A small sign, partially hidden in the bushes, greets Nature Center visitors. (Alma Martinez / highlights contributor)
A small sign, partially hidden in the bushes, greets Nature Center visitors.

Alma Martinez / highlights contributor

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center: a secret weapon for saving our beaches

An inside swim on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center.

Oct 7, 2018

For years, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center (MSDBNC) has been educating the future generations on the importance of ocean conservation. Located in the heart of Biscayne Bay near Miami Seaquarium and founded by Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a conservationist who advocated against the draining of the Everglades back in the 1900s, the non-profit organization serves as a safe space for all nature lovers and an educational center for the for the community. The premises include a vast mangrove forest, a wide range of vegetation and one of the world’s only barrier reefs.

Douglas’ work was mostly reared towards the Everglades, but the committed and goal-oriented ocean conservationist advocated for all of Florida’s diverse and flourishing ecosystems. No matter the age, Douglas believed that if a person was born with a voice and a desire to be heard, they must use it to stand up for what they believe. Douglas also believed that the best and most effective way to ensure a promising future for our oceans is to educate the younger generations about the issues they are currently facing.

Alma Martinez / highlights contributor
A quote by Marjory Stoneman Douglas is proudly displayed near the Biscayne Nature Center’s courtyard.

“She was really a big proponent for keeping our ecosystems healthy and educating people on how important they are and how important it is to their lives,” Ed Pritchard, Miami Eco Adventures Interpretive Program Leader said.

MSDBNC strives to teach the younger generations about ocean conservation and other important marine science related topics in order for them to make a difference.

A mural made by campers using plastic bottle caps found on the beach hangs inside one of the Biscayne Nature Center’s buildings.

MSDBNC hosts a wide variety of immersive and interactive activities for both the curious and the future conservationists. New features such as the “touch tank” allow visitors to carry sea cucumbers or pet saltwater sea stars. Other activities like the “Seagrass Adventure,” allow avid marine enthusiasts to go along with the local marine animals hiding below in the seagrass beds. MSDBNC also holds an annual two-week-long summer camp, where children get the opportunity to dissect squid, snorkel, eat fresh coconuts and hike among the mangroves and spider crabs.

Not only does the MSDBNC offer fun activities for people of all ages that encourage ocean conservancy they also stress the importance of recycling and reducing waste. Every year, 10 percent of the world’s 260 million pounds of trash ends up in streams and rivers. The trash then injures and kills animals, causing ecosystems to face great repercussions. With the assistance of a few committed people, influenced by the efforts of MSDBNC, these great numbers and devastations can be drastically lowered.

By the means of passionate and dedicated staff, MSDBNC has had the chance to influence numerous young lives with their unique and interactive lessons. Though Marine Biology and ocean conservation may not be everybody’s cup of tea, MSDBNC provides a safe and controlled environment for the adventurous and open-minded to get closer to the ocean.

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