The Marine Science Center is a natural history museum and marine science center in the heart of Ponce Inlet in Volusia County, Florida with living exhibits that show some of the ecosystems found in wild Florida. Established in 2002, the Museum is dedicated to encouraging the public to take an interest in the surrounding marine environment and the animals that live in it, as well as the rehabilitation and conservation of marine fauna and flora.
The Marine Science Center features rehabilitation programs for turtles and seabirds, as well as fascinating and informative exhibits and displays, a 5,000-gallon artificial reef aquarium in the shape of a hexagon, a bird observation tower, a family-friendly nature trail, and a range of educational programs. Exhibits include the giant skull of a humpback whale, a string ray touch pool with cow nose rays and other fascinating marine creatures, and a classroom lab.
The hands-on 13-foot-long, 1,400-gallon aquatic touch pool is home to several cow nose stingrays and hermit crabs, and more, which are all safe to touch. The immersive aquatic pool allows visitors interact with Atlantic stingrays and cow nose rays, several kinds of fish, including Atlantic bumper, Atlantic spadefish and a permit, and a variety of invertebrates such as anemones, hermit crabs, horseshoe crabs, and sea urchins. The exhibit features individual floating trays that allow visitors to handle the smaller animals safely without hurting them.
The Bird Observation Tower give visitors the opportunity to soak up beautiful views of Ponce Inlet and experience sea birds such as cormorants, egrets, terns, and herons, as well as osprey, bald eagles, and Peregrine Falcons both on land and in flight. A handicap-friendly trail is ideal for observing the natural flora and fauna of Ponce Inlet.
One of the primary goals of the Marine Science Center is sea turtle rehabilitation, and since its founding in 2002, the Marine Science Center has cared for and rehabilitated for more than 15,000 hatchlings and washbacks, 900 juvenile and adult sea turtles, and nearly 1,000 freshwater turtles, snakes, and gopher tortoises. Visitors can view the hospital pools in the rehabilitation center from the Turtle Terrace, which is located at the front of the central facility and can watch the rehabilitated turtles recover in their natural habitat. All the animals that are cared for in the center are released upon full recovery.
The Mary Keller Seabird Rehabilitation Facility has received and cared for more than 13,000 birds from nearly 200 species since opening in 2004. Designed and fully equipped to care and treat injured and sick birds and then release them on recovery, the bird rehabilitation facility is named after Mary Keller, who dedicated more than 30 years to caring for sick and injured birds throughout Volusia County. In addition to caring for the birds, the facility also acts as an educational center for visitors to learn more about the rehabilitation of sea and other birds and how to preserve their precious environment.
In addition to the outstanding rehabilitation programs for turtles and seabirds, the Marine Science Center offers a variety of educational programs for visitors and learners of all ages, ranging from workshops and lectures to classes, activities, and community outreach programs. A classroom laboratory hosts special conferences and labs once a month, including Introduction to Birding, Shark Biology, and Squid Dissection, as well as research programs such as Satellite Tracking of Sea Turtles, Diving, and Fishing Artificial Reefs, and Preserving the Coral Ecosystem. Special programs and events during the year include the popular Turtle Tot Program, which sees baby turtles being released into the wild.
The Marine Science Center is located at 100 Lighthouse Drive in Ponce Inlet in Florida and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 am until 5:00 pm during the summer. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm and Sunday from 12:00 am until 4:00 pm during the winter months. The Marine Science Center Gift Shop offers a wide variety of merchandise for all ages including books, educational items, toys, clothing, gold and silver jewelry and garden treasures.
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100 Lighthouse Drive, Ponce Inlet, FL 32127, Phone: 386-304-5545