"Float Your Boat" to Coast Day on Sunday, October 2, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the University of Delaware's Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. Throughout the day, professors and graduate students will be conducting demonstrations, exhibits, and hands-on activities that showcase their research in ways designed to excite children of all ages about the fascinating world of the ocean and marine environment.
In keeping with this year's theme, the harbor will be teeming with boats that visitors can tour such as Delaware's tall ship, Kalmar Nyckel. Its captain, David Hiott, will arrive on the pier in period dress and will demonstrate various techniques used to build vessels during the 1600s. The original Kalmar Nyckel sailed from Sweden in 1638 and established the first permanent European settlement in present-day Wilmington, Delaware.
In addition, First State, a research vessel used by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for fisheries monitoring and pollution studies; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' 65-foot Shuman, a research vessel used to survey the seafloor; and DELRIVER, the Delaware River and Bay Cooperative's 166-foot oil skimmer that can recover oil at a rate of 800 gallons a minute, also will be available for tours. A security check will be required before boarding DELRIVER.
At 2:30 p.m., the Coast Guard will conduct a daring air/sea rescue in the harbor. To encourage the use of lifesaving devices that increase the chances of being rescued at sea, the Delaware Marine Trades Asso-ciation will hand out life jackets to children who sign a safe boating pledge. This giveaway will occur near the Seafood Pavilion, while supplies last.
A special exhibit in Room 104, Cannon Lab, will focus on boats that no longer float. Visitors will be able to meet archaeologists Charles Fithian and Dan Griffith and see artifacts that have been retrieved from shipwrecks off the coast of Delaware including some from the 18th century that recently were discovered on Lewes Beach. In addition, there will a live display of fish that use shipwrecks as habitat.
Also in Room 104, UD scientists will show how modern technology is used to survey shipwrecks and other objects on the ocean floor as well as present hands-on exhibits and activities that will assist children of all ages in understanding how underwater exploration is conducted.
The Zwaanendael Museum in Lewes also will display artifacts that recently have been collected on Lewes Beach as well as those from the HMS De Braak, a 16-gun British sloop that went down in 1798 off the coast of Delaware. In addition, the museum will offer hands-on activities that will give children a taste of the sailing life during the colonial period. The Zwaanendael Museum was built in 1931 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the first European settlement in Delaware and features exhibits that highlight Sussex County's maritime connections.
Along with the activities sponsored by the Zwaanendael Museum, the Delaware Marine Archaeological Society will give visitors the opportunity to test a remotely operated vehicle. These vehicles provide a practical, safe, and economically feasible way to perform underwater surveys.
Many professors have prepared demonstrations or activities that will help children understand the nature, and importance, of marine research. For example, microscopes will be available so that children can identify foraminifera, tiny one-celled marine organisms that paleoceanographers use to reveal the history of the ocean. In another exhibit, children can assemble their own Winogradsky column. These columns are enclosed self-sustaining microcosms -- literally "small worlds" -- that give microbiologists the ability to grow multiple types of microbes under various conditions so these tiny bugs can be studied.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also is offering a variety of hands-on learning activities this year. Come test your knowledge of weather issues in Weather Jeopardy, learn about excavating shipwrecks, build a paper model of a horseshoe crab, and even make fish prints that are suitable for framing.
A perennial favorite among children is marine animals. The marine critter touch tank will give kids an opportunity to touch an assortment of marine life. But that's not the only place marine life can be ex- perienced close up. Various labs will be open where scientists are studying organisms such as marine worms and horseshoe crabs.
Children also will be able to hear the sounds that local fish including weakfish, croaker, and toadfish make. Scientists will be on hand to help identify the fish by sound and to explain how and why the sounds are made. After listening to the sounds, make sure to stop by the tropical fish tank that contains reef fish such as the colorful clownfish.
Always popular, the Great Crab Race will be held at three different times throughout the afternoon. Bring your favorite bait and test it against the scientists' to see which one will be the favorite of Delaware's most valuable crustacean, the blue crab. A feeding and lab tour will take place after each race -- a great way to learn about the crab's appetite and feeding habits.
Throughout the day, the Rehoboth Beach Film Society will present "Whales," a 44-minute film that plunges audiences to the ocean depths to witness the sights, sounds, and survival of the world's largest mammal. The film will immerse audiences in an underwater world where muted light and color is dominated by sound. Follow dolphins and blue, humpback, orca, and right whales in their ancient migratory journeys and discover how their amazing ability to hear and send calls over thousands of miles influences and guides their feeding, breeding, navigation, and socialization.
Other children's activities include a "children's activity table," sponsored by the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation (MERR) Institute, Inc. MERR is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals and sea turtles. In addition, Beneath the Sea, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the oceans and the sport of scuba diving, will show how they teach children and adults about preserving our waterways.
Mrs. Delaware 2005, Susanne Truitt of Lewes; Miss Delaware USA 2005, Sheena Benton of Wilmington; and Miss Delaware Teen USA 2005, Ashley Fletcher of Smyrna, will greet visitors and also help with children's activities. Bring a camera so your children can have their picture taken when they meet these pageant winners.
How do children experience all that Coast Day has to offer? Perhaps the best way is for children to stop by the information table, located at the front of Cannon Lab, and pick up a Treasure Hunt map. The annual Treasure Hunt challenges children, ages 5 to 13, to find the answers to questions about marine science in the many displays and exhibits found throughout the campus. Treasure Hunt maps are free, and prizes will be awarded to children who answer all the questions.
A number of businesses and industries are sponsoring special exhibits and events at Coast Day, including AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, in Wilmington; Conectiv in Salisbury, Maryland; the Cape Gazette in Lewes; Maritrans Operating Company in Philadelphia; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Washington, D.C.; and Sunoco, Inc., in Philadelphia.
Admission to this educational and fun-filled event is free; parking is $2. For more information contact the UD Marine Public Education Office at (302) 831-8083, or visit the Coast Day Web site at www.ocean.udel.edu/CoastDay.