Touch Tank

August 7, 2020
Why a Touch Tank?

What’s the best way to show why stewardship of the watershed matters? A Touch Tank seemed the answer because it would give people of all ages the chance to interact with sea creatures they might have never seen. The first person we asked for advice was Dom Gioia, Captain of the Lively Lady and co-owner with his wife Liz of Camden Harbor Cruises.

We were shocked when Dom told us we could never leave the creatures alone because children, so accustomed to virtual animals, would not know how to handle them without hurting them. He then told us we needed a license, and to know how to care properly for the animals, and most important that he would help us. Dom introduced us to Steve Pixley Camden’s Harbor Master – who was a tremendous help and supporter.

The first touch tank was part of the library’s celebration of World Oceans Day offered by Liz Gioia. (Photo below – far left). It was such a success that we knew we wanted to offer a Touch Tank the following summer.

In 2018 and 2019 we arranged for Herring Gut Learning Center to bring a mobile touch tank to Camden Harbor. Their staff introduced the animals, which included a young and feisty lobster, a horseshoe crab, smaller Jonah and Rock crabs, the invasive green crab, scallops, whelks, starfish, periwinkles, and anemones. We had expected children to be enthralled, but found that adults were just as interested in creatures that lives in the ocean around us. At least 250 people visited the Touch Tanks each day, many from local families.

S.E.A. looked forward to introducing its own mobile touch tank in the summer of 2020, but the pandemic made that impossible. Instead, S.E.A. is planning to take the tank and marine animals to local schools and other institutions as soon as possible. S.E.A. will also bring a model of the watershed to show how polluting the water upstream with litter, pesticides, or other toxins damages the entire watershed including ocean.