The University of Delaware College of Marine Studies will offer free public tours of its research facilities at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes again this summer. The tours will be held every Friday, starting at 10:30 a.m., during June, July, and August.
Since the popular tour program began in 1992, more than 10,000 visitors have entered the college's doors. They've learned about research on topics ranging from weird deep-sea worms to El Niño, fisheries decline to marsh plants.
Bob Carnahan heads the volunteers, called docents, that lead the tours. These friendly guides introduce the public to the research and teaching facilities at the college, which is ranked among the top marine institutions in the United States.
"Delaware's beaches and marine life intrigue many visitors," says Carnahan. "We're glad to welcome these folks to the college to learn more about the ocean and share in the excitement of marine research."
Each tour typically begins with a 20-minute introductory slide presentation, followed by a one-hour walking tour of Cannon and Smith Laboratory buildings. In these labs, faculty and graduate students are working on projects with both local and global significance.
For example, one group of researchers is working to reveal the conditions that make some Mid-Atlantic estuaries vulnerable to Pfiesteria and other harmful algae. Others have discovered the ability of the deep-sea Pompeii worm to withstand temperatures of 176° F near hydrothermal vents over a mile deep in the ocean. Still other CMS scientists are working to transform salt-marsh plants into food and forage crops or are contributing data to help understand global climate changes.
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 pre-arranged 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 UD Hugh R. Sharp Campus, located at 700 Pilottown Road in Lewes, is accessible to handicapped visitors.