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Have you been longing to reconnect with nature? Are you curious about the wide variety of plants and animal species native to the Coastal Bend? Are you in search of a guided hike through a pristine swath of nature, where birds fly about and wildlife thrives? Are your children intrigued by the world around them, constantly collecting bits of flora, fauna, or rocks? The Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve and Learning Center has something to offer for nature lovers of all ages and from all walks of life.
Every Friday morning, you can experience the bountiful, buzzing wetlands ecosystem by participating in one of the center’s guided nature hikes. If you are lucky, you may see an owl, a bobcat, turtles, or perhaps even a rare, brilliantly colored spoonbill, or a rare migratory bird. There is an abundance of wildlife in this unique habitat not only limited to birds, but reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals. The knowledgeable and passionate staff will guide visitors down winding trails and elucidate little known facts about the special nature of South Texas’s plant and animal life.
If you enjoy listening to lectures on our ecosystems, there is a speaker series where “Eco Experts” share a bit of their expertise on certain subjects; historians, biologists, conservationists, and even guest speakers from the hatchery will be on deck to share their knowledge with those who wish to learn more about the Coastal Bend’s fragile and intricate ecosystem.
In April, the long-awaited Exhibit Hall will open its doors to the curious, and visitors will be greeted by a crew of Animal Ambassadors, including an indigo snake, a milk snake, a box turtle, and some friendly gulf coast toads.
For young visitors, there is a large freshwater aquarium showcasing finned residents of the wetlands, as well as in innovative interactive watershed. This fantastic exhibit allows visitors to move sand about and visualize how movement of sediment topographically affects the watershed. For young naturalists who love to collect shells, stones, cicada casings, and bones, there is a Nature Trading Post. The children can turn in their discoveries from backyard or beach-combing excavations for points of for other items found in nature. A collection of acorns could be traded in for something larger and more exciting, like a javelina skull or an intricate shell. This system encourages children to spend time outdoors as well as to appreciate the natural world that surrounds them.
This is crucial in times were the soft blue light of machines draws us in like hapless moths to a bug-zapper. The Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve hopes to inspire a new generation of naturalists to emerge. “The ultimate goal of the center is to encourage children to get outside, into nature, and get them excited about our environment,” says Manuel Cantu, Program Manager. Adhering to the mission of educating the Coastal Bend on nature, there is copious informational signage throughout the center. For the art connoisseur, there are exceptional sculptures that embody the wild spirit of our distinct ecosystem. In addition to offering fantastic, unique glimpses into our wonderful wetlands, there are many volunteer opportunities available as well. One way or another, get involved!