About Marine Discovery Center

The Marine Discovery Center has spent over 25 years informing and educating citizens and guests about the amazing biodiversity of the Indian River Lagoon.

Tagged as the most biologically diverse estuary in North America, the Indian River Lagoon boasts more than 4,000 species and spans 156 miles down Florida’s east coast — providing countless ways to engage the public. Programs at MDC for all ages are designed to offer hands-on, feet-wet learning opportunities through classes, camps, lectures, boat and kayak eco-tours with certified naturalists and teachers.

MDC’s daily eco-tours and monthly free public lectures help visitors understand the ecology of the Lagoon. Camps, field trips, and other education offerings allow children from pre-K through high school (and beyond) to experience our local ecosystems. Coastal ecosystem and other supplemental classes are offered through the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP) at the center multiple times throughout the year.

Working with area colleges and universities, as well as environmental conservation groups, the center also provides opportunities for citizen scientists to become personally involved in restoration and sustainability activities, such as oyster-shell recycling, shoreline restoration, water-quality testing, invasive-plant eradication, sea grass surveys and horseshoe crab surveys.

In addition to our education and conservation science programs, MDC also hosts (and co-hosts) various special events throughout the year including fundraisers, symposiums, and galas. The center always boasts a busy calendar!

The nonprofit Marine Discovery Center is now housed in the former administration building of New Smyrna Beach High School, which operated on the 22-acre site from 1963-2006. Prior to the school’s construction, the site was a natural salt marsh.

Through grant funding in 2014, 5½ acres of salt marsh was restored on the land adjacent to the current MDC building, followed by construction of a butterfly garden, nature play area, a 29-foot observation mound overlooking estuarine waters, an archery range and a living shoreline demonstration area. Future plans include construction of an amphitheater and kayak storage and launch area.

Widely recognized as a regional resource for the Indian River Lagoon, the Marine Discovery Center is centered on education and outreach in an effort to preserve, protect and restore the lagoon for generations to come.

Admission to our facility & grounds is FREE!
Tours, education programs, and other special events have associated fees.

Our Welcome Center hours are:
Mon – Fri  |  9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sat & Sun  |  9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
(check our calendar for boat & kayak tour times)

Our Mission:

“To protect and restore Florida’s coastal and Indian River Lagoon ecosystems
through education, research and community stewardship.”