What is an Estuary?

Estuaries are important nursery grounds for many organisms that later move to oceanic habitats as adults. These rich ecosystems are economically valuable, providing habitat at some life stage for 75% of our nation’s commercial fish catch, and as much as 90% of recreational fish catch. Additionally, estuaries act as natural filtration systems for water as it flows out to the ocean.

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Living Shorelines

Living shorelines are an erosion prevention method that use natural barriers such as plants, oysters, and limited rock to protect fragile shorelines while maintaining valuable habitat. Living shoreline projects utilize native and salt tolerant plants at different levels of elevation to avoid the loss of sediment, help to improve water quality via filtration of upland run off, and create habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species

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Get Involved!

At Marine Discovery Center we work to engage the community in the environmental research and restoration happening in our own backyard. We collaborate with environmental scientists, researchers, and universities around the state to bring diverse and informative programs to New Smyrna Beach to give volunteers the opportunity to assist with ongoing  projects.

Oyster mats, volcanoes, and Project Plankton are some of our opportunities that are open to the public. To get involved with restoration projects, horseshoe crab surveys, and other long-term volunteer programs you must first become an MDC Volunteer. Visit our volunteer page for information.

Public Volunteer Workshops

Oyster Mats |  Our popular Oyster Mat Workshops occur most Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and occasional Saturdays from 9am-12pm through June 24! We also added two evening workshops from 5:30-7:30pm on June 20 and 25. Join us as we build biodegradable oyster mats using recycled oyster shells from our Shuck and Share program. This opportunity is open to ages 10+. Volunteers 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Register online…

Project Plankton

MDC is monitoring the phytoplankton and zooplankton populations living in the Indian River Lagoon, right off our dock! By building this data set, we will be able to better understand the variety of life invisible to the naked eye and how plankton respond to environmental changes.

Volunteers will learn how to properly collect plankton, prepare plankton samples, and catalog species. This project is open to the public! We aren’t hosting trainings in the summer, but check back soon as we update our fall schedule!

Shuck and Share

Shuck and Share was created in 2014 to provide oyster shells for shoreline restoration projects in the Indian River Lagoon. Do your part by volunteering or ordering a dozen at one of our participating restaurant partners!

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Community Compost Program

Our community program is a great way to reduce your footprint and improve your gardens . . . for FREE! Drop your fruit & veggie scraps, coffee grounds, paper coffee filters, paper tea bags, and other compostable items into Bin #1, and bring a container to fill with finished compost from Bin #3! A big thanks to Lindley’s Garden Center and to these local businesses for their continued contributions to our compost: Mason Bar | Botanical House NSB | Lilly Rose Cafe | Island Roasters Coffee Company

Our bin is located north of our Welcome Center in our staff parking lot – click for a map!

Horseshoe Crab Nesting Surveys

Volunteers survey five locations within the lagoon searching for mating pairs nesting on shorelines. Walking surveys are conducted along shorelines, with volunteers assisting in locating and capturing the animals, as well as recording data and tagging the horseshoe crabs with numbered U.S. Fish & Wildlife tags. This opportunity is not currently open to the public; you must first become an MDC volunteer.

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Our Mission:

"To protect and restore Florida's coastal and Indian River Lagoon ecosystems
through education, research and community stewardship."