Take a Boat Tour with MDC!

Take a Boat Tour with MDC!

Roger Horse Conch

Get to know the Indian River Lagoon with the many boat ecotours offered by the Marine Discovery Center!

You’re sure to encounter an array of wildlife including dolphins, manatees (seasonal), turtles, fish, and a wide variety of birds while cruising on our comfortable 40 passenger pontoon boat, Discovery. We invite you to join our certified naturalists on an adventure you’ll never forget. Explore your waters with MDC!

Regular Boat Tours

Dolphin Discovery Tour

Travel the Indian River Lagoon on our classic daily 2-hour journey with one of our friendly certified Florida naturalists who will share information about the lagoon’s wildlife through narration and hands-on specimens. Dolphins, manatees, wading birds and sea turtles are often seen during these tours. As your captain skillfully navigates the backwaters of the lagoon, you will experience Florida’s natural beauty while learning about conservation efforts to preserve and protect North America’s most biologically diverse estuary.

Sunset Boat EcoCruise

This special 2-hour evening cruise along the Indian River Lagoon allows you to view the fantastic colors of a Florida sunset. We’ll travel north past sand bars and by the U.S. Coast Guard Station while discussing the Indian River Lagoon and its flora & fauna – all the while scanning the waters and shorelines for birds, dolphins, manatees and other wildlife. The highlight of the trip will be watching the sun set over Ponce de Leon Inlet with a view of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse.

Dolphin Lighthouse Ecotour

This Friday-only tour cruises under the New Smyrna Beach drawbridge, past sand bars, mangrove shorelines and through Ponce de Leon Inlet to the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse and back. Guests on this two-hour cruise often see dolphins, manatees, wading birds and sea turtles, which will be discussed by your guide, a certified Florida naturalist. This evening tour also may experience sunsets and roosting shorebirds settling into the mangroves for the night, offering excellent opportunities for photography.

Island Adventure EcoTour

This special 3-hour tour will take guests on a journey through the Indian River Lagoon to experience wildlife from the water AND on foot. Begin your adventure with a boat ecotour narrated by one of our Florida Coastal Naturalists and have the chance to see dolphins, manatees, birds, and other wildlife. Soon you’ll have your chance to disembark onto a favorite local spot, Disappearing Island, where you’ll walk with a certified naturalist to learn more about the native coastal creatures that live in tidal pools, along shorelines and in native plants. Then climb back aboard the boat for a relaxing trip back to the dock.


Specialty Boat Tours

Full Moon EcoTour

Come out for a spectacular 2-hour evening excursion on the water and watch the full moon rise from the comfort of our 40-foot pontoon boat, Discovery. Let one of our certified Florida naturalists teach you about the Indian River Lagoon ecosystem while you observe mangroves, birds, dolphins and more. As the sun sets and splashes vibrant colors across the sky, sit back and enjoy your view of the beautiful full moon as it rises over the horizon. Departs monthly during the full moon.

NSB History Mystery Boat Tour

Part ecotour, part history lesson – all fun!  Take a cruise through history as guides from New Smyrna Museum of History introduce you to the city’s colorful, interesting past from the comfort of MDC’s 40 passenger boat, “Discovery.”  This specialty boat tour is held on select weekdays each month.

Winter Birding EcoTour

This special 3-hour tour on the Discovery boat will leave our dock and head north to Disappearing Island, where birding enthusiasts will disembark and spend two hours exploring this large sand bar, looking for winter migratory birds. Guidance will be offered to less-experienced birders and there will opportunities for novice birders to learn more about birds from highly experienced guests on the trip from local Audubon chapters. These depart monthly January through April.

Boat Charters

Dolphin Discovery Charters

Planning a birthday, anniversary or reunion? Is your group eager to learn more about the Indian River Lagoon while cruising on your own private charter? Charter our vessel, Discovery, and you can choose from our standard cruise packages or let our team work with you to customize an outing which fits your needs perfectly. We can even arrange “Dock & Dine” excursions transporting your group to some of our local waterfront restaurants.


Check our calendar
for dates and times.
Minimum occupancy (8) is required for all tours to depart.

Call us at 386.428.4828 to book your tour or…

book now

Endangered Sawfish Is MDC’s February Lecture Topic

Endangered Sawfish Is MDC’s February Lecture Topic

Sawfish of Florida:
Past, Present, & Future


February, 2019

When: Thursday, February 21 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

Where: Marine Discovery Center, 520 Barracuda Blvd, NSB, 32169

Cost: FREE

The lecture is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are required.

“Sawfish of Florida: Past, Present and Future” will be the topic of the Marine Discovery Center’s February public lecture.

Tonya Wiley, president of Havenworth Coastal Conservation in Palmetto, Fla., will be the guest speaker for the presentation, set for Thursday, Feb. 21, starting at 6 p.m.

Sawfish are large shark-like rays that once were relatively common in Florida estuaries, including the Indian River Lagoon. Florida’s sawfish are now endangered and scientists are attempting to learn more about this iconic and unique fish.

At the presentation, guests will be able to view a three-foot sawfish replica, feel actual sawfish rostra (saws) and learn facts about sawfish. Guests will also learn about current sawfish research and how they can help be involved in the recovery of the species.

Wiley has conducted conservation biological studies of sawfish since 2001, including research on the endangered smalltooth sawfish in Florida. An authority on the biology and ecology of the species, she is an appointed member of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Smalltooth Sawfish Recovery Implementation Team – a multi-institutional panel of experts working to protect the remaining sawfish population in the United States and to prevent the species from extinction.

For nearly a decade, Wiley was a lead researcher with Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research, directing field surveys for smalltooth sawfish from Tampa Bay to the Florida Keys. She now leads Havenworth Coastal Conservation, founded to conserve coastal ecosystems through science and public outreach.

For more information about the lecture, contact the Marine Discovery Center at 386-428-4828.

The lecture is open to the public at no charge  |  No reservations are required
Early arrival is recommended ~ seating is limited.

January Lecture Looks At Future Of North Atlantic Right Whales

January Lecture Looks At Future Of North Atlantic Right Whales

Right Whales


January, 2019

When: Thursday, January 17 2019 at 6:00 p.m.

Where: Marine Discovery Center, 520 Barracuda Blvd, NSB, 32169

Cost: FREE

The lecture is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are required.

The endangered North Atlantic Right Whale population has declined over the last several years, prompting the question: “Is Extinction In Sight?”

Julie Albert, who has coordinated the Marine Resources Council’s North Atlantic Right Whale Program for 20 years, will be the guest speaker for the January 2019 public lecture at the Marine Discovery Center.

The presentation is set for Thursday, Jan. 17, starting at 6 p.m. The event is hosted by the Marine Discovery Center, located at 520 Barracuda Boulevard in New Smyrna Beach.

Albert will discuss the current state of the endangered species, highlight progress made on the use of alternative fishing gear designed to reduce whale entanglements, and also examine the challenges and outlook for the future of this whale species that winters off Florida’s east coast.

Albert will also show shoreline residents how to identify North Atlantic Right Whales and provide information on who to contact if the whales are spotted offshore.

For more information about the lecture, contact the Marine Discovery Center at 386-428-4828.

The lecture is open to the public at no charge  |  No reservations are required
Early arrival is recommended ~ seating is limited.

35 Days of Love for the Lagoon

35 Days of Love for the Lagoon

35 Days of Love for the Lagoon

We all remember the first time watching the bright rays of the sun reach above the horizon to welcome a new day.  Or maybe it’s the first time floating on a boat at twilight while the ripples lap against the hull and the sound of a bottlenose dolphin’s forceful exhale breaks the surface of the lagoon. “First times” on, in, near or around the Indian River Lagoon are unforgettable and each of us have our own story to share.

For more than twenty years you’ve helped us provide “first time” stories for thousands of guests annually.  These stories are shared at the dinner table, on social media and throughout the community and become part of a larger conversation about who we are and how we work together to save the Indian River Lagoon.

Because of you we continue to create “first time” stories and achieve recognition for our work.

  • Disadvantaged youth gained higher achievement test scores when their education was supplemented with “hands on feet wet” activities at the Marine Discovery Center.
  • The Association of Nature Center Administrators recognized the MDC for its superior leadership.
  • More adult and youth programs than ever inspired 8,296 people who love the Lagoon.
  • Strategic blueprints for a vibrant future came alive with the construction of an amphitheater, native landscaping and trails.
  • A volunteer base of 466 individuals donated 11,635 hours of time on behalf of the Center and Indian River Lagoon.

Your annual gifts make it possible for the Marine Discovery Center to answer needs for information about the Indian River Lagoon, to provide opportunities for citizen science participation and to act on your passion.

35 Days of Love for the Lagoon

This year we’re kicking off our end of year appeal on #GivingTuesday with 35 Days of Love for the Lagoon. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. This year we encourage you to support your local conservation charity: Marine Discovery Center.

The Marine Discovery Center receives no annual funding from government agencies. You can help ensure the Center’s success in our 22nd year, 2019, by making a gift of $1000, $500, $100, $50 or $25. You may pledge a sustaining gift via automatic credit card donations or you can donate right here on our website. Maybe you’d like to provide a sustaining gift by becoming a Dolphin Society member with a gift of $83.33/month for the next 5 years. Please also check for matching opportunities at your work or contact me directly at 386.679.3622 to discuss how you’d like to be involved.

The long-range vision of the Marine Discovery Center is for you and future generations to see a healthy Indian River Lagoon enjoyed for its natural beauty, unmatched diversity of species and rich fishery. We do not take you nor the Lagoon for granted. We are most grateful for your past gifts and promise to continue to be faithful stewards of your gifts and the Indian River Lagoon. Please make your gift today!


Chad Truxall
Executive Director

Annual Paint Out Event To Benefit Marine Discovery Center

Annual Paint Out Event To Benefit Marine Discovery Center

Osprey Nesting Platform

by Lisa D. Mickey

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla., Nov. 21, 2018 – The annual Plein Air Paint Out brings nationally recognized artists to New Smyrna Beach each year to create outdoor paintings from dawn to dusk over a span of a week.

This year’s eighth annual event will be held Dec. 2-8, with proceeds benefitting the Marine Discovery Center. Approximately 31 professional artists from throughout the nation are invited to participate.


At the end of each day during Paint Out week, the artists’ work will be brought to the Marine Discovery Center (MDC) at 520 Barracuda Boulevard in New Smyrna Beach. The artistic creations will be on display most days throughout the week in a gallery area at MDC from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Please check NSBPaintOut.com for daily gallery hours. The public is encouraged to view and purchase the work on exhibit all week long during the Paint Out.

There will be nine daily art demonstrations in which the artists set up their easels to teach as they paint in different outdoor locations throughout the city. Art demonstrations will be held each day of the Paint Out event from 10 a.m. to noon, and from 1-3 p.m., unless otherwise indicated. The public is welcome to observe the artists at work and ask questions while they work.

“This is a wonderful weeklong celebration of art and we hope residents of New Smyrna Beach and the surrounding area will participate in this very special event,” said Mary Sue Weinaug, Paint Out host. “There is something for everybody at the Paint Out — whether you want to learn an artistic technique or buy artwork for your home.”

Art demonstrations will be held at the following locations on the following dates:

*Monday, Dec. 3 – (morning) Riverside Park at 105 South Riverside Drive under bridge, and (afternoon/painting) Outriggers Tiki Bar and Grille deck at 248 North Causeway Blvd.

* Tuesday, Dec. 4 – (morning/sketching) at Florida Hospital Deck, South Parking Lot, at 401 Palmetto Street, and (afternoon) at Riverpark Terrace Restaurant at 302 South Riverside Drive.

* Wednesday, Dec. 5 – (morning) Night Swan Bed & Breakfast at 512 South Riverside Drive, and (afternoon/painting) Smyrna Yacht Club Tiki Hut at 1201 South Riverside Drive.

* Thursday, Dec. 6 – Art lecture on the history of Plein Air Painting and Painting Methods at MDC from 9:30-10:30 a.m., followed by art demonstrations by middle school students (morning) from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., on the MDC campus at 520 Barracuda Blvd., and an artist demonstration (afternoon) at Buena Vista Park at 550 North Causeway.

* Friday, Dec. 7 – (morning/painting) entry area of Outriggers Tiki Bar and Grille at 248 North Causeway, and (afternoon/painting) across from the New Smyrna Museum of History at 120 Sams Avenue.

A “Community Quick Draw” event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Dec. 8, at The Artists’ Workshop on Barracuda Blvd., next door to MDC. The event is a two-hour judged art competition for amateur artists and the public is encouraged to participate. An entry fee of $25 will be charged for each artist, with the winner invited to participate as a guest artist at the 2019 Paint Out.

A highlight of the week is a special live auction of artistic creations on the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 5. Hosted by Outriggers Tiki Bar & Grille on the North Causeway, the preview of the exhibited art will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the live auction of the work at 7 p.m.

One hundred percent of all proceeds from the live art auction will benefit the Marine Discovery Center, while 50 percent of all other art sold during the week will benefit the educational programs at MDC.

“This event truly showcases the Indian River Lagoon and our coastal community through artistic interpretation,” said MDC Executive Director Chad Truxall.

The weeklong Paint Out will conclude and final art sales will take place at the Plein Air Gala on Saturday, Dec. 8. The event will be held from 6-9 p.m., in a special events tent located at the New Smyrna Marina at 200 Boatyard Street, adjacent to Outriggers Tiki Bar & Grille on the North Causeway.

Tickets to the Plein Air Gala are $40 in advance or $75 for two tickets. Tickets may be purchased online.

Art patrons and Paint Out sponsors support the event financially, allowing proceeds to benefit the Marine Discovery Center. For more information about sponsorship, contact Mary Sue Weinaug at 407-463-3363. 

For full details about the New Smyrna Beach Paint Out, visit NSBPaintOut.com

Contacts: For media information Lisa Mickey at lisa@marinediscoverycenter.org; for other general information, Mary Sue Weinaug at 407-463-3363.