Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dr Nancy Foster Eco-Discovery Center

Science in the public interest, it's free to all comers and it's beautifully laid out and it will teach anyone a thing or two.

It's all about fish and corals and mangroves and birds and things.

Wetlands and beaches and dunes and Florida's astounding eco-system, much abused and taken for granted and struggling to survive get their moment in the limelight here.

Hammocks get a display too, not cloth sleeping platforms but lumps of dry dirt rising a few feet above surrounding inundated lands, typically found in the Keys and Everglades.

State employees do a valiant job teaching the public to respect our land and water.

And since I was last here the electronics seem to have expanded and improved. The are lots of interactive screens to press and watch and listen to.

The center is itself an example of what could be done if public officials in the Sunshine State had a clue. Sod and solar panels on the roof reduce interior heat and create electricity.

That solar panels aren't everywhere in the Keys is a disgrace but a few hardy pioneers like the Eco Center and the Key West High School are trying to lead the public horse to water, in a manner of speaking. Lots of visitors like the Hogfish restaurant on Stock Island but I wonder if they know what it's namesake looks like?

Then there is the big yellow cylinder that replicates the undersea laboratory that lives nine miles south of Key Largo in sixty feet of water.

Scientists live down there for extended periods supplied with all the necessities, including phones and Internet by a buoy floating on the surface. Children of all ages can wander through this replica to get a feel for the last form of "space travel" left to us now that Russia rules Outer Space alone.

In fact not only marine scientists choose to make use of Aquarius, but they also tell us proudly NASA used to use it to simulate living conditions in space. Perhaps they still do for our astronauts traveling as guests in Russia's rockets.

It seems a rather Spartan life to me, despite the Internet and cell phone coverage looking out through little port holes.

The have bunk beds and a kitchen and to come back to the surface they have to spend hours decompressing to clear the nitrogen from their blood.

It is all terribly elaborate and very useful they tell us.

Then there are the water tanks breeding corals and fish and not very easy to photograph successfully and outside the sun shines on those solar panels on the roof.

A big old brain coral sculpture to remind you where you are,
down at the Truman Waterfront.

Our enemies keep telling us government is the problem not the solution.

The Eco-Discovery center shows that generalizations are not worth the hot air they flown on.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

No comments: