Jonah loves animals. He has some sort of connection to them. He's our little Dr. Doolittle! Whenever we go anywhere, I try to find something for him to do that has to do with animals. I really see his personality come to life when we do such activities, and he seems to get a lot out of these kinds of outings.
Since we're in Florida, we felt that it would be fitting to take him to the Oceanographic Center that is right down the street from our hotel, to see what kind of marine life is in the area. While it is just a small facility, they have a lot of hands on activities for visitors.
One of these hands on activities was feeding the sting rays. I wasn't sure that Jonah would enjoy this activity, but we gave it a try. To my surprise, he loved it! He patiently held his hand, with a slimy little shrimp between his fingers, under the water until the ray came and gobbled it out of his hand. He had the help of his grandmother and Daryl, of course, but even with them guiding him I was amazed at how patient he was. After feeding them, he got to pet them as well. At one point, I was afraid he was going to jump into the tank with the rays! He couldn't get enough of them.Other activities that they had at the center include a guided nature walk, where you can learn about the vegetation and animal life of Florida, and a game fish feed where you can watch the staff feed the farmed gaming fish while giving a talk about each kind of fish in the artificial lagoon. There is also a children's area that includes a touch tank, a coloring contest, and several aquariums containing some very eye catching creatures. I absolutely loved that the tanks were lower to the ground, at the eye level for the little ones who they are meant to be viewed by. Jonah was able to look at them without Daryl or me holding him, and we even got to work on his walking and balance while he was having fun looking at the sea life.
The cost of admission is $8 per adult, children ages 3-12 are $4, and children under 3 are free. While it wasn't as big of a wow as something such as, say, Seaworld, I felt that it was a perfect activity for a small scale relaxing beach holiday. I wouldn't drive for more than twenty minutes to get there, but if you are in the area of Hutchinson Island I do recommend it as a nice morning or afternoon activity with the kids! Be aware though, that the nature walk is over an hour long and could be pretty boring for children.