Conservation Science Updates

Updated March 31, 2021

Shoreline Restoration at Two State Parks

Volunteers worked alongside Marine Discovery Center staff and University of Central Florida researchers to restore eroding shorelines in Tomoka State Park and Gamble Rogers State Park. Oyster bags created by MDC volunteers were deployed to create a wave break to protect the shoreline from large boat wakes and wind driven waves. The oyster bags will act as habitat for baby oysters to grow on as well as protection for many species of fish and invertebrates. Behind the oyster bags, volunteers planted mangroves and marsh grasses grown at University of Central Florida. Together, the oyster bags and plants will create a living shoreline and provide habitat and protection.

Oyster Volcano Workshops

In an effort to reduce our plastic footprint MDC is working alongside University of Central Florida to develop non-plastic alternatives to oyster bags. One method developed by University of Florida uses all-natural jute fibers and a quick-curing cement to bind the fibers together into a 100% biodegradable restoration unit called an “oyster volcano”. These oyster volcanoes will be placed along the shorelines at Canaveral National Seashore and will serve the same function of oyster bags. If you are interested in participating in this event, please contact

Soooo Many Horseshoe Crabs!

MDC staff were treated to a horseshoe crab explosion on March 18th as they bombarded the shoreline on a strong western wind to nest in Canaveral National Seashore. Over the course of three separate surveys in 6 hours MDC staff Jessy Wayles and Tess Sailor-Tynes saw over 1,600 horseshoe crabs and tagged a sample. Horseshoe crabs tend to nest on sandy shorelines during the full moon and new moon phase, however horseshoe crabs in the Indian River Lagoon respond better to stronger winds than the moon phase, and these crabs were no different. Despite being in the middle of a moon phase, the winds were pushing at 15 knots out of the west and gave our staff and volunteers a perfect opportunity to check out the beach for nesting crabs.

Satellite Beach Restoration Project

MDC volunteers and staff assisted the City of Satellite Beach with their large scale restoration of Samsons Island. This 26 acre island is located along the Banana River and is named after Sam Fuchs and his sons who donated the property to the City of Satellite Beach in 1968 where it was designated as a nature preserve. The oyster bags transported from MDC (our volunteers loaded up 1,125 oyster bags into large dump trucks!) were deployed along a stretch of the island to protect it from shoreline erosion and provide habitat for clams.

To participate in our conservation science programs, you must first become an MDC Volunteer. Visit our volunteer page for information or contact Volunteer Coordinator Traci Trusler at

To learn more about our citizen science and shoreline restoration projects, contact Conservation Science Coordinator Jessy Wayles at

"To protect and restore the Florida coastal and Indian River Lagoon ecosystems
through education, research and community stewardship."