Miami’s Marine Conservation & Rescue Efforts

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By: Shayne Benowitz

Miami is home to one of the world’s most unique and delicate ecosystems, from Biscayne Bay’s mangrove islands to the Atlantic Ocean’s coral reefs and Gulf Stream current. This marine habitat provides the nesting and breeding grounds for countless marine species, including wading birds, dolphins, manatees and subtropical fish. Miami is also at the forefront of resiliency and sustainability efforts when it comes to sea level rise and climate change. We want to protect this paradise for generations to come. When you visit, there are many ways to learn more about Miami’s climate and ecosystem through museums, volunteering or simply enjoying a local craft beer. Read on to learn about some of the conservation, rescue and sustainability efforts going on in Miami.

sea lion swimming
The Miami Seaquarium is committed to animal rehabilitation and release

Miami Seaquarium

Miami Seaquarium opened its doors in 1955 with a commitment to rescue and rehabilitation of manatees, sea turtles, dolphins and whales. Maime, an injured three-week old, 47-pound manatee was the first animal it rescued. With a rescue, rehabilitation and release program, it serves as one of three wildlife critical care facilities in the state of Florida. The Florida Marine Patrol and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services call upon the Miami Seaquarium when they find an animal in distress, and its team of divers, veterinarians and animal caretakers respond. The Seaquarium is also committed to conservation and sustainability education for its visitors through interactive exhibits and shows. In the past decade, it has rehabilitated 86 manatees and 175 sea turtles and counting!

family looking up at aquarium
Frost Science helps educate the community about Miami's rare ecosystems and wildlife

Frost Science

When Frost Science opened in Downtown Miami in 2017, it was a game changer for Miami’s conservation science and education community. The 250,000-square-foot science museum boasts both a state-of-the-art planetarium and a 500,000-gallon, three-level open-tank aquarium. With a commitment to preserving Miami’s ecosystem, it has also instituted a number of conservation initiatives, including the Museum Volunteers for the Environment (MUVE) program.

Since the launch of MUVE, more than 8,000 volunteers have restored more than 25 acres of mangroves, freshwater wetlands, dune habitats and coastal forests, which act as critical habitats for marine birds, fish and mammals. The museum studies and protects threatened marine organisms. Exotic and invasive species also pose a threat to Miami’s marine ecosystem, and Frost Science intervenes by removing these species in order to protect the native habitat. The invasive and exotic species are then exhibited at the museum.

Pelican Harbor Seabird Station

Founded in 1980, the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station is dedicated to caring for and rehabilitating brown pelicans, as well as all native seabirds, mammals and reptiles. Located on the 79th Street Causeway in North Bay Village, which connects Miami Beach to the mainland, people can drop off injured wildlife at the station 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Through the years, it has treated more than 34,000 patients and 300 species of birds. The staff rescues, rehabilitates and releases these animals back into the wild. A team of volunteers helps clean and feed the animals.

To help educate the public about seabirds and Miami’s marine ecosystem, it hosts monthly seabird cruises on Biscayne Bay at sunset or under the full moon. The cruises last for two hours and scan the mangroves of Bird Key’s rookery, which serves as the habitat for more than 30 species of birds, including brown pelicans, egrets, cormorants and frigate birds.

Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

Whenever you crack open a frosty Lite Haus Pilsner from Biscayne Bay Brewing Company, you’re drinking to help marine conservation efforts. The Doral-based brewery donates a portion of its sales to the South Florida National Parks Trust. The proceeds go toward cleanup efforts in Biscayne National Park aimed at sea turtle conservation. Unwinding with a cold one has never tasted so good!

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