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MarineQuest Saturday

Event Details

children and adults standing around a table with two young boys looking into microscopes

During our annual open house, the research headquarters are open to the public so visitors can learn about Florida’s interesting plants and animals, like musk turtles, manatees, mangroves, and much more!  
Inside the labs, scientists can guide you through interactive displays and answer questions about their research. Here, you can learn about timely conservation topics, like red tide or coral disease, and engage with the experts leading these programs. Outside, explore touch tanks filled with Florida marine life, such as starfish, rays, horseshoe crabs, spiny lobster, and sport fish.  
MarineQuest offers something for all ages, including interactive activities specifically designed for younger ages, like gyotaku, an artistic fish-printing technique originally used by Japanese fisherman to record their catches. Visitors can also participate in a mock manatee rescue with our marine mammal rescue team! 

MarineQuest 2024 Indoor Displays

Dress like a Scientist
Floor One

Pop on your life jacket, lab coat, or goggles for this fun photo opportunity to dress like a marine scientist!

Electron Microscopy
Floor Three

Electron Microscopy explores things too small to see with the naked eye! Participate in an activity to view the microscopic world and understand the three types of microscopes: the light microscope, scanning electron microscope, and transmission electron microscope.

Explore Coral Reefs
Floor Four

What has happened to Florida’s Coral Reef in the past few decades? Come play the Coral Conga to find out! Players will become different species of coral and experience what it’s like to be a coral on our reefs.

Fish and Wildlife Health
Floor Three

Histology: See how scientists use microscopes to view histological slides and look up close at fish organs and diseases.

Parasites/Skeletal Deformities: Examine real preserved specimens of fish with parasites/deformities and pictures of fish skeletal deformities/diseases!

Microbiology/Bacteria: Gaze on bioluminescent bacteria, displays of bacteria plates of swabs from everyday objects, and displays of differential media used by scientists.

Necropsy Lab: Come participate in a “larger than life” dissection of our giant red snapper and play a matching game for to identify fish anatomy.

Augmented Reality Display: Use your cell phone to interact with “Fred the Redfish” to view histology pictures of various internal organs.

Fish Feeding Ecology
Floor Two

Get immersed in the biology of fish in Tampa Bay with a hands-on demonstration examining tooth shapes and feeding strategies of each species! Learn how the Gut Lab collects and identifies different diets, and even how we can identify partially digested food using our collection of jawbones! You will also learn how this essential dietary data is used to help fisheries management decisions in Florida.

Floor Three

Visit the genetics lab to play Name that Fish. Learn how we use DNA to identify species, individuals, and populations. Walk through a giant cell to learn about all of the important parts that make up living cells.

Center for Spatial Analysis
Floor Three

Visit the Center for Spatial Analysis station to learn about Artificial Intelligence in conservation! Explore new AI technology and understand how we use it to protect Florida’s wildlife! Participate in demonstrations powered by AI to detect and track animals, count people, and match poses. These interactive activities will be hands-on and use real-world examples to show just a few ways that scientists use computers to help answer questions about the world. 

Marine Finfish Biology
Floor Two

Do you know how to tell how old a fish is? Ask our scientists how at the Finfish Biology booth! Visitors will learn the critical role of marine habitats in conservation and hear from scientists about acoustic telemetry research we do.

Offshore Fisheries Monitoring
Floor One

Come play fish bingo at the Offshore Fisheries Monitoring station! Practice your scientific skills by helping us find different fish species in our underwater monitoring videos. Learn about our research, fish populations and health, and unique data collection gear as we study eastern Gulf of Mexico offshore habitats!

Red Tide Information
Floor One

Dive into the world of algae by building your own phytoplankton and viewing harmful algal bloom species, like red tide. Visitors will also get a first-hand look at the technology used to monitor algal blooms along the Florida coast!

Seagrass Ecosystems
Floor One

Come explore the world of seagrass ecosystems! Learn why this habitat is so critical, touch and see the local grass species, and investigate the ways we collect data in this highly dynamic system.

MarineQuest 2024 Outdoor Displays

Bear Research

Come to the bear research station to hear all about bear ecology and research. You can learn how we help bears in Florida using unique capture and tracking tools, including a CO2 dart pistol!

Conservation Social Science

Come visit the social scientists at FWC and learn how we are involved in conservation! Test your knowledge, learn about our research, interact with researchers, and see examples of social science in action here in Florida.

Fisheries-Dependent Monitoring

Visit the Fisheries-Dependent Monitoring station and spin to win a common Florida fish species! You'll get the chance to decorate your fish while learning about fisheries science! Visitors will learn crafty identification tips from scientists and can add some of their own artistic touches to make a necklace to take home!

Florida Biodiversity Collection

Tour the collection and see a selection of natural history specimens of fish and invertebrates from Florida waters and beyond!

Florida Keys Fisheries Research

Embark on an extraordinary journey with the Florida Keys Fisheries Research team! This immersive adventure promises a kaleidoscope of natural wonders, encompassing mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs, and the vast expanse of the open ocean. Visitors have the opportunity to connect with the marine environment in a hands-on way and interact with various animals from the Florida Keys. This intimate encounter serves as a reminder of the fragility of these ecosystems and encourages a sense of responsibility towards preserving the extraordinary natural wonders that make the Florida Keys a haven for both marine enthusiasts and conservation advocates alike.

Florida Panther Research and Conservation

Visitors will be able to learn more about our state animal, the Florida Panther! Come get your picture with Ranger the panther mount and learn about how FWC is helping to recover this endangered population.

Florida Sandhill Crane Research

Learn about one of Florida’s tallest and most charismatic birds. See capture and marking techniques that our researchers use to help understand how this imperiled species is living among us. Visitors can make an origami crane and get “banded” just like real cranes!

Freshwater Fisheries Research

In our Freshwater Fisheries Booth, join our researchers and explore some of Florida's most interesting fresh water communities!

Freshwater Plants and Coastal Wetlands

Ever wonder about the native plants that support Florida's fish and wildlife? Visit the Freshwater Plants station to observe some of our most unique coastal and freshwater plants and learn about identification, research, and plants' important role in ecosystems.

Inshore Fisheries Monitoring

See and touch live specimens of over twenty species of invertebrates from Florida's waters! Learn how and why FWC's Inshore Fisheries Monitoring team monitors fish populations in major Florida estuaries.

Kids Zone

Kids Zone has activities for youth to have fun and create. Choose a fish and make a fish print at our Gyotaku station. Pick a coloring sheet featuring one of the species we study, color it in to make it your own, and we’ll finish it off by turning it into a magnet for you! And choose from our selection of fish and wildlife tattoos to wear around the event!

Let's Go HAB Hunting

Ever wonder what it’s like being a Harmful Algal Bloom researcher at sea? Here’s your chance to climb aboard a real FWRI research vessel and see the state of the art tools and instruments they use when studying red tides and the ocean!

Manatee Research and Conservation

At the “Manatee Research and Conservation” station visitors will have the opportunity to learn about FWCs efforts to protect and conserve manatees. Visitors will learn how FWC researchers count, identify, rescue and monitor Florida manatees. They will also have the opportunity to participate in a mock rescue and step aboard an FWC rescue boat and transport vehicle. Staff will be on hand to answer questions such as, what to do if you see a sick or injured manatee, how many manatees live in Florida, how we map the locations and movements of manatees from satellite data and what everyone can do to help protect manatees in the wild.

Marine Turtle Research

Come chat with sea turtle biologists and learn about Florida’s sea turtles, including basic sea turtle biology, threats to their survival, and what you can do to help save sea turtles!

Reptile and Amphibian Research

Meet some of Florida’s native reptiles and amphibians up-close! Our biologists will teach you about the roles each critter plays in their ecosystems and how we study them.

Right Whale Research and Conservation

Stop by the Right Whale Research and Conservation booth to learn about the whale that visits our state every winter! The North Atlantic right whale is a critically endangered species threatened by fishing gear entanglements and vessel strikes. Come see how FWRI researchers study this rare species and what we are doing to help protect it. You can find us next to the big inflatable whale!

Sharing the Beach with Birds

Enjoy spending time at the beach? So do birds! Test your skills finding cryptic beach nests and cute chicks on the beach and discover what it takes to be a good beach steward. Understand how these unique birds are adapting to a changing habitat and learn about research, conservation, and management!

Sharks and Rays

Explore the unique characteristics of a vast variety of sharks through a hands-on learning experience. Scientists will share identification tips and research methods using real sharks!

Shellfish Fisheries Research

Visit the Shellfish Fisheries Research station for a look into Florida's fabulous crustaceans and mollusks. Come see how we sample for oysters, learn why horseshoe crabs are so unique, and test your strength against a stone crab!

Stock Enhancement Research

Come learn how Stock Enhancement Research scientists raise marine sport fish, such as red drum and spotted seatrout, using computer automation software and see the latest in marine aquaculture technology. Learn about our new Marine Fisheries Enhancement Center located in Apollo Beach, Florida, and how it will help support Florida’s world famous recreational fishery!

FWC at MarineQuest


TrophyCatch is an FWC program that engages bass anglers as citizen scientists, rewarding them for recording information about the catch and release of bass 8 pounds or heavier in Florida. Its sister program, Big Catch, recognizes anglers who fish for a diversity of freshwater fish in Florida and celebrates their remarkable catches for 33 different species of freshwater fish. Swing by our booth to learn more about how to participate in TrophyCatch and Big Catch!

Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida

You’ve played “pin the tail on the donkey,” now get ready to pin the seagrass on the lagoon! Come learn about our efforts to restore seagrass in the Indian River Lagoon, a vital habitat for many species and food source for beloved manatees, and leave with a sweet treat.

FYCCN (Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network)

At the archery station, participants can use a bow and arrow to shoot at archery targets on the range. All equipment is provided, including youth and adult sized bows. There is a minimum height requirement, but most youth over 6 will be tall enough to participate.