in Smith Lab. And dont miss the hands-on exhibits of the Smithsonian Science Project from noon to 3 p.m. in the Virden Center.
The Coast Guard will give an air/sea rescue demonstration in the CMS harbor. In addition, tours of several vessels will be held continuously in the harbor. Open for tours are a 47-foot Coast Guard motor life boat, the 82-foot oyster schooner, A. J. Meerwald, and the 166-foot DELRIVER oil skimmer. Be sure to visit the Delaware Marine Trades Association Boat Show near the Seafood pavilion. Children who sign a safe boating pledge will receive a free life jacket while supplies last. The Delaware River and Bay Authority will operate the Cape May Lewes Ferry trolley from the CMS campus parking lot to the Lewes city harbor. There visitors can board the historic tall-ship, Kalmar Nyckel. Fees to board the ship are $5 for ages 13 and up, $3 for ages 7 through 12, and free for those under 7.
Coast Day activities are scheduled from 11 a.m until 5 p.m on Sunday, October 4, at the Marine Studies complex, 700 Pilottown Road, in Lewes. Admission is free; parking is $2. Detailed information about event times and locations will be available at Coast Day. For further information, call the University of Delaware Marine Communications Office at (302) 831-8083. Or visit our Web site at www.ocean.udel.edu.