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Local Master Gardeners visit Stone Lab on Lake Erie island

By PEGGY CASE • Sep 6, 2017 at 11:02 AM

GIBRALTAR ISLAND — Stone Lab is The Ohio State University's island campus on Lake Erie. Do you know this place?

Stone Lab is located on Gibraltar Island, which is just offshore of South Bass Island — the home of Put-in-Bay. The 6.55-acre Gibraltar is part of Ottawa County’s Put-in-Bay Township.

Part of its research involves water quality in Lake Erie.

The Stone Lab OSU campus is a full-service campus with dormitories, dining hall, classrooms, library and a computer lab. Forty-four 240-watt solar panels provide energy for the hot water used by the dining hall. Also on the Island is the Cooke Castle, former home of financier Jay Cooke. This 15-room Victorian home is currently being renovated and may in the future be available for events.

In August, several Huron County Master Gardeners met in Put-in-Bay to water taxi to Gibralter Island for a tour and lecture. Two OSU grads, Kaitlin Ulin and Meghan Coleman, shared Stone Lab’s history and current programs for students and others.

The OSU grads displayed snakes and dryly added, “All the students know at the beginning they will be expected to handle snakes, so we get used to it.”

The snakes were very tame and everyone had a chance to touch them, though some of the Master Gardeners were not as interested in handling them as others.

Master Gardener intern Cindy Capelle enjoyed holding a snake and learning about its movements. The group learned that the scientists put down heavy dark mats to lure snakes. In the morning, snakes gather under the mats where it is warm from the morning sun. When the guide jerked away the mat, there were several snakes beneath it, soaking up the warmth.

Although OSU's Stone Lab has been operating for about 100 years, it is only recently that outside students, classes and groups are offered the opportunity to visit and attend a lecture. A field trip planned for a lecture at Stone Lab also includes lunch in the dining hall.

Some of the lecture topics include: lake water quality, invertebrate collection, exotic species, insect collecting, geology walk and talk, herpetology (including snakes), bird hikes, fish seining and climate study.

Visits can be one-day field trips or one to five week courses. Visit www.stonelab.osu.edu for information about field trips, classes, courses, costs and times and scholarships or work/study plans.

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