By Matthew Lewis, Contributing Reporter
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – The Sandoway Discovery Center will be opening its doors to the public today, Tuesday, May 19th at 10AM, as the City of Delray Beach starts reopening. Sandoway is a coastal ecosystems and marine life center that offers educational exhibits and programs in a historic home, directly across A1A facing the beach.
Starting today visitors will once again have access to the coral tanks and reptile room, the new and improved shell room, animal encounters and the outside butterfly garden. Danica Sanborn, Executive Director, shares, “We are very excited to safely open and teach environmental education to our visitors.”
Adding, “Even though we cannot offer our big feedings at this time, we will be doing smaller touchless, animal encounters so that people still get the chance to learn about our animals and their ecosystems!”
With the coronavirus is still around and the State of Florida still in “Phase 1” of reopening, the center will be operating at 25 percent capacity and tickets are available online only for a contactless experience. All visitors are required to wear masks while in the center.
There will also not be interactive exhibits or touch-tanks at this time, and the Children’s Room will be closed to the public, and the the restroom will be closed. However Sanborn explains, “we have plenty of space outside to spread out and learn in a safe and socially distant manner.”
She continues, “where else can you talk with a marine biologist and find out interesting facts about marine life? Or a Naturalist that can tell you the feeding habits of local wildlife? Our butterfly garden is more beautiful than ever and our shell exhibit has been redone so it’s even better than ever.”
The Sandoway Discovery Center offers a glimpse into South Florida’s fragile marine and freshwater environments through educational exhibits and programs. At Sandoway visitors will find interactive educational exhibits and programs ‘designed to inspire the minds of young children, future botanists, oceanographers, marine biologists and researchers’.
Sandoway opened its doors in 1998 and attracts students, teachers, naturalists, community leaders, visitors and residents of Delray Beach and surrounding communities. The unique facility offers hands-on learning experiences, which focus on Florida’s fragile ecosystems and their inhabitants.
Visitors of all ages can get an up-close view of some of Florida’s native and invasive reptile species. From sharks and other fish at the coral reef pool, explore Southeast Florida’s largest private shell collection and join us for special events such as Earth Day and beach clean-ups.
Ms. Sanborn admits it has been a hard couple months. “The coronavirus has had a severe impact on the Sandoway Discovery Center as is the case with other non-profits and small businesses. Sandoway closed its doors to the public as of March 17th, and we lost thousands of dollars in revenue due to lack of admission, gift shop purchases, membership and adoption sales as well as school field trip and birthday party cancellations.”
She explains, “Unfortunately we closed during our busy season so it will be hard to make up those funds. Staff worked at the center throughout the pandemic, to make sure our rescued animals and tanks were taken care of and maintained properly.”
The nature center’s normal activities include daily shark and stingray feedings plus twice a week alligator feedings.They also offer the Junior Naturalist programs for at-risk youth and group education programs such as field trips, live animal exhibits, fossil digs and more.
The Friends of Sandoway House Nature Center, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about Delray’s coastal and marine ecosystems and natural history.