The Aquatic Visitors Center on Put-in-Bay provides an education and fun look at the Lake Erie eco structure. Ohio Sea Grant provides funding for this freshwater field laboratory. With hands-on activities, educational exhibitions, and its own fishing pier, the Aquatics Visitor Center is both fun as well as educational for visitors of all ages.
Aquatic Visitors Center History
The Aquatic Visitors Center served as the State Fish Hatchery at Put-in-Bay from 1907 to 1988 in partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources , The hatchery-raised a variety of fish species for over 80 years This assisted in preserving the rich ecology of Lake Erie.
Many of the fish species we enjoy catching from Lake Erie today benefited from the hatchery. Local delicacies like Walleye and Yellow Perch can be found in almost all Put-in-Bay Restaurants. Sauger, coho salmon, whitefish, herring, chinook salmon, and also steelhead are also common species to Lake Erie. The hatchery used raceways, hatching jars, raceways, and other artifacts to farm the fish. Many of these are still on display today.
Lake Erie is a magical place enjoyed by hundreds of thousands every year. Lake Erie however, still faces pressing problems in this area. In conjunction with the Ohio Sea Grant, Stone Laboratory and the ODNR Division of Wildlife, research continues on how to best shape the future of the lake.
Visitors to the Aquatic Center can learn all about the current research projects conducted by a dedicated team of students and scientists. Walleye tracking, aquatic invasive species, the dead zone, and fish biology are just a few of the projects currently in study.
Aquatic Center Education Fun
• Ask Aquatic Visitors Center experts questions about this special ecosystem
• Learn about all the current research being done to protect Lake Erie
• Closely observe Lake Erie fish species
• Investigate Lake Erie’s complex ecosystem with activities
• Fishing on the pier
Children 16 years of age are invited to fish on the pier for free. Fishing gear is provided free onsite. This engaging activity allows kids to hone their fishing skills. They also learn about the food web and the damage that can be done by invasive species in the lake.
Fish Species Caught At The Fishing Pier
• Yellow perch
The Round Goby is one of the biggest threats to Lake Erie Waters. This fish can live in both fresh and saltwater. An aggressive fish, gobies compete with others for food and space. Luckily, walleyes and water snakes love gobies. If you catch a goby, don’t throw it back! It can be fed to the fish housed at the center.
Children’s Programs At the Aquatic Center
Almost every Saturday all summer long, the center also feature programs for kids on the dock. The team at the center develops programs based around fascinating and fun topics. Some past programs included:
• Bugs in the Water
• Birds of the Lake Erie Islands
• Animals of the Lake Erie Watershed
• Taking Care of Lake Erie’s Fish
• Our Friend the Spider
• Live Snake Show
• Fun with Fish
• What is Plankton?
• Underwater Exploration
Location And Things To See In The Area
The Aquatic Visitors Center is on the north and western end of Put-in-Bay near Peach Orchard Point. The address is 360 West Shore Blvd. A visit is free for the whole family. Guided tours cost $4. It can be walked from the downtown area however a Put-in-Bay Golf Cart is much more convenient. While in the area, be sure to stop by the Alfred Parker Park just a few minutes away. If paddle boarding is your thing the views near the center are stunning! Fur a fun way to build a little teamwork catch the Put-in-Bay Rolling Pub.