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From Shore to Sea: Ecology of the Keys

We are excited to offer our field education program for locals right here in the Upper Keys! Learn about the ecology around us in the Florida Keys through interactive labs, discussions, and guided snorkel trips. Find yourself deep in mangrove forests, surrounded by the vibrant coral reef, and discover how you can make a positive impact on our ocean habitats. These programs are suitable for teens and adults. If you have a young family, check out our Family Days to more fun marine science, right here in your own back yard!

All programs run from 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM, with an optional snorkeling trip from 12:00 - 3:00 PM
Fee: $40 for snorkelers (includes snorkel gear), $15 for non snorkelers. Fees will be collected on arrival.



Intro to Ecology

September 14 2019 &
October 5 2019

Sign up for 9/14
Sign up for 10/5

Learn how the unique habitats of the Florida Keys waters are connected to one another, with South Florida’s watershed, and with oceans around the world.  Participants will learn the water quality parameters most commonly tested to determine ecosystem health and will get hands on experience using tools to measure these parameters.  As a group, we will make sense of the water quality data collected during the lab, all in effort to better understand the water quality of the FL Keys and how it effects the life in the water.  After a break, participants will snorkel Jules’ Emerald Lagoon, home to an underwater hotel (!).  The hotel, an attraction for many of the fish in the lagoon, can clearly by seen snorkelers at the surface, and freedivers can easily look in through the windows.  A first-hand view of the inside of an underwater habitat is available; what was an underwater lab sitting on the bottom of the lagoon has been transformed into an on-land museum.  Inside, it looks just as it did when it was underwater- a must see!

Ecology Near the Shore

November 17 2019 &
January 12 2020

Sign up for Nov 17

See a sea star up close in the mangrove roots during your nearshore snorkel!  The beautiful nearshore habitats of the Florida Keys are often overlooked; we want to inspire participants to not only appreciate the habitat for its ecosystem services but also for the snorkeling opportunity it provides.  In addition to why our coral reefs are dependent on the seagrasses and mangroves, participants will see the unique beauty of these waters first hand.  The invertebrate diversity lab provides participants insight into some of the invertebrates they can be looking for during the afternoon snorkel.  Sea stars, flatworms, sea slugs, nudibranchs…

Marine Debris & The Sea

February 15, 2020

Find out how debris is affecting our marine environment and what you can do to help!  We will discuss the sources and impacts of marine debris before examining a sample of water for microplastics.  Participants will act as citizen scientists as they count and categorize the microplastics in their sample.  While this can be a negative topic, we intend to focus on what we as individuals can do to make a difference (plan to learn something new…).  The field trip will be the first step in your journey to being an active ambassador to the marine debris issue; we will provide the necessary gear to participate in a mangrove clean up.  Data on the debris will be analyzed and submitted to scientists at Mote Marine Lab.