Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Smithsonian’s Annual “Marine Science in the Morning” Lecture Series Returns to the St. Lucie County Aquarium January 24

Scuba divers conducting marine research on coral reefs, showcasing underwater exploration and ocean conservation efforts in a vibrant aquatic ecosystem
eleonora_os -
Scuba divers conducting marine research on coral reefs, showcasing underwater exploration and ocean conservation efforts in a vibrant aquatic ecosystem

Fort Pierce - Sunday January 21, 2024: The Smithsonian Marine Station is once again hosting its popular morning lecture series at the St. Lucie County Aquarium. Enjoy coffee and pastries while you learn about a variety of marine science topics from experts in their fields. Lectures begin Wednesday, Jan 24 and continue every other Wednesday through March 20. The doors open at 8:30 a.m. and the one-hour lectures begin at 9 a.m.

Advance registration is required as space is limited. Please call the education office at 772=465-3271 or email to reserve your seat for one lecture or join us for the full series. Lectures are free with paid aquarium admission ($3.25 for seniors 55+, $4.25 for adults, and $3.25 for children under 18 years old). One-year memberships, which include free admission, are available starting at just $15.

The lectures focus on a variety of topics, including: 

Wednesday, Jan. 24
Marine Arts: Getting Started in Underwater Photography with Diann C. Johnson, Educator for the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystem Exhibit. Florida waters offer some amazing marine life, coral reefs and shipwrecks. There are many ways to capture photos of them from mobile and GoPro to DSLR and mirrorless cameras. This presentation will cover the equipment, principles, and techniques of underwater photography. 

Wednesday, Feb. 7
Trophically Transmitted Parasites as ‘Cross-Taxon Surrogates’ of Biodiversity in Coastal Environments with Christopher Moore, Post-Doctoral Researcher at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University. Parasite diversity is one indicator of a healthy ecosystem. Many parasites require multiple types of hosts (invertebrates and vertebrates alike) to complete their lifecycles and if the hosts aren’t there, then the parasites that need those hosts won’t be there either. Listen to our ongoing project sampling for parasites in the Indian River Lagoon. 

Wednesday, Feb. 21
Microbes, Chemistry, and Coral Sex with Dr. Jennifer Sneed, Microbial Chemical Ecologist at the Smithsonian Marine Station. Dr. Jennifer Sneed regularly finds herself swimming through a dark soup of coral eggs and sperm. How did she end up here and, more importantly, why? She’ll share her journey and the reasons everyone should be excited about microbes, chemistry and coral sex. 

Wednesday, March 6
Inter- and post-nesting movement patterns of leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) nesting in southeastern Florida, USA with Derek Aoki, PhD Candidate at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, Associate Researcher with Upwell Turtles, and Nesting Technician with Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Derek’s research focuses on the movement patterns of the southeastern Florida aggregation of leatherback sea turtles using satellite and acoustic telemetry. The goal of this project is to describe high-use inter- and post-nesting habitats throughout the North Atlantic Ocean and identify potential natural or anthropogenic factors influencing their distribution.

Wednesday, March 20
The Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory: A Biodiversity Resource for Everyone with Dr. Holly Sweat, Biologist for the Benthic Ecology Lab at the Smithsonian Marine Station. The Indian River Lagoon watershed is a biodiversity hotspot that drives the regional economy, supporting over 9,000 species across water, land, and air. Dr. Holly Sweat is the curator of the Smithsonian’s Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory, a public online resource that offers access to the most comprehensive catalog of life in the estuary. Come learn how the IRL Species Inventory got started, where it’s headed, and how you can get involved. 

The Smithsonian Marine Station partnered with St. Lucie County and other community partners to create this unique educational facility. The ecosystems exhibit serves as an outreach branch of the Smithsonian Marine Station, which is under the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. A fixture in the Fort Pierce community for more than 53 years, the Marine Station is dedicated to understanding the character and diversity of the marine and estuarine habitats of Florida. Located at 420 Seaway Drive on South Hutchinson Island, the St. Lucie County Aquarium is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. and seasonally (January through March) on Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can meet the Aquarium’s staff and learn how they care for the intricate living ecosystems as well as the ever-popular guided feeding tours at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. led by Smithsonian educators. 

For more information about the exhibit or to learn about volunteering opportunities, call 772-465-3271. Keep up to date with this program and all the happenings at SMEE, by following us on social media (@SmithsonianSMS) on the most popular platforms or by visiting our website at