The South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Nature Center
A Beacon of Hope on the Texas Coast...
A Wintertexan trip
wouldn't be complete without a romp in the Gulf with the state's beautiful wild dolphin population. This year, in particular, affords a special opportunity to become acquainted with the dolphins of the Laguna Madre Bay in deep South Texas coastal waters.
For well over 7 years now, George & Scarlet Colley
of Fin2Feather Tours
on the Island have been researching and documenting the lives of Lower Coast dolpins and have, more or less, become adopted members of the local pod(s). It becomes quickly apparent when you're on their boat that the dolphins recognize the boat, the Colley's
and their wonderful dolphin dogs, Ceta
. If you happen to be on board, you are rewarded with a warm greeting from the dolphins as if you were a part of the family!
Given the passion for their work it only seems fitting, then, that it would eventually culminate in the opening of their newest venture, the South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Nature Center
. The center is located at 105 W. Pompano Street on South Padre Island, directly across the street from a favorite island hangout, Island Traders
The center is open Tuesday through Sunday each week with a 9a.m. presentation every morning. You can call the center at 956-454-4799 for more information.
The Colleys have accumulated local research for years and are anxious to share it with dolphin and wildlife lovers everywhere. Every trip with the dynamic nature duo is an educational experience, with never enough time on a single trip to "take it all in." It is the Colley's dream for the new center to help them to continue their research, and share the results with the world.
Visitors will enjoy the new center's two live-touch marine tanks where you can get acquainted with the local marine life up close. Eventually the team plans adding a shark tank. There is also a viewing room where visitors can see films and slides of the local marine and wildlife.
Scarlet and George have hosted and guided many notable film crews in the past, like NBC, FOX, BBC and PBS, all out to film the dolphins for various documentaries or features. However, the Colley's personal film footage covers more than just their dolphin research. They have a particularly wonderful piece created by their son, Seth, on the annual sea turtle hatchlings on South Padre Island beaches, and many wonderful and informative presentations on birdlife of the Rio Grande Valley.
In fact one of their future goals is to be certified as a bird rehab center. Many of our bird friends in the valley get injured or need assitance and well meaning people want to help but don't know where to turn,say the Colleys, and the research center wants to fill that need.
Funding for every new foundation is always important and it is no different for The South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Nature Center. It is their hope that by sharing their research they can motivate people to become involved with their cause and help them continue their research.
One of the ways people can help is by visiting the center and purchasing some of their many eco-friendly gifts. One such program is called the adopt-a-dolphin program, where you purchase a toy replica of one of the Laguna Madre dolphins and receive their bio and a monthly newsletter update from Scarlet on what's going on in the life of your adopted dolphin.
Also many of the outstanding photos they have taken over the years are available, and far more meaningful than most art work you could hang on your wall. They hope to expand their selection of eco-friendly gifts as the center grows. Unfortunately most of our visitors don't realize the gifts they buy in alot of shops are devasting our marine life and The South Padre Dolphin Research and Nature Center wants to give them a positive alternative.
Every fledgling foundation has a great need for volunteers and Winter Texans are encouraged to find a home away from home here! Perhaps you only have a couple of hours, or perhaps a talent you can lend, maybe an item you can donate. Any and all volunteer efforts are met with appreciation. George and Scarlett can be reached at 454-4799 with any questions you might have with regards to volunteering.
The bottom line is don't go home without stopping by The South Padre Island Dolphin Research and Nature Center, taking a dolphin trip with Fin2Feather Tours and hopefully volunteering in some capacity, it gives you a better appreciation of these beautiful waters you come to see season after season!
In closing, I would like to refer you to my own personal and first time experience of Dancing with Dolphins
and know your trip will be as meaningful as mine, thanks to Fin2Feather Tours
! - Carla Land, About.com Adventure Travel Guide
Photos courtesy of Fin2Feather Tours.