Long-awaited center to open



The jetties and beaches are areas of fast-moving water and the Patton Center - Marine Science Education includes aquaria that mimic those environments and holds the fish that live there. There also are three separate focus tanks that will showcase jellyfish, seahorses and a sargassum habitat. The center will open to the public on Oct. 18. Courtesy photo

The jetties and beaches are areas of fast-moving water and the Patton Center – Marine Science Education includes aquaria that mimic those environments and holds the fish that live there. There also are three separate focus tanks that will showcase jellyfish, seahorses and a sargassum habitat. The center will open to the public on Oct. 18. Courtesy photo

The newly renovated Patton Center – Marine Science Education will open to the public on Tuesday, Oct. 18, according to a press release from the University of Texas Marine Science Institute.

The center, located on the institute’s campus at 855 E. Cotter Ave., was severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and has been closed for more than five years while renovations were ongoing.

The total cost of the renovations was more than $5 million. The cost included significant repairs to the building including the roof, floor, walls and more as well as the new exhibits. The exhibits take up the same space as the old education center. It was not expanded.

“The space has since been transformed into a bright and dynamic facility to teach about the wonders of the marine system,” said the release.

The center will include eight large aquaria containing fish found in the local area – the estuary, near shore waters in the Gulf and the jetties. The fish will include red drum, croaker, flounder, sea horses and more.

Interactive displays will provide opportunities for people of all ages to learn about local marine life and the research that is conducted at UTMSI and the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Several kiosks will offer “Meet the Scientists,” where visitors can utilize a touch screen to learn more about some of the scientists doing research at UTMSI.

Another display is an Amos Rehabilitation Keep kiosk where visitors can color a sea turtle or pelican on a tablet, tag it with their initials and “release” it into the Gulf or sky. A QR code will be sent to the visitors’ phones and a “rescue” profile of the animal will pop up and give information about the animal.

Sand around the world will be featured in yet another interactive kiosk. The display will “fly” the visitor around the world to different locales where the specific sand can be found.

Yet another interactive display will be an opportunity for visitors to touch and feel live marine animals like hermit crabs, starfish and other species.

In addition, the staff person on duty will hold “Keeper Chats,” where different animals in the aquaria will be featured and visitors can learn more about the species. Visitors also will be able to view the staff feeding the different species in the aquaria at different times.

“Folks who visited the old education center won’t even recognize the new space,” said Sally Palmer, communications manager. “It is a really high quality aquarium, very well done and designed.”

The center will be open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Entrance is free.

Reservations for large group tours can be made by contacting Adriana Reza, education coordinator, at adriana.reza@ austin.utexas.edu.

The center was renovated with support from the University of Texas at Austin, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2018 and the Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act of 2017. The renovations also were supported by philanthropists

Sherri and Bobby Patton, who the newly reopened facility was named after.

It was designed by Turner/ Ramirez Architects and constructed by Beecroft Construction, both firms from Corpus Christi.

Contact Carlson at news@portasouthjetty.com

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