MarineLab Research Partners

MarineLab students now have the opportunity to participate in actual scientific research as part of their MarineLab program. Sarah Egner is our Director of Research and Program Development, and is busy contacting other researchers and universities to see how MarineLab's staff and students can help them. MarineLab instructors spend a lot of time in the field and observe the same sites over the course of years. Most reseachers cannot afford to pay field scientists to spend that much time in the field as our instructors do. We decided to actively seek out organizations that can use data collected over long periods. MarineLab is very pleased to join these organizations as partners and data providers. Our activities enhance our students' participation and understanding of current research going on about the seagrass, mangrove, and coral reef ecosystems of the Florida Keys. To see our most recent activities, check out our blog!



Global Learning & Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) is a worldwide, hands-on science & education program. Water quality data collected by MarineLab students is now uploaded to the GLOBE international database, to be used by scientists, teachers, and other students around the world.

GLOBE logo

SOUTHEAST ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH CENTER (FIU) WATER QUALITY MONITORING NETWORK For the past three years or so, MarineLab has had a sonde on loan from the SERC and has been collecting water quality data for Florida International University. Student data is also included when it is collected.


In 2014, MRDF joined University of Florida's Lakewatch program. While the focuse of the water quality monitoring program is on freshwater systems in Florida, there is an interest ini the water chemistry of coastal systems, as well. MarineLab collects water samples at three previously established sites in Tarpon Basin, Florida Bay. Samples are tested for total phosphorous, total nitrogen, and chlorophyll. The long term water quality for more than 40 counties in Florida can be found online.




Seagrass Watch Seagrass Watch is a global, scientific, non destructive seagrass monitoring and assessment initiative. MarineLab has been a member since 2011, conducting quarterly seagrass surveys in Largo Sound. In 2014, MRDF received a grant from Disney's Worldwide Conservation Fund to expand our seagrass survey program. The grant allowed us to establish two additional sites in Largo Sound for quarterly surveys and to further develop our seagrass survey educational program. MarienLab students have the opportunity to conduct surveys following the Seagrass Watch protocols and later analyze the data and compare student data to long term staff data.

ReefChecReef Check Foundation is an international organization dedicated to the conservation of two ecosystems: tropical coral reefs and California rocky reefs. MarineLab uses the organization's ReefCheck protocol in its Advanced SCUBA and Teacher Workshop programs, providing Reef Check EcoDiver certification to these students and teachers.

Bleach Watch is a volunteer monitoring and observation program operated by Mote Marine Lab in conjunction with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. MarineLab students are briefed on what to look for, and any bleaching events are reported to the Bleach Watch network.



MRDF joined the Phytoplankton Monitoring  Network in 2012. Under the direction of Director Sarah Egner, staff members conduct bimonthly tows and plankton identification in the water off Key Largo. Thanks to funds from the Protect Our Reefs grant program, a lab has been developed to include students in these phytoplankton tows, educating them about the dangers of harmful algae blooms and showing them how citizen scientists can help government agencies predict where these blooms might occur.

In 2014 MRDF partnered with PMN in a study focusing on the effects of an algal dominated reef on toxic phytoplankton populations, specifically phytoplankton that cause Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (CFP) Samples were collected once a month from a healthy, unhealthy and artificial reef off of Key Largo for a year. Some visiting students had the opportunity to assist with the fieldwork. Data from this study is currently being analyzed.

With funding from the Ocean Reef Conservation Association, in 2014 a community outreach phytoplankton program was created. We were interseted in getting a greater sample size from the waters off of the Upper Keys and are utilizing community members who spend time on the water to conduct monthly phytoplankton tows and bring the sampes to us for analysis. Via this program, 15 sties in the waters off of Ocean Reef south through Tavernier are being monitored. Samples are analyzed by MarineLab staff for target species - if found, samples are preserved and shipped to NOAA for further analysis.




Dr Deron Burkepile’s lab of Florida International University has been researching the effects of herbivorous fish on the Florida Keys coral reefs.  Visiting students to MarineLab can be trained to assist in this study and collect some parrotfish feeding data.  While snorkeling, students will locate one of four species of parrotfish.  After fish have been given three minutes to acclimate to the presence of the observer, students will start their stopwatches and begin recording the number of bites taken by the focal fish on six different substrates (algal turf/crustose coralline algae, live coral, macroalgae, seagrass, sponge, sand) on a data sheet below.  All usable data will be submitted to Dr. Burkepile’s lab.

Lake Central GAFC

Great Annual Fish Count is an annual event sponsored by the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). Held in July, it affords MarineLab students the opportunity to participate in a global fish count and to have their data included in the results.




















Proud Pro Purchase Partner
Disney Conservation Fund
Grant Recipient



Ocean Reef Conservation Association Grant Recipient