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“Rays of the Bay” Touch Tank Exhibit Opens March 16 at the Estuarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Jan 18, 2013

The Estuarium at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is about to open its first outdoor touch tank, an exciting exhibit that invites visitors to learn about the “Rays of the Bay.”  This 6,400-gallon tank will house cownose rays and southern stingrays, and visitors will be allowed to gently touch these animals once the exhibit opens on Saturday, March 16.

“Rays of the Bay” is sponsored by Lulu’s at Homeport Restaurant and the Hearin-Chandler Foundation.

“We’re so pleased to offer this exhibit so all our visitors, whether they’re local or visiting from around the world, can learn about these creatures that inhabit our local waters,” said Dr. John Dindo, Associate Director at the Sea Lab. “The Sea Lab has been a steady proponent of hands-on education; we believe that experiential learning leads to life-long learning, and what could be more hands-on than having the ability to stroke a ray?”

The Sea Lab, in its commitment to alternative energy sources, will operate the touch tank through a geothermal heating and cooling system, keeping the saltwater temperature at a comfortable 70 degrees year-round.  The heat pump loops are buried in a freshwater aquifer 170 feet below ground, where the temperature is a constant 70 degrees.  The freshwater circuit will heat or cool the saltwater circuits, depending on the need.

“Not only is this more cost-effective than paying to continually heat or cool the tank,” adds Dr. Dindo, “this is in line with all our other efforts to support and promote alternative energy.  We already have solar power and a permeable parking lot; this is a natural next step, and we want our visitors to learn about this as well as the rays.”

Visitors will be able to visit this unique showcase on Saturday, March 16.


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