LWRWC Tours South Florida Museum
Thirty-five members from the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club (LWRWC) enjoyed a memorable guided tour of the world class South Florida Museum on Wednesday, January 20, 2016. This local treasure is the largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Located in Bradenton’s picturesque Riverwalk area, the museum also houses the region’s premier astronomy education facility, the Bishop Planetarium, and the famous Parker Aquarium that is the permanent home of Snooty, the oldest known manatee in the world.
The LWRWC members began their adventure in the amazing Bishop Planetarium where they experienced an incredible virtual voyage of billions of light-years through time and space to explore the mysteries of the universe. The journey afforded them an up close and personal look at planets, stars, solar systems, galaxies, and the vast universe, all without leaving the comfort of the reclining seats in the state of the art digital full dome multimedia planetarium theater.
The ladies went from macro to the micro as the viewed the planet Earth from the vantage point of outer space and then zoomed in for a closer look, including an exceptionally detailed view of their current location in Florida. But the journey did not end there, and there was a collective moment of wonder as they traveled through a redwood forest, approached a large tree and entered one of its leaves. Adjusting their perspective to microscopic scales inside a cell, they experienced the inner workings, learning about the role of DNA and the process of photosynthesis.
After the breathtaking and inspiring planetarium experience, the ladies began their tour with a close look at the over 138 lb. perfectly preserved fragment of the Campo del Cielo meteorite that fell to earth in 2500 BCE.
Then on to more virtual “time travel” as they explored Florida’s Gulf Coast from the Pleistocene to the present via a fabulous guided tour. Highlights included a fascinating look at fossil evidence of Florida’s earliest mammals and marine species and the Montague Tallant collection of prehistoric and early post-contact archeological artifacts.
The tour included a brief exploration of the recently opened Environmental Wing focusing on Florida’s ecology and bio-diversity in the Pine Uplands and Riverine Galleries and then headed to the Parker Manatee Aquarium’s pool filled with close to 60,000 gallons of water, to meet the permanent resident, 68 year old Snooty and his three young male manatee companions who are being rehabilitated in preparation for release.
Snooty, the world’s oldest manatee eats 100 pounds of fresh veggies daily at a cost of around $30,000 annually and is still going strong. The pool offers both deep and shallow water, allowing the manatees to maintain natural feeding behaviors. An exhibit area within the facility offers above and below water viewing.
The wonderful visit culminated with a fascinating presentation by Manatee Care specialists about manatee habitat, nutrition, feeding habits, diet and physiology. They also discussed their rehabilitation and release program. It was a moving and lovely experience to watch the manatees being hand fed and to see these gentle giants play with their friends.
With thoughts of tasty food and comradery, the ladies headed to the beautiful Pier 22 Restaurant on the Manatee River in for a delightful gourmet lunch and gorgeous water views. Entrée choices included Atlantic salmon: cranberry pineapple compote, risotto and vegetables; Chicken Chevre: grilled chicken, sundried tomato, goat cheese and basil; or Pasta Primavera: linguini Alfredo with mixed julienne vegetables. Each meal choice came with a small Pier 22 salad of mixed greens, balsamic vinaigrette, roasted pumpkin seeds, gorgonzola cheese and grape tomatoes and chocolate lava cake with fresh strawberries for dessert.
A special thanks to event Chair, Phyllis Fox, for coordinating an educational adventure, filled with fun and friendship that taught the members more about the amazing place they call home.