New EcoCenter in Stuart now open
STUART – Florida Oceanographic Society’s Ocean EcoCenter, opened to the public at 10am on July 16, 2021 at the organization’s Coastal Center on Hutchinson Island. The Society held a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9am, and included community leaders Brian Mast, Congressional Representative of Florida’s 18th District, Stacy Hetherington, Chair of Martin County’s Board of County Commissioners, Eula Clarke, Mayor of the City of Stuart, Merritt Matheson, Vice-Mayor of the City of Stuart, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, Governing Board Member, and Drew Bartlett, Executive Director, both of the South Florida Water Management District, with opening day attendance reaching a total of 475 guests.
The Ocean EcoCenter features exhibits dedicated to Florida’s coastal ecosystems including 2,000 gallons of aquariums showcasing local fish and invertebrates, 30 exhibit elements, educational interactives, digital displays and games. The Ocean EcoCenter includes 5,000 square feet of exhibit space, including the Ocean Exploration Lab, a multi-purpose space that will provide educational outreach, classroom space and can host private meetings and events.
“Through informative, interactive exhibits, the Ocean EcoCenter inspires visitors of all ages to protect Florida’s coastal ecosystems,” says Mark Perry, Executive Director at Florida Oceanographic. “We are so excited to share the Ocean EcoCenter with our community and continue our mission to inspire environmental stewardship."
Guests will be educated on key components of Florida’s flora and fauna, including why estuaries are essential to wildlife, how baby sea turtle hatchlings reach the ocean, where seagrass population growth is vital, and what can individually be done to save local waterways. The Ocean Eco-Center is open during Coastal Center hours, Wednesday through Sunday, from 10am to 4pm. Entrance to the Ocean EcoCenter is included with admission to Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center.
The Ocean EcoCenter construction is possible thanks to the generosity of many donors that support Florida Oceanographic Society and the organization’s efforts to save Florida waterways!