CEDAR KEY, Fla. — Visitors of all ages will get up close and personal with local history and wildlife at the next Seahorse Key open house, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m on Feb. 25.
A pop-up aquarium of ‘touch tanks’ will let families interact with living marine animals and reptiles collected from the Cedar Key area. Past aquariums have included seahorses, puffer fish and terrapin turtles.
During free guided tours of the island’s pre-Civil War lighthouse, guests will learn about the island’s place in U.S. history, visit the cemetery and climb up to the top of the lighthouse.
“I will talk about the history of the lighthouse from the time it was built in 1854, as well as the effect of the Civil War on the island and the Cedar Key area. You’ll also hear a story or two about local blockade runners,” said Toni Collins, president of the Levy County Historical Society and one of three volunteers leading the tours.
Decommissioned in 1915, the light station now regularly hosts school groups, scientists and artists through programs supported by the Nature Coast Biological Station, part of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. The island is only open to the general public during open house events.
Located three miles off Cedar Key in the Gulf of Mexico, Seahorse Key is part of the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge and home to the Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory. The laboratory is managed by UF/IFAS, UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Santa Fe College.
Guests can reach the island by water taxis available at the Cedar Key docks or are welcome to use their own boats. To learn more about Seahorse Key, go to the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station website, or call Mendy Allen at 352-222-8585. Water taxi fees vary by service.
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