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Nature & Preserves

Indian River County and surrounding areas are abundant with unique natural gifts and the foresight of residents and federal and local governments to preserve them.  Discover, learn, support, and preserve our natural heritage. The areas shown below include the Archie Carr Sea Turtle Refuge, Environmental Learning Center, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Indian River Lagoon, and Pelican Island Wildlife Refuge.

Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge --
America's 1st Sea Turtle Refuge 

seaturtlelogo.gifBetween Wabasso in Indian River County and Melbourne Beach in Brevard, the Carr Refuge offers hope for saving one of the most important sea turtle nesting sites in the world.  Established in 1989, the U.S.'s first sea turtle preserve was named after Dr. Archie Carr, Jr, whose work on understanding the importance of endangered sea turtles led to the refuge's creation. 
     Preservation and growth of the refuge is constantly threatened by development of the area.  For information on the project and how to help go to the sea turtleseaturtleshore.jpg survival league at "About the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge." and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Archie Carr website.  You also visit the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research

Blowing Rocks Preserve
blowingrockphoto.jpgBlowing Rocks Preserve is a magnificent 73 acre barrier island sanctuary located on Jupiter Island, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon.  Blowing Rocks protects a variety of natural habitats, including beach dune, coastal strand, mangrove wetlands, tropical hammock and oak hammock.    

The Preserve is located on Jupiter Island and is open to the public from 9:00am to 4:30pm daily except major holidays.   In 1969, this unusual segment of Florida beach was saved by Jupiter Island residents who donated the property to The Nature Conservancy. It was originally protected for its natural beauty, distinctive rock formations and an important sea turtle nesting beach.   For more information, please visit their web site.

Environmental Learning Center
Through its “hands-on-learning” programs, the ELC provide children and adults with ways to get back in touch with the natural wonders of their environment.  The 51-acre ecologically authentic campus is located on Wabasso Island in the Indian River Lagoon. Its elc.giffocus is to provide a better way to understand the importance of our environment and ways to protect it. 

 At the ELC, one can take canoe excursions on the Indian River Lagoon, explore winding primitive trails, visit native plant gardens, butterfly gardens, follow the boardwalk trails and take part in 'hands-on' labs.  And just added is the "Lagoon Nights" camp-over discovery program.  For programs and more of what you can find at the ELC, visit the Environmental Learning Center  website or call: (772) 589-5050.  It is located just off the Wabasso Causeway, (CR 510) between US1 & A1A.

NEWS: The certification program for becoming a Florida Master Naturalist will be held in cooperation with the University of Florida-Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.  For further information, visit the Florida Master Naturalist website or contact the Environmental Learning Center at (772) 589-5050.

Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Inc. (HBOI) is one of the world's leading not-for-profit hboiaerial.gifoceanographic research organizations dedicated to exploring the earth's oceans, estuaries and coastal regions, for the benefit of mankind. HBOI is comprised of seven divisions that include: Aquaculture; Biomedical Marine Research; Engineering R&D; Environmental Laboratory; Marine Operations; Marine Science; and Marine Mammal Research and Conservation. Its 600 acre campus, located along the Indian River Lagoon, near Fort Pierce, houses some of the world's leading oceanographic laboratories and employs over 250 scientists, technicians, and engineers, many of whom are leaders in their fields.  

The Institute offers programs/lectures for the public as well as 90-minutes tours offered harborbrnchboat.gifMonday through Sunday.  Attendees can choose from "Campus and Wildlife Tour" and the "Lagoon Wildlife Boat Tour".  For information on tours and on their current exploration and research programs, please visit Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute online or call them at (772) 465-2400.  They are located at: 5600 N. US Highway 1, Fort Pierce, FL 34946. 

INDIAN RIVER LAGOON
Q.  What is 156 miles long, crosses six counties, has trees on stilts and
underwater meadows, and contains more than 4,300 kinds of plants and animals?
A.  The Indian River Lagoon!

Despite its name, the IRL is not a river.  It is an estuary -- a body of water in which the mixing of fresh and salt water occurs. 

The IRL is located along a transition zone between the warm-temperate climate to the north and a more subtropical climate to the south. Location, size and other physical attributes make the IRL an estuary of high biological productivity.  The unique combination of these factors is what makes it the most diverse estuary in North America!

For information on its history, how it works, the restoration and fundraising projects visit: Indian River Lagoon Profile Program website. 

The Marine Resources Council of the East Coast is run by people who care about the Indian River Lagoon and want to improve the quality of its ecosystems.  For information on the organization, events, and newsletters visit them at the MRC Website.

PELICAN ISLAND Wildlife Refuge
The country's first refuge founded & designated by President Theodore on March 14, 1903 celebrated its 100th Anniversary, March 14, 2003. The island, located in the shallow Indian River Lagoon near Sebastian, was the first sanctuary provided by the Federal pelicanislandaerial150.jpgGovernment for the protection of wildlife.  It was designated specifically for brown pelicans -- who -- at the turn of  the century were being hunted for sport, hat feathers, and pen quills.

Paul Kroegel, a German immigrant boat builder who lived nearby, became the first Federal wildlife manager, or warden, as he was then called. In 1963, the island was designated a National Historic Landmark, the first time a national wildlife refuge was so designated.

Pelican Island is home to about a dozen different federally listed species including the endangered wood stork, West Indian manatee, green sea turtle, loggerhead turtle, and the indigo snake.

The island is closed to the public; however, it can be viewed via local sightseeing boats; and in honor of the 100th anniversary, a tower was built on Jungle Trail from which the island and surrounding waters can be viewed.   Photo: Courtesy of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Learn more about the Pelican Island Preservation Society.

Smithsonian Marine Station, Fort Pierce
The Smithsonian Marine Station (SMS) is a research center specializing in marine biodiversity smithsonianmarine.jpgand ecosystems of Florida. Research focuses on the Indian River Lagoon and the offshore waters of Florida's east central coast, with comparative studies throughout coastal Florida. The Station is a facility of the National Museum of Natural History, a part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and serves as a field station which draws up to 100 top scientists and students each year from the Smithsonian and collaborating institutions around the world. These scientists investigate the plants and animals in the ocean and Indian River Lagoon and the physical processes associated with these habitats. Information uncovered at the Marine Station is published in scientific journals and forms the basis for effective public policies, conservation efforts, sustainable resource management and enlightened development patterns.

Recreation and Sports > Garden and Nature

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