Cool weather and a brisk breeze didn’t keep visitors away from the Florida State University Marine Lab open house.

On Saturday, April 20 the marine lab held its biannual open house which was attended by 1,038 visitors who arrived by bike boat and automobile.

Activities included mealworm races, fishing for sunglasses with a remotely operated vehicle normally used for scientific research and lessons in microscope use.

To encourage visitors to take in all the sites, volunteers distributed instructions for a scavenger hunt and those completing the sheet received a poster as a prize.

Dr. Tom Miller presented a talk on “Barrier Islands of Today and Tomorrow” and Dr. Jeff Chanton lectured on effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the food web in the Gulf of Mexico. There were also screenings of “Creatures of the Deep,” a WPBT documentary filmed in Florida

Perhaps the hit of the day was the marine lab’s new research vessel, the Apalachee.

Capt. Roseann Weglinski personally led tours of the 65-foot vessel. The Apalachee is equipped with a dive platform, and wet and dry laboratories. She sleeps seven and has a full kitchen. She has a range of 1,000 nautical miles and cruises at 18 to 20 knots. The Apalachee cost $1.6 million to build and outfit with research equipment and took over a year to construct.

Weglinski grew up in Panama City where she earned her first captain’s license.  She has worked as a shrimper and spent 13 years in the oilfields off the coast of Louisiana.

FSU marine lab spokesperson Mary Balthrop said the first open house was held there in May 1992. The open house was originally an annual event but is now held every two years so the next opportunity to tour the lab will be in May 2015.