Free summer programs at Padilla Bay nature center

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 4, 2014 

BAYVIEW - Many openings remain for free summertime programs and classes for all ages at the Breazeale Interpretive Center, part of the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in coastal Skagit County.

Most classes for "junior ecologists" in the 6- to 9-year-old age group are filled and have online waiting lists, but many other offerings have space available - including family and adult programs and "mini-explorers" in the 3- to 5-year-old group.

Classes and programs include the popular Beach Seines - in which a net is dragged through the eelgrass so participants can examine life in the shallow Padilla Bay - and the Mudflat Safaris, which are guided explorations into the bay's eelgrass meadows during extreme low tides. Both Beach Seines and Mudflat Safaris are offered several times throughout the summer.

A highlight of the adult education series is a lecture on the sea-star wasting syndrome that is killing the multi-legged creatures. It's given by Western Washington University researcher Ben Miner and is from 2-3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22. There's a "Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants" class and outing offered at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 7, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 8, with naturalist Marlee Osterbauer.

Registration is required - with limited space available - for most of the programs.

One event that requires no registration is the quarterly aquarium tour and fish feeding, at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, in which the center's aquarist Mark Olson gives a behind-the-scenes look at the center's aquariums that showcase the marine life of Padilla Bay.

For more information about the Padilla Bay reserve and the nature center, go online to padillabay.org. Register for classes online by using the "sign up for classes and presentations" link on the home page or call 360-428-1558.

The Breazeale Interpretive Center, which features aquariums and natural history exhibits focusing on the Salish Sea and nearby Padilla Bay, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at 10441 Bayview-Edison Road, Bay View. Parking is free and the center has clean restroom and several miles of trails, including beach access. Admission to the center is free, but donations are accepted.

Reach Robert Mittendorf at 360-756-2805 or robert.mittendorf@bellinghamherald.com.

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