Bird Rookery Islands Cleaned and Ready For Nesting Season

Bird Rookery Islands Cleaned and Ready For Nesting Season

By Lisa D. Mickey

Just as it’s an annual rite of spring for the wading birds to begin displaying their breeding plumage on the rookery islands here in New Smyrna Beach, another annual occurrence is a task designed to benefit these amazing creatures.

That task has become standard procedure for a number of years with humans assisting our feathered friends. The goal is to give them the best chance possible for a successful nesting season.

Former Marine Discovery Center staff members Marilyn Sullivan and Mark Spradley started the February tradition of cleaning the two rookery islands of monofilament fishing line years ago. Since that time, friends, volunteers and numerous MDC staff members have pitched in to clear the islands of fishing line and old rope that could prove detrimental to the nesting birds and their chicks.

Osprey Nesting Platform

Three of us recently tackled the two islands and spent two hours climbing and slogging around under the mangrove trees in this endeavor for the 2019 nesting season. Once again, we pulled and cut fishing line with dangling hooks out of trees.

And once again, we cut down four beautiful dead birds that innocently came there to perch and sadly, succumbed to human irresponsibility.

If only the snagged fishing line wrapped around the legs, wings and throats of these birds had been properly deposited in monofilament recycling tubes located at the local fishing piers. If only the recently expired juvenile pelican we cut down with the fishing hook down its throat could have been captured and taken to the veterinarians at the Marine Science Center. Perhaps it could have been saved from such a hellish end.

Mark climbed the trees and helped Marilyn and me reach the line my boat hook couldn’t snag. The three of us spread out across each island. Each of us snipped and cut and marveled at how even a short piece of line with a hook could be a death sentence to a bird just waiting to perpetuate the life cycle in the next breeding season.

Far too often throughout the year, our naturalists and boat captains cut and pull line from these two islands. Most of us free entangled birds numerous times a year and far too often we cut down birds we didn’t see in time to save. The vultures take care of the rest.

Between February and October each year, somewhere between 140-200 nests of birds spread across these two islands. Seven different species call the tangle of mangrove trees their home nursery with an average of two chicks born to each nest.

Throughout the process of courtship, breeding, nest construction and laying eggs, two doting parents spend months feeding and nurturing their chicks, hoping to see them take flight into the world.

That’s the real annual event — the one the birds hope to see and the one humans who care about the birds hope will happen.

It’s impossible to not be moved when you clean these islands or when you are forced to pull carcasses of once-active birds out of tree limbs to remove fishing line. It’s also impossible to not be a little angry. Only humans who care enough to walk to the monofilament tube and drop in old hooks and line can prevent such events.

We are a growing community with many guests and many ideas about how to recreate around the water. That’s why we are all here.

But these birds were here long before the rest of us flew in. It’s their home, too. The least we can do is be good neighbors.

Lisa D. Mickey may be reached at lisa@marinediscoverycenter.org

Want a fantastic chance to photograph our beautiful rookery islands during nesting season?

Join MDC on our new Rookery Island Camera Cruise where our expert captains will safely maneuver the boat to view and photograph the islands from all angles.

March 9  |  March 23  |  April 28  |  May 11  |  May 25
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Call us for details or to register at 386.428.4828

MDC March Lecture Looks At Native Coastal People

MDC March Lecture Looks At Native Coastal People

Living Off the Water:
A Look at Florida’s Native Coastal Peoples

21

March, 2019

When: Thursday, March 21 2019 at 6:30 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.

“Living Off the Water: A Look at Florida’s Native Coastal Peoples” will be the topic of the Marine Discovery Center’s March public lecture.

Emily Jane Murray, a public archaeologist with the Florida Public Archaeology Network in St. Augustine, Fla., will be the guest speaker for the presentation, set for Thursday, March 21, starting at 6:30 p.m. The lecture is hosted by the Marine Discovery Center, located at 520 Barracuda Boulevard in New Smyrna Beach.

For more than 14,000 years, native Floridians utilized Florida’s bountiful resources for food, shelter and tools. On the coast, these native people favored estuarine and marine resources, even after the advent of agriculture.

In her presentation, Murray will discuss how archaeologists have uncovered clues about the inhabitants of Florida’s northeast coast and how modern residents can benefit from knowledge of the past.

Murray has worked as an archaeologist throughout the southeastern United States and has created numerous outreach tools, including videos, activities and museum displays. She currently works as a public archaeology coordinator for the Florida Public Archaeology Network’s Northeast region. She also serves on the board of the Florida Anthropological Society. Her interests include Florida’s prehistoric archaeology, historic cemeteries and public archaeology and interpretation.

The March lecture is open to the public at no charge and no reservations are required. Murray’s presentation will be held in the new Hunter Amphitheater located behind the Marine Discovery Center for the official “soft-opening” of the new facility. The annual MDC members’ meeting is being held in conjunction with this event as well prior to the lecture.

Some seating will be available, but guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for the presentation. The facility is wheelchair accessible and ADA compliant. Early arrival is recommended.

The lecture will be followed by “Shadows and Reflections: Florida’s Lost People,” a short film on native coastal people. In the event of inclement weather, the presentation and film will be brought indoors at the center.

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.

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

21

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

17

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!

Sincerely,

Chad Truxall
Executive Director