During my first full day in Florida I climbed a lighthouse and hiked on boardwalks around sand dunes. In between, with my hosts the Kulps, we visited the Marine Science Center. Located a short distance from the lighthouse in Ponce Inlet, the Marine Science Center is both school and hospital, providing information on the wildlife of Florida for people and conducting rehabilitation for injured birds and sea turtles.  The facility includes nature trails and an observation tower, but with a five year old in tow we left those for a future visit and stuck with the Center itself and the outdoor bird exhibits.

The Center’s building, as might be expected, was focused on aquariums. Eels, turtles, and rays dominated the tanks. Our arrival was timed for the daily feeding of the Atlantic Sting Rays. These odd looking creatures with the barbed tails are relatively gentle, and the residents of the ray tank will eat from your hand. I experienced this feeding, after getting instruction from a Center staffer.

Don’t try this at home.

Both the five year old and the forty nine year old visitors had a good time. And our perspectives weren’t that different. (The five year old is cuter and marginally less well behaved, of course.) Everything is new to her and Florida is new to me. And that spirit of curiosity and wonder didn’t leave me during trip. And I hope it never does.