​Guests on the Marine Discovery Center’s boat tours will enjoy two new offerings this year designed to provide deeper understanding of the diversity of the Indian River Lagoon’s marine species, as well as its challenges.​

The new two-hour boat tours include the Creature Connections tour, which utilizes a trawl net for up-close view of marine life, while the Know What’s Below tour provides a greater understanding of what’s in the water, utilizing microscopes for analysis.

“There is so much interpretation that is hard to do without further exploration, and that’s the idea behind these two new tours,” said MDC Executive Director Chad Truxall. “Our naturalists will use different tools to help guests really understand what is found throughout the water column — not just what we may see on the surface or jumping in and out of the water.”

​Conducted under the regulations of an aquatics species collection permit with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the tour’s naturalist will lower a trawl net to bring onboard a variety of species for guests to view up close on the Creature Connections tour.

​The Creature Connection tour’s trawl net will sweep the bottom of the lagoon floor for less than five minutes. The net is then hauled onto the bow of the boat and captured species are placed into containers for observation and discussion. The creatures are returned to the water or placed into a rotating exhibit at the center for the public to enjoy before their release.

Examples of marine species that might be found during this tour are flounder, stingrays, jellyfish, crustaceans, crabs, squid, mantis shrimp and sea hare.

“I’m looking forward to our Creature Connections boat tour because it’s so different to bring animals onboard that people don’t normally get to see — creatures that aren’t usually visible from the boat,” said MDC naturalist Charity Jackson. “For example, when was the last time you saw a squid?”

The Know What’s Below boat tour explores plankton to plastics to help guests understand what lies below the surface of the Indian River Lagoon.

This tour takes a closer look at pollution, phytoplankton and microplastics in the marine world through collection of water samples.

Onboard microscopes and analyzing apparatus provide an even closer look for children and adults, alike.

“The idea is to find microplastics and to talk to people about that, but it’s also an opportunity for them to see the phytoplankton and microscopic organisms they would not normally see on the regular Dolphin Discovery Tours,” said MDC naturalist Tess Sailor-Tynes.

Truxall believes the addition of the two new tours will not only offer greater variety to MDC guests hoping to explore the lagoon, but will also provide a deeper understanding of the lagoon’s diversity and concerns.

“This is a whole new way of interpreting the lagoon for our staff and our community,” Truxall added. “Any time we can show something different about this lagoon with a fresh new spin, it can offer a new way for people to connect.”

For more information about all of our boat tours and to book your seat, visit our Boat Tour Page.