About Marine Discovery Center
The Marine Discovery Center has spent the last 20 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.
Educational 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. Twice each year, coastal ecosystem classes are offered through the Florida Master Naturalist Program at the center. In addition, a Lagoon Ambassadors program is offered annually to provide deeper knowledge about the estuary for citizens who wish to become more engaged in advocacy on municipal and regional levels.
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.
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.