After our CT visit on Saturday, we traveled to RI to spend time with grandchildren Bobby and Ellie and their mom, Shannon. We met up at the Biomes Marine Biology Center in RI.
This was a first-time visit for us and we learned that this facility is New England's only private marine education facility and the most hands-on aquarium in the region. Since 1989, it's focused on teaching children and adults about the marine life of Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Biomes features over 120 species of animals on display and is said to house the largest collection of local marine life in the world. It provides unique marine exhibits and hands-on interactions and is a popular family destination. (A biome is a community of plants and animals that have common characteristics for the environment in which they exist.)
The facility features lots of touch tanks and hands-on exhibits. Families can freely explore the exhibits which feature printed information on the marine life. Biomes boasts the original shark-petting tank in New England. Grandson Bobby, who was apprehensive about the touch tanks soon became "friends" with a sand shark that he named "Buddy."
Biomes is a private, locally-owned education center and as such it's not funded by grants, donations or corporate sponsorships. The facility is self-sustaining and is funded solely by admissions and program fees. All marine animals on display have been collected in Narragansett Bay by staff and volunteers; no animals have been purchased or imported.
Biomes founder, Mark Hall, is a 1986 graduate of the University of New Hampshire. As a teenager, he began a wholesale collecting business to supply marine specimens to high school science classrooms across the country. After college, Hall traveled to schools throughout southern New England to demonstrate his collection of living ocean life. In 1995, he opened a small educational facility in North Kingstown, RI to house the marine life used in the traveling shows and to provide a venue for class field trips. The present facility we visited was opened at the end of 2013.
Both grandchildren and their mom had a great afternoon at this facility. Grenville was a very happy parent and grandparent. (Does it show much?)We grandparents had a fun afternoon too. This was a wonderful "birthday" getaway weekend. We're planning to give Bobby and Ellie a membership as part of their holiday gifts this year. Their mom introduced us to gifting "experiences" vs. a lot of gifts which re often soon forgotten. It was a wonderful idea as last Christmas we gifted several experiences: ice skating, roller blading and an Audubon membership.