Marine Discovery Center – Exploring One of the Most Productive Natural Habitats in the World

When we signed up to join the Marine Discovery Center field trip, the only thing I knew, was we were boating out to an area for exploration. I had no idea we would be exploring one of the most productive natural habitats in the world.

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

So you may be wondering what exactly makes Indian River Lagoon one of the most productive natural habitats in the world, so this is what we learned. Indian River Lagoon is the most important brackish water estuary ecosystem in North America. Brackish water is when water is more salty than freshwater, but not as salty as seawater. An estuary is when brackish water occurs because river water meets sea water, but is partially enclosed. This produces a unique, nutrient dense environment, which creates a habitat unlike any other.

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

Our field trip began at the Marine Discovery Center building. Here inside, they have a gift shop, but they also make sure all paperwork is filled out, and your group is all together. Plus restrooms, because the boat ride takes you to Disappearing Island, so no restrooms!  

There is Sea Life on display such as turtles, seahorses, urchins, and fish in the lobby area.

Educational displays on sharks and dolphins too. And just in case you didn’t know….. New Smyrna Beach, Florida is shark bite capital of the WORLD!!!

Boat Ride

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

We drove about a mile away, to park at the boat dock. Then headed out on our boat ride through Indian River Lagoon, to get to Disappearing Island.

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

During the boat ride our guides filled us with knowledge on brackish water, estuaries, and the diverse wildlife that call Indian River Lagoon home. We learned only brown pelicans in the lagoon.   

Exploring

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

When we got to Disappearing Island, the guides had nets, buckets, containers, and other tools for us to use and explore with. We were free to roam wherever we wanted. 

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

Jojo went off with her friends, so Anna and I went walking together. Anna loves to dig in. Right away she was checking out the plant life within the inner water on the island. 

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

We came across this dead starfish. Would have been so cool if it were alive, but I must say, it’s still beautiful. 

Here are some more of the crabs and shells we found. 

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

There were also some animal tracks in the sand. We followed them as far as we could, but it pretty much lead us into some brush.

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

You could see the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse across the intracoastal. We had visited the lighthouse a few years back, so we were familiar with seeing Disappearing Island from the top of the lighthouse. 

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

As you can see, we had lots of beach to roam, and our group was the only people out there. Disappearing Island is a pretty popular boating destination on the weekends. Sadly people leave quite a mess, so without being asked, the kids took it upon themselves to clean up trash that was left behind. 

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida
Photo by Manda Marie Photography

As the tide moved in, there were lots of birds sitting in the shallow water. You can see Anna had fun chasing them into the air in our video. I was pleasantly surprised to see this photo taken by one of our coop teachers, and photographer, Manda. I was so happy she captured this moment. 

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida
Photo by Manda Marie Photography

Manda also took this great shot of Anna with the lighthouse. I was not familiar with where we would be going, so I chose not to bring my camera, and just used my phone. Next time I will bring my big camera. 

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

I took a screen shot of my maps to show how we were “in the water” while on Disappearing Island.

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

On our boat ride back, the guides talked a bit about dolphins. We were able to see some Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins swimming throughout the lagoon. There are over 1000 of them living in the lagoon, that never go out. 

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

There are several differences between ocean and lagoon dolphins. Lagoon dolphins have smaller bodies, because their habitat is smaller. But their fins are larger to help them maneuver around obstacles, such as boats. Lagoon dolphins also travel in smaller pods. 

Marine Discovery Center/Disappearing Island Florida

We’ve been on some pretty great adventures along our homeschooling journey, and this one is definitely on the top of our list. We are hoping to go back in March with another group of friends. 

Be sure to check out the website for Marine Discovery Center to see all they have to offer. And you can follow them on their Facebook Page to stay up to date with events.

Looking to explore more Florida Nature? Check out our trip to the Apopka Wildlife Drive.

8 thoughts on “Marine Discovery Center – Exploring One of the Most Productive Natural Habitats in the World

  • January 30, 2019 at 10:30 am
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    I learned something new about dolphins in this post! Thanks! I also have a new place to explore here in Florida. PS – love the picture of your daughter with the lighthouse. Great shot!

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    • January 30, 2019 at 10:34 am
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      That was something new we learned too!! Thanks!!!

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 3:04 pm
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    This looks so much fun. I’ll have to travel there some day with my 4 little ones. They would love it!

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    • January 30, 2019 at 8:57 pm
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      It was so much fun, we are heading back in March!!

      Reply
  • January 30, 2019 at 5:23 pm
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    I just discovered a new place in Florida I did not know about, This is amazing. I love that you can be so hands on. Definitely adding this to my must-do list this summer.

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    • January 30, 2019 at 9:01 pm
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      Awesome!! We were so happy to be introduced to this place ourselves!! We enjoyed being hands on too!!

      Reply
  • January 31, 2019 at 1:42 pm
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    I love anything aquatic so this is right up my alley. Florida has a lot to offer and I love living here! Great place to truly discover!

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    • January 31, 2019 at 2:08 pm
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      We love living here too. It has taken us a while to find what we truly enjoy about the outdoors in Florida, with it being so much different than Michigan. But this is perfect for us! Hope you get to experience it!

      Reply

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