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Small creatures steal the show at TBE’s Touch Tank exhibit

By Staff | May 12, 2010

A sampling of some of the small creatures you might encounter during a visit to the Tarpon Bay Explorers’ Touch Tank and Aquarium Exhibit.

The spring season on Sanibel brings a flurry of activity as birds are foraging for food for their fast-growing chicks. You might see pelicans and osprey diving into the water or herons and egrets wading in the shallow grass flats. What are these feathered parents hunting for? They feed on the thousands of small fish, mollusks, and crustaceans that live on the bottom of the estuaries. 

While it can often be difficult to see beneath the surface of the water to observe these small creatures, you can get a great view of many of them in the Touch Tank and Aquarium Exhibit at Tarpon Bay Explorers, located at 900 Tarpon Bay Road. 

The Explorers offer presentations in the Touch Tank during which a naturalist teaches guests about the lives of animals such as spider crabs, oysters, lightning whelks, burr fish, horse conchs and more. You could see a giant red hermit crab and learn how this crustacean protects itself by living in a salvaged snail shell. 

Your guide will give you the opportunity to get up close and personal with a prehistoric-looking horseshoe crab – who is more closely related to spiders and scorpions than to crabs – and tell you about their use in modern medicine. Many guests are thrilled with the opportunity to closely observe a pair of sea horses, covered in bony plates instead of scales. These elegant fish are also bizarre, as it is the male sea horse that carries babies! 

You can learn much more about sea horses, horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs and the many other small creatures that inhabit our estuaries during a visit to the Touch Tank. Or, to make your visit complete, follow up with a boat ride in Tarpon Bay. The Nature and Sea Life Cruise is a great way to learn more about the birds, manatees, dolphins and other wildlife in The J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. 

Touch Tank Presentations are offered daily at 11 a.m., 1:30 and 3 p.m., and the Nature and Sea Life Cruise (including the Touch Tank) is offered at 11 a.m., 1:30 and 6 p.m. daily. For more information and to make reservations, call the Explorers at 472-8900 or visit www.tarponbayexplorers.com.