TREASURE COAST BOATING
set up to house unique organisms. A magnetic mural will allow
visitors to create their own estuary scene. The lab will also be a
center for engaging science lectures and workshops.
VIEW FROM HIGH ABOVE
At the top of the Ocean EcoCenter is the Ocean Deck — a
spacious covered open area on the third floor that offers spectacular
vistas of the ocean and the Indian River. The Ocean
Deck will be made available to the public for special events.
As visitors walk outside the Ocean EcoCenter, they come
across an expansive 750,000-gallon aquamarine lagoon that’s
filled with nonreleasable sea turtles, nurse sharks, snook,
tarpon and other types of gamefish. These animals serve as
conservation ambassadors giving reminders about the necessity
of protecting local waterways.
“We want to make sure that guests aren’t just looking at
animals, but also learning why they are important,” Jud
explains. “We talk about animals that are sentinels for the
health of the ecosystem. And then we talk about what’s being
done to try and fix environmental problems. Creating that
personal connection often is what leads people to go home
with the ambition to make changes in their own life.”
Near the gamefish lagoon are the stingray and the invertebrate
touch tank exhibits. Guests interact with stingrays
they can touch and feed. Children are especially impressed
when they handle a stingray, hermit crab or sea urchin for
the first time.
“They overcome that fear and say, ‘Oh my God! That’s
exciting! Where does it live? What does it eat? How can I take
care of it?’ ”says Perry. “That’s when I say we’re doing our
job. We’re a part of this world and you’ve got to understand >>
FLORIDA OCEANOGRAPHIC SOCIETY
The stingray touch tank exhibit is a popular attraction at the coastal center
where guests can touch and feed the rays.
Nancy Perry, fundraising professional for Florida Oceanographic Society, shows off the new Ocean EcoCenter that opens this month.