June 8 marks World Oceans Day, an annual observation to honor the world’s oceans and celebrate the products the ocean provides, such as Maryland blue crabs and marine animals kept as pets.
To show its appreciation of the world’s oceans — especially the Atlantic — the Bethany Beach Nature Center will celebrate World Oceans Day on Saturday, June 7.
“What we’re hoping to do is get people to visit the Nature Center to see what it is locally that we have that ties in with the ocean, other than what you see at the beach,” explained Nancy Lucy, the center’s director. “What they’ll see is the back bays, the inland bays, the marsh, the swamp and how the ocean and bays work in tandem.”
Lucy said the celebration will take place throughout the day, with the main feature beginning at 10:30 a.m., with the Kidz Nature Adventure, which takes place every Saturday at the center.
“Come and discover — what are your oceans doing? What do you know about the ocean and the way it interacts with the inland bays? Did you know there’s a place in Bethany that you can walk out over the wetlands on a boardwalk trail and learn about it?”
The Kidz Nature Adventure Saturdays are held year-round at the center, but will change locations throughout the month.
“We’re trying to make it more dynamic,” said Lucy. “Every third Saturday we’re meeting at the James Farm and doing the bay net seining, where we’re taking them out into the shallows. And on the fourth Saturday of every month, we’re doing water quality testing, where we go to our vernal pool out back and the kids, with the adults, all do a water quality test. It’s going to be fun this summer.”
The nature center prides itself on being kid-friendly, with many programs, interactive displays and even touch-tanks.
“We have a scavenger hunt the kids can do outside on the trail,” said Lucy. “Last Saturday, we planted the raised bed garden with the kids, and we did a salad garden. So when they come back to see how their plants are growing, they’ll be able to take a basket and pick cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, and take it home and make a salad… It’s just a lot right here.”
The Bethany Beach Nature Center trail is open daily from dawn until dusk. During the summer, the nature center will be open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is free, and the center is open to the public; however, children must be accompanied by an adult.
Lucy, who started volunteering at the center five years ago before recently becoming its director, said it’s always wonderful to help teach children about the nature that surrounds them.
“There’s such a sense of wonder when you can explain it to the kids and have them understand. They take that message home with them across the bridge,” she said. “It’s amazing to see the lightbulb go off.”
Lucy said that, as much fun as it is to see the children learn about nature, it’s also great to help adults learn new things, as well.
“I have a saying: ‘You walk through the front door of the Addy Cottage as an adult, but you walk through the back door as a child, because you’re going to explore and discover.’ They love that. We have three generations coming in here all together — the grandparents, their children and the grandchildren.”
The nature center itself is housed in the relocated Addy Cottage, which was one of the original beachfront cottages in Bethany Beach.
“There were three of these cottages that were built by John Addy. This one that is here at the Nature Center is the only one that survived the storm of 1962. The other two cottages were swept away to sea. People really like to learn that kind of information… a little taste of the local historic feel of the town.”
Lucy said she hopes many families will attend Saturday’s event, to not only help celebrate World Oceans Day, but to learn something new.
“I hope people discover in their own back yard how important and relevant not only the ocean is, but our connection to the ocean and the inland bays,” she said. “It’s a fun place to explore the dynamic of nature, not only with the beach and ocean, but with the back bays, creatures and critters.”
The Bethany Beach Nature Center is located at 807 Garfield Parkway (Route 26), about a mile west of Route 1, just west of Grotto’s Pizza. For more information, call (302) 537-7680 or visit www.inlandbays.org/visit-us-bethany-beach-nature-center. For more information on World Oceans Day, visit www.worldoceansday.org.