Marine Science Center
Welcome to the Marine Science Center
The Marine Science Center (MSC) opened in 2002 and has since played an important part in rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing many species of sea turtles and seabirds, many of which are endangered. Since its opening, the MSC has admitted over 20,000 sea turtles and 18,000 seabirds into rehabilitation to help maintain the populations of these critical species. The MSC also functions as an environmental learning center that focuses its mission and vision on the education and conservation of Volusia County’s fragile marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Combining the rehabilitation hospitals with an exhibit gallery and educational programs allows the MSC to teach its visitors about living in harmony with our environment and how each one of us can help conserve our resources through environmental stewardship.
The Turtle Hospital
One of the main missions of the Marine Science Center is sea turtle rehabilitation, and the Marine Science Center complex includes a fully functioning animal hospital. Since opening in 2002, the sea turtle hospital at the Marine Science Center has cared for nearly 1,500 sea turtles ranging from juvenile to adult size; more than 20,000 sea turtle hatchlings and washbacks; and nearly 1,700 gopher tortoises, box turtles, freshwater turtles and snakes.
Sea turtles receive full diagnostic exams using state of the art veterinary equipment such as X-rays, ultrasound and endoscopic procedures. Sea turtle rehabilitation specialists carry out surgical procedures and medical treatments and administer medication as prescribed by the Marine Science Center’s staff veterinarian.
Some common threats to sea turtles include becoming entangled or being caught in fishing gear, boat strikes, ingesting foreign objects such as plastic bags and balloons, and weather that causes sudden water temperature changes.
Guests can overlook eight turtle hospital pools from the Turtle Terrace in front of the main facility. These pools house sick and injured sea turtles, hatchlings and washbacks (recently hatched baby sea turtles that are washed back to shore by rough seas) under rehabilitation. The recovering hatchlings, washbacks and sea turtles will be returned to their natural habitat upon full recovery.
The MSC turtle rehabilitation area also cares for and treats other injured native (non-pet) reptiles. Thousands of freshwater turtles, tortoises, box turtles and even snakes have been treated. These animals are often found struck by vehicles, injured by lawnmowers, or attacked by dogs or other predators.
The Bird Hospital
Opened in 2004, The Mary Keller Seabird Rehabilitation Sanctuary is a fully functional animal hospital equipped to care and treat injured and sick birds. The MSC has treated more than 18,000 birds from more than 200 different species and admits approximately 1,200 birds annually. The hospital was named for Mary Keller, a longtime local bird rehabber who has dedicated more than 30 years to the care of sick and injured birds in Volusia County.
Birds admitted to the bird hospital receive full diagnostic exams using state of the art veterinary equipment such as X-rays, ultrasound and endoscopic procedures. Avian rehabilitation specialists carry out surgical procedures and medical treatments and administer medication as prescribed by the Marine Science Center’s staff veterinarian.
Some common threats to birds include: becoming entangled or being caught in fishing gear; car collisions; pollution from chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides; and cat and dog attacks. Many birds become sick after being fed harmful human foods like bread or french fries.
All fully recovered birds are returned to their natural habitat, and some are fitted with leg bands so they can be identified later. If you see a banded bird, please record the color of the band, the color of the code, the code, which leg the band is on, the location where you saw it, and the date. You can report that information online by filling out the report a banded bird form or by emailing band reports.
Visitors can meet some permanently impaired birds that are not eligible for release along the bird boardwalk in the guest viewing area of the Marine Science Center complex.
The bird drop-off area is opposite the marina, by the boat trailer parking lot at 4965 S. Peninsula Drive. It is open for rehabilitation seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After hours, call 386-561-0624
If you find an injured bird please, call the FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission) Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922)
The Marine Science Center complex includes a 5,000-square-foot visitor center filled with fascinating aquariums and educational displays that highlight Volusia County’s marine environments. Take your time as you explore these interactive, immersive and hands-on exhibits and start a conversation with our knowledgeable volunteers to gain an in-depth understanding of the remarkable marine life that calls Volusia County home.
More than 60 artificial reefs have been constructed in Volusia County’s offshore waters since the program began in 1970. Vital marine habitats are created by placing the remains of ships, barges, culverts, airplanes, concrete utility poles and other large items on the seafloor. Discover why these man-made habitats are so important while meeting some live reef inhabitants up close and personal at our 5,000-gallon Artificial Reef Exhibit. Learn more about Volusia County's Artificial Coral Reef program.
Estuaries occur in areas where freshwater rivers and creeks meet the ocean, and they are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. Volusia County spans nearly 50 miles of Florida’s East Coast and hosts an extensive variety of estuary habitat. Immerse yourself under the mangrove trees at our Estuary Exhibit while you experience firsthand how these areas shelter live fish and invertebrates, and learn why we call them “the cradle of the sea.” Learn more about Volusia County and the Estuarine Restoration Program.
Volusia County’s Atlantic coastline offers valuable habitats for a variety of whale species. Throughout the Marine Science Center you will find genuine rib bones, jaw bones, vertebrae, and even the giant skulls from a sperm whale and humpback whale on display. See what a dolphin looks like on the inside and learn what whale bones, baleen, or a whale’s tooth feels like while visiting our Whale Exhibits.
Coral reefs are the largest structures built by any organism on Earth, and they host more forms of life than any other marine habitat. Florida and Volusia County’s living coral reefs form vital habitats for commercial fisheries, offer shoreline protection, and provide billions of dollars annually to the state’s economy. Discover why living reefs are so important and threatened as you enjoy the beauty of live corals, dozens of reef fish, and colorful invertebrates in our Living Reef Aquarium.
The Marine Science Center’s unique location is just a short walk from the world famous Ponce Inlet Jetty. This man-made rock outcropping extends from the beach nearly a half mile into the Atlantic Ocean and protects the coast while it creates a safe passage for boats traveling through the inlet. Fishermen know that jetties also create great habitat for large game fish. The Marine Science Center’s jetty aquarium is home to several species of fish and dozens of small sea creatures you may be able to feel for yourself in the attached invertebrate touch pool.
Most stingrays spend the majority of their time inactive, partially buried beneath the seafloor with only their eyes and special gill openings above the sand. In addition to their ability to hide under the sand, stingrays often have a venomous barb on their tail that can deliver a painful sting. The resident stingrays in the Marine Science center’s 13-foot-long touch pool do not have barbs, so visitors can reach in and touch them or other exciting organisms that inhabit the ocean’s sandy habitats.
Volusia County hosts a wide range of freshwater habitats. Rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds and streams dominate the landscape and are home to hundreds of unique species of fish, reptiles, water birds and invertebrates. Peer through the viewing window of the Marine Science Center’s freshwater aquarium and discover how Florida’s native turtles and fish spend their time underwater. Above the water, you will get an up close and personal view of how our freshwater turtles love to spend the day stretched out in the sun.
The Blue Room
As you pass from the Marine Science Center’s main exhibit hall toward the covered Turtle Terrace, you will encounter a collection of exhibits that house unusual sea creatures found within Florida’s marine habitats. Seahorses, octopus, moray eel and the invasive lionfish are just a few of the interesting animals you can find in these aquariums.
The Marine Science Center offers a wide variety of programs and activities for children and adults throughout the year. Students young and old can discover the many wonders of marine life in environmentally rich Volusia County.
The Marine Science Center (MSC) is offering some unique virtual programs:
Rescue Rehab and Release (RRR)
During the "RRR" program, your group will learn about the MSC's mission, meet a permanent resident ambassador, watch a sea turtle medical procedure and a release video, ask questions, and discover a call-to-action on how to protect our local ecosystems. (Standards can be requested when scheduling this virtual program)
During the "Raptors Live" program, your group will learn about the MSC's mission, meet a raptor resident ambassador, watch a video of an owl pellet dissection, ask questions, and discover a call-to-action on how to protect our local ecosystems. (Standards can be requested when scheduling this virtual program)
During the "Birthday Party" program, your group will learn about the MSC's mission, learn about elasmobranches, spend time at the ray and shark touch pool, ask questions, and discover a call-to-action on how to protect our local ecosystems.
Each program is $35.00
This price is per group, not per person, with a recommendation of up to 36 guests per program.
Post-program resources and other great educational videos are available on the Marine Science Center YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9d2HAkoGmW4_5fKGWroZSQ