The Aquatic Visitors Center on Put-in-Bay, displays the wonders of Lake Erie and her islands for all to enjoy. This freshwater field laboratory is made possible by the Ohio Sea Grant. With educational exhibitions, hands on activities, and its own fishing pier, the Aquatics Visitor Center is both fun as well as educational for the whole family.
In partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife, the Aquatic Visitors Center served as the State Fish Hatchery at Put-in-Bay from 1907 to 1988. For over 80 years, this hatchery raised a variety of fish species. This helped preserve the rich ecology of Lake Erie.
This species include all the fish species we enjoy catching from Lake Erie today. This includes walleye, sauger, whitefish, herring, yellow perch, coho salmon, chinook salmon, and also steelhead. The hatchery used hatching jars, raceways, and other artifacts to raise the fish. These are still on display today.
Lake Erie is a magical place enjoyed by thousands every year. However there is still pressing problems facing this area. In conjunction with Stone Laboratory, the Ohio Sea Grant and the ODNR Division of Wildlife spearhead the research.
Visitors to the Aquatic Center can learn all about the current research projects conducted by a dedicated team of scientists and students. Among the many projects are investigations into walleye tracking, aquatic invasive species, the dead zone, and fish biology.
Aquatic Center Activities
• Investigate Lake Erie’s complex ecosystem with activities
• Closely observe Lake Erie fish species
• Learn about all the current research being done to protect Lake Erie
• Ask Aquatic Visitors Center experts questions about this special ecosystem
• Fishing on the pier
Kids under 16 are invited to fish on the pier for free. The ODNR also provides fishing gear onsite. This engaging feature allows kids to perfect their fishing skills. They also learn about the food web and the damage that can be done by invasive species in the lake.
Fish Species at the Fishing Pier
• Yellow perch
One of the biggest threats to Lake Erie is the Round Goby. This fish can live in both fresh and saltwater. An aggressive fish, gobies compete with others for food and space. Luckily, walleyes and water snakes love gobies. If you catch a goby, don’t throw it back! It can be fed to the fish housed at the center.
Summers at the Center also feature programs for kids almost every Saturday on the dock. The team at the center develops programs based around fascinating and fun topics. Some previous programs included:
• Animals of the Lake Erie Watershed
• Birds of the Lake Erie Islands
• Bugs in the Water
• Fun with Fish
• Live Snake Show
• Our Friend the Spider
• Taking Care of Lake Erie’s Fish
• Underwater Exploration
• What is Plankton?
The Aquatic Visitors Center is on the northern end of Put-in-Bay right by Peach Orchard Point. The address is 360 West Shore Blvd. Also a quick walk from downtown, a visit is free for the whole family. Guided tours cost $4.