Come on in

The Bay Education Center is now open to the public. A ribbon cutting marking the occasion was held Thursday, Jan. 30.

The University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) and its Mission-Aransas Reserve program officially reopened the Bay Education Center (BEC) with a Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting Thursday, Jan. 30.

Hurricane Harvey heavily damaged the BEC, which is located at the entrance to Rockport Beach (121 Seabreeze Dr.).

With support from the Aransas County Navigation District (ACND) and City of Rockport, the BAC has been repaired and it is ready to receive visitors.

It provides visitors with an innovative way of exploring and learning about local estuaries and the life they support. The permanent exhibits are still under construction, but a temporary art installation - “Oceans of Plastic” - by Corpus Christi artist Shelia Rogers, presents captivating, beautiful pieces of art that will inspire and provoke reflection about our oceans and the way we interact with them.

The BAC’s unique Science on a Sphere® is back, as well. It is a giant, animated globe that runs pre-programmed shows and live feedback data from planet earth to educate visitors about matters of Earth Science and environmental understanding.

The BAC is owned by the ACND and operated by UTMSI and its Mission-Aransas Reserve program.

The Buddy Davidson Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Disaster provided funding for the exhibits.

Teal Construction, the same company that built the Aransas County Independent School District’s competition gym, is the BAC contractor.

UTMSI will lease the BEC from the ACND for $1 per year for five years. The lease has two five-year options.

The BAC is open with reduced hours, noon to 4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday.

There is no charge to enter the facility.

(Note: The BEC was first constructed on land provided by the ACND. The University of Texas Marine Science Institute provided the majority of the original construction funds, with the City of Rockport providing construction funds, too. The city gave its insurance proceeds ($528,333.16) to the ACND, which in turn was used to repair the BEC. The city has a connection with the BEC today.)

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