Located at Lighthouse Point Park in Ponce Inlet, Florida, not far from Daytona Beach, the Marine Science Center is an affordably-priced, small museum that centers on the area's marine life and the environment around it.
The museum's exhibit gallery focuses on the ecology of Volusia County, Florida and allows visitors to explore the area's unique and science-rich environment. In the gallery, guests will come face-to-face with a 5,000 gallon aquarium that is home to a hundreds of interesting local fish and invertebrate. Patrons can also explore Florida's mangrove forests, which protect the low-lying coastal areas from floods and other natural disasters, and can visit a dune habitat and learn about what kind of life makes their home there.
Also in the exhibit gallery are coral propagation tanks, whale and dolphin anatomical exhibits, and a few of Florida's most famous citizens, the American alligator. Displays change on occasion and naturalists are often available inside the museum to answer questions about the exhibits.
The Mary Keller Seabird Rehabilitation Sanctuary is an important and interesting part of Daytona's Marine Science Center. The sanctuary opened in 2004 and since that time has treated literally thousands of injured birds from an estimated 150 species that frequent the area around Daytona Beach. This fully-equipped health facility is staffed by ornithology experts and doctors who specialize in the care of seabirds. Healthy birds are eventually released back into their environment whereas others who may be unable to be released become "ambassadors'' for the rehab center, which was named for an area woman who cared for sick and injured birds for more than 30 years.
The Sea Turtle Rehabilitation area of the Marine Science Center is among the most fascinating parts of the museum. Here, dedicated staff cares for thousands of turtles each year including washbacks (newly hatched turtles that are washed back to shore), hatchlings and other very young turtles, and adult turtles as well. Guests will find a number of different species of sea turtles here, including loggerheads and green turtles. Other reptiles are also treated at the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Center, including tortoises and snakes. Visitors have the opportunity to view a total of seven "hospital pools'', located near the front entrance of the facility. Some turtles appear healthy while others are obviously injured and even wear small "life vests'' that help them float. This is where all will remain until they've reached full recovery and are released back into the ocean.
Guided tours of the Marine Science Center are available daily and museum staff offers a variety of special programs for various ages, both onsite or at locations in and around Ponce Inlet and Daytona Beach. The onsite Marine Science Center Gift Shop sells marine-related books and other educational materials, games and toys, nautical gifts, jewelry, and souvenir apparel.
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