One of the most interesting places to visit on Delmarva is the Delmarva Discovery Center in Pocomoke. Housed in a sturdy red brick building that is itself part of the history of the region, it is a great place to learn about the nature, people, and history of life from Cape Charles to the Chesapeake and Rock Hall to Ocean City.
There’s an amazing amount of information and number of displays shoehorned into the building. Director Brian Garrett delights in showing it all off to visitors. Here’s a Native American wigwam constructed in the traditional way by local Native peoples; crawl inside the human-scale model of a beaver dam; check out the aging market hunting float. He stops by the walk-through mock-up of a steamboat wharf. “We’re always trying to think of ways to make things more interactive while still being educational. I’m trying to figure out a way to show how they used pulleys to load cargo. It’ll teach the physics as well as the history.”
A lot of people offer to donate artifacts to the Center. Usually those offers are turned down. “We don’t have anywhere to store them, first of all. And we don’t want to take something that we can’t display.” There’s also the fear of becoming an annex to Grandma’s attic by accepting lots of things that families don’t want to keep but would feel guilty about hauling to the landfill.
This spring the newest display opened. The Reef Tank shows the geologic history of Delmarva’s waters with corals and fish, including the Atlantic Sturgeon. The needle-nosed fish has been swimming around for something like 40,000 years. They were so plentiful that they were once considered a nuisance. But between their caviar and products that could be made from them, Sturgeon is now severely endangered. The specimens cruising along in the tank may be the only ones you’ll ever see. There’re also gar (looking like the stretch limo of aquatic life), largemouth bass, and bluegills, several types of crustaceans, and corals and anemones swaying in the current. This is one of those exhibits where the more you look, the more you see.
One of the Center’s goals encouraging families to join as members. There are at least one or two special events each month, with the cost included in the daily admission. But that racks up quickly during a year. Most of the events, though, are covered if you are already a member. Which means that a one-time $40 family membership gets you into every special event as well as all the visits you want to make at any other time. (The regular admission is $10/adult $5/kid. Each visit.)
This weekend is an example of the special programs the Center puts on. “Reptiles Alive” is all about turtles, lizards, frogs, and – of course – snakes. There are special presentations hourly throughout the afternoon. Find out why spring peepers peep and other mysteries of nature. And learn a lot more about Delmarva. www.delmarvadiscoverycenter.org