Examine fish, crabs and other creatures that come up in the net. Get rare close looks at historic lighthouses. Or just enjoy a lovely evening out on Long Island Sound during public cruises offered in August by The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.
“There’s still plenty of summer left, and plenty of opportunities to come out on the Sound with us,” said Dave Sigworth, the Aquarium’s spokesman.
“We have cruises that are great for kids and adults, where we bring up some of the animals that make the Sound a vibrant marine environment,” Sigworth said. “We have cruises for lighthouse buffs that get you close to lighthouses that you can barely see from shore … if at all. And we have cruises on weekend evenings that are just a relaxing chance to unwind out on the water with friends.”
The following cruises are available in August aboard The Maritime Aquarium’s R/V Spirit of the Sound, a 64-foot catamaran that is the country’s first research vessel with quiet “green” hybrid- electric propulsion:
• “Marine Life Encounter Cruises” – Examine a variety of fish, crabs, mollusks and other creatures brought up right out of the Sound right before your eyes during these memorable 2.5-hour outings – the Aquarium’s signature cruises. Participants also help find crabs, worms and other animals hidden in the muddy bottom, and view plankton using a videomicroscope linked to the boat’s giant-screen monitor. “Marine Life Encounter Cruises” occur at 1 p.m. nearly daily through Labor Day. Tickets are $29.95 ($24.95 for Aquarium members).
• “TGIF Cruises” on Fridays and “Sunset Cruises” on Saturdays – Enjoy a fun, relaxing tour out toward the Norwalk islands as twilight paints the western sky, dazzlingly reflected on the water.
Both cruises depart at 6:30 pm in August.
Aquarium educators will point out sights and wildlife, but these 90-minute cruises mainly stress de-stressing.
Tickets for each are $29.95 ($19.95 for members). Food and drink are not available for purchase on the boat. You may bring food and beverages in a small bag or soft-sided cooler. Glass bottles are prohibited.
• “Central Long Island Sound Lighthouse Cruise” on Sat., Aug. 19 – This cruise makes passes by five historic beacons: Peck Ledge, Greens Ledge and Sheffield Island lighthouses in Norwalk, and also Penfield Reef Lighthouse in Fairfield and Stratford Shoal (Middle Ground) Light.
Aquarium staff will share histories and anecdotes about all the beacons. The five-hour cruise departs at 10:00 a.m. Tickets are $70 ($60 for members).
Food and drink are not available for purchase on the boat. You may bring food and beverages in a small bag or soft-sided cooler. Glass bottles are prohibited.
For the two “Lighthouse Cruises,” The Maritime Aquarium now participates in the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s Lighthouse Passport program, a fun way to officially log your lighthouse adventures. Bring along your Passport, or buy one aboard R/V Spirit of the Sound.
Aquarium staff will stamp your Passport for every lighthouse seen. Also, members of the U.S. Lighthouse Society receive 10% discounts on the Aquarium’s “Lighthouse Cruises.”
For all cruises, participants must be at least 42 inches tall to board. Those under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
R/V Spirit of the Sound has a climate-controlled cabin but participants should dress for time outside on deck, where the best viewing occurs.
Capacity is limited so advance reservations are strongly suggested for all Aquarium cruises.
Reserve your tickets online – and see the full schedule for R/V Spirit of the Sound – at www.maritimeaquarium.org. Or call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.