Manatee Observation and Education Center





Walk up to the observation tower and stand along the rail to see the Manatees at the Manatee Observation and Education Center at 480 North Indian River Drive in Fort Pierce. Sit on a bench in the evening and feel the cool breeze while watching the boats entering and leaving the docks.

As you follow the trail throughout the butterfly garden read the signs of the many plants that attract butterflies. While sitting on a bench relax and enjoy the calmness of the garden.Three different species of Seahorses inhabit the Indian River Lagoon described at the Seahorse Exhibit. The threats of the Seahorse and their skeletal makeup. A female Seahorse deposits one thousand eggs at a time into the male pouch. The eggs incubated and delivered nine to forty-five days later. They’re hard to take care of in an aquarium setting. They mate for life and eat kelp and vegetation.





Many different species of fish live in the aquariums inside the education center that include two from South America. Closely related to the Corals the Sea Anemone offer a habitat for the Clownfish. Six species of predatory fish live in a separate aquarium for fear they might eat the other fish. The Lionfish an invasive fish from the Indo-Pacific an area that includes twenty-three countries.

All about the Manatees in the Manatee Exhibit. Manatees an endangered species brought on by several factors like speeding boats that collide with the Manatees, habitat loss and cold stress.

Hand-made earrings, jewelry, wind chimes, coasters, clothing made from recycled plastic and other items found in gift shops. I recommend the education center afterwards walk upstairs to the observation deck. Hours and admission prices found on the website.


Harbor Branch Ocean Discovery Visitors Center

Over forty years of ocean discoveries at the Florida Atlantic Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. Surrounded by a variety of foliage the Harbor Branch Ocean Discovery Visitors Center located at 5600 US 1 North in Ft. Pierce.

Watch a film about the establishment of the institute then take a tour with a docent. Walk with a docent throughout the visitors center as they describe in detail the research that goes on at the institute. From the depths of the oceans, microbiologists and chemists discovered that seventy percent of pharmaceuticals comes from the ocean.





While holding the wool sponge she told us that they have no eyes or ears but suck water from holes throughout their body. Dolphins live 50 to 60 years in the wild but in captivity die at an earlier age. The Right Whale an endangered species listed as one of the 12 whales that inhabit the Florida Waters. The Yellow Head Jawfish burrows inside the sand in one of the Coral Reef Aquariums. In the oceans the Coral Reef home to millions of species.





Many facets of ocean exploration inside the ocean exploration center. Learn about the seven types of seagrasses in the Indian Lagoon. The impact of the ocean currents on our environment. Too deep for divers, underwater vehicles go where divers can’t and underwater cameras such as Autonomous Underwater Vehicles that takes pictures at the bottom of the ocean and sends them back to researchers.

Fish, plants and other species grow in the aquaculture environment. Restoring our native species like the Florida Apple Snails, Queen Conch and Oyster Reefs important to the survival of our ecosystems.

The gift shop has children’s books on the oceans, salt scrubs, ocean safe sunscreens, backpacks and other items. I recommend the visitor center tour the docent is very knowledgeable. The tour is free donations accepted. Lecture series, Immersion Tours offered on the website.

Smithsonian Marine Station






Smithsonian Marine Station located at 420 Seaway Drive in Fort Pierce. Over twenty coral reefs on display at the Ecosystems Exhibit. Three species of Seahorses found in the Indian River Lagoon and an aquarium in the marine station for farming Seahorses. A female Seahorse deposits one thousand eggs at a time into the male pouch. The eggs incubated and delivered nine to forty-five days later.


Seagrass, Mangrove and Hardbottom Ecosystems make up the Indian River Lagoon Habitats. Over four thousand species found in the lagoon as well as thirty-eight endangered and rare species including the Manatee (Endangered), Green Sea Turtle (Endangered) and Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Threatened).

pict1487-1pict1488-1A Sand Dollar, Sea Biscuit not as flat as a Sea Urchin and a Sea Egg Urchin found in seagrass areas and an assortment of shells on display. Red lionfish a highly venomous invasive fish first introduced to the United States from the Indo-Pacific region in the 1980s possibly released in the wild from home aquariums.






Step outside to admire the “The Partnership” a sculpture by artists Patrick Cochran and Ginny Piech Street. Have a picnic underneath a pavilion or walk along the path by the Indian River Lagoon. Admission prices and hours of operation on the website.

Barrier Island Sanctuary





PICT1681View the skulls of the whales at Barrier Island Sanctuary in Melbourne Beach. One skull of the Humpback Whale washed up 3 blocks from the Cocoa Beach Pier and the other a Fin Whale washed up in Palm Coast. Walk along the observation deck and read the tablets about the Fin and Humpback whales.





Several species of fish, Diamondback Terrapin a species of turtle, Hermit Crab and lobster found in the aquariums throughout the sanctuary.

Watch a film in the auditorium about saving the turtles. The Juvenile Green and Loggerhead Turtles found in the Indian River Lagoon. When the Loggerhead Sea Turtle reaches adulthood they can weigh up to 300 pounds, the Green Turtle can weigh 400 pounds and the Leatherback Sea Turtle can weigh up to 900 pounds.

Stroll along the boardwalk to the beach or hike the one-mile trail. Sit on one of the picnic tables, relax and enjoy the landscape. Entrance to the sanctuary is free; hours of operation are on the website.

Marine Discovery Center

0621151120-00Summer adventure days, kayak, boat tours and boat charters all offered at the Marine Discovery Center at 52 Barracuda Boulevard in New Smyrna Beach. The private non-profit offers many educational opportunities.





At the observation tanks, the staff member described the life of the Red Hermit Crab, Horseshoe Crab, Florida Spiny Lobster and Crown Conch. 

0621151134-00A Bamboo Shark found in the Pacific Ocean and a Nurse Shark bottom dweller found in the western Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans. Red Drum, Black Sea Bass, Mangrove (or Gray) Snapper in the Sportsmen tank.


A Diamondback Terrapin Turtle on the endangered species list and is found on the briny coastal swamps of the eastern and southern waters of the United States.






A Lionfish an invasive species that is destroying our coral reefs and two Seahorses in another tank. These are some of the species of marine life found at the discovery center. Entrance to the center is free donations accepted. Check the website for hours of operation.