Soaking Up Science in Woods Hole

For such a tiny seaside village that boasts fewer than 1,000 residents, Woods Hole has a boatload of science going on. Home to prestigious research facilities and dozens of Nobel Prize laureates, this “epicenter of scientific research” offers five don’t-miss adventures for Cape Cod visitors.

1) Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL)
Founded in 1888, the world-renowned MBL is an international center for research and education in biological and environmental science. Thousands of visiting scientists, research associates, students, and faculty from around the world arrive at MBL annually to conduct research, attend conferences, and participate in the laboratory’s graduate-level courses.

Pay a visit to the Pierce Exhibit Center and peruse colorful exhibits that tell the story of the center and its work. The MBL offers hour-long, guided summer tours that include a visit to the Marine Resources Center to view marine animals used in research, a stop at the MBLWHOI Library, and a walking tour of the campus.

2) Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
Created in 1930, WHOI is the largest independent oceanographic research institution in the U.S. Visit the Exhibit Center where state-of-the-art, child-friendly displays encourage interaction with tools and vehicles used to explore the world’s oceans. There’s even a full-scale mock-up of the submarine that explored the Titanic, along with actual recordings of whales and dolphins.

Free seasonal walking tours led by knowledgeable volunteers guide visitors through the WHOI dock area and other restricted village facilities. You’ll learn all about the Institution’s history and the fascinating research conducted at WHOI.

The popular Science Made Public summer lecture series presented by WHOI scientists and engineers provides lay audiences with a great opportunity to learn more about WHOI science.

3) Woods Hole Historical Museum
Enjoy free science walking tours throughout the summer along with two special exhibits:

  • Gallery One’s “Navigating the Seas in the Age of Sail” reveals the century-old maritime charts and navigation tools that Cape Cod fishermen used to guide them before the invention of electronic devices.
  • Gallery Two’s “Man and Mollusk: A History of Shellfishing on Cape Cod” exhibit provides a historical overview of the shellfish found in local waters and the vintage tools that were used to gather them.

4) Woods Hole Science Aquarium (WHSA)
Established in 1885, the WHSA is America’s oldest marine aquarium and an ideal place for kids. The free admission and access to approximately 140 species of marine animals found in Northeast and Middle Atlantic waters make for a delightful family afternoon.

The stars of the aquarium are the non-releasable harbor seals that reside in the 17,000-gallon pool. The twice-a-day feeding and training times are open to the public.

Touch tanks house fascinating sea creatures including lobsters, starfish, horseshoe crabs, spider crabs, and hermit crabs. Kids can go behind the scenes and watch staff prepare fish food, feed the animals, check the life support equipment, and clean the tanks.

5) Woods Hole Outreach Center
The marine touch tank at the Outreach Center is stocked with animals that live in Buzzards Bay. Kids can hold crabs, sea urchins, fish, snails, and bay scallops in gentle hands. Try to go at feeding time so kids can help feed the sea creatures.

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