Education and awareness are the most powerful tools we have to ensure that future generations will be as concerned for the well being of Planet Earth’s oceans and reefs as most of us in the hobby are today. I believe in this very strongly. No matter if it’s a facility such as the Sertoma Butterfly House, a zoo, classroom or 5 minutes spent in front of the tanks at my home with someone who otherwise would never think of the ocean and its creatures. If they learn something new there’s a chance they’ll take interest and become part of the solution.
This past spring, a generous gift made by a lifelong saltwater enthusiast was left to the Sertoma Butterfly House (SBH) in Sioux Falls, SD. Charles “Chuck” Purdy’s dying wish was that his beloved collection of corals, fish and invertebrates be passed on and cared for as deeply as he had in life. He wanted people to learn about the oceans and the animals that call it home. Administrators at SBH stepped up to the plate and on April 9th, 2011 the Purdy Marine Cove annex opened to the public.
The name Sertoma is an acronym for the founding clubs mission Service to Mankind and operates in accordance with the founding Noon Sertoma Club. Since its opening in 2002 SBH has operated as a non-profit educational facility which receives no funding from city, state or federal sources. All the funding collected by the organization is acquired through admissions, gift shop sales and charitable donations. With only 3 full time staff, part-timers and volunteers complete the great staff that makes SBH a great place to visit and learn.
Keeping in accordance with its mission, service to mankind is met through monthly educational topics and events. SBH also hosts a 3 day long summer day camp for youth in two age groups, 5 to 7 and 8 to 10 years old. Fins and Flutters gives children the chance to learn and explore marine environments and nature. The children learn while having fun, which is in my opinion the best guarantee the information their young minds take in will stick with them for life. The education doesn’t stop there. For the past 5 years SBH has been allowed to offer no-cost field trips for students Kindergarten through 5th grade from schools covering the region. This has been made possible with the help of the Floyd Grant, a grant that has been given to SBH for the past 5 years.
Grant C. Anderson is a Marine biologist with an impressive professional resume. His work has taken him all over the country and includes employment with Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans LA, the Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha NE, and the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas NV to name a few. Previous proprietor of Oceans of the Midwest, Grant now is employed part time by SBH as Purdy Marine Cove’s aquarium curator. He oversees and is responsible for the care of 12 aquarium exhibits which total nearly 2500 gallons, 1,924 of which is saltwater. Grant’s knowledge of and experience diving on natural marine ecosystems was the guiding light to some of the most impressive aquatic exhibits I’ve seen. He and his team of volunteers from the area and local reef clubs really knocked it out of the park when they worked together to aquascape each of the aquariums. If you ever get the opportunity to visit the Cove, plan on spending a couple of hours to take it all in.
- Soft Coral Reef- 470 gallon exhibit displaying soft corals of many types. You’ll also find Tangs, Oc. clowns, Hawkfish, clams and cleaner shrimp living on this reef.
- Danger!- A Port Jackson and Stonefish are on display in this 210 gallon fish only aquarium.
- Reef Builders- SPS, Tangs, Oc. and Saddleback clowns, Clams and other inverts inhabit the 600 gallon exhibit.
- Defensive- Visitors get the opportunity to see a White-mouthed Moray Eel and Picasso Clown Trigger in this 210 gallon FOWLR.
- Living together- Learn about symbiosis and take in the beauty of a big Blue Carpet Anemone that is host to Maroon clowns. 3 types of Urchins also call this 75 gallon tank home.
- Sea Grasses- This 75 gallon is home to Yellow Kuda Seahorses and Firefish. Various sea grass and macro algae make up the aquascape.
- A Freshwater Planted 125 gallon aquarium. Some of the cooler plants are the Japanese Moss Balls. Cory Catfish and Harlequin Rasboras swim and live among the plants.
- 125 Gallon African Cichlid- One of my favorite tanks in the cove. Various African Cichlids live on this Rift biotope.
- Stingy- This tank is set up to house a few different Anemones. Rose and Green BTA’s along with a LTA share this 120 gallon display with Ocellaris Clowns, A Blue Hippo Tang and a blue Linkia Starfish.
- Burrowers- A mated pair of Yellow Headed Jawfish make this 29 gallon FOWLR fun to watch.
- Lagoon- 210 gallons. This is a pretty impressive tank. There is a good amount of all types of corals found only in the turbulent waters of the worlds lagoons. Tangs and Dartfish along with some of the bigger clams I’ve seen in my area complete the scene perfectly.
- Cichlids too- Another 210 gallon aquarium set up to further educate the public about African Cichlids
Again, if you ever find yourself in Sioux Falls, SD this might be someplace you’d want to stop and check out. You can do just that year round, though the hours change a bit from summer to winter, the Sertoma Butterfly House and Purdy Marine Cove are open 7 days a week.