Street Address
420 Seaway Drive
Fort Pierce, FL 34949
Mailing Address
420 Seaway Drive
Fort Pierce, FL 34949
phone: 772-462-6220
Tuesday, Saturday10 AM - 4 PM
Sunday - Monday, Wednesday - Fridayclosed
First Tuesdays are Free!
Group Tours
Cristin Ryan, Marine Biology Educator
phone: 772-465-3273
Chelle King, Marine Biology Educator


Here on the east coast of Florida, we are fortunate to live along the shores of the most diverse estuary in the United States - the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). The lagoon stretches 156 miles from Ponce De Leon Inlet on the north to Jupiter on the south, and harbors over 3,000 species of organisms. Even though the IRL is an everyday sight for many of us, few have ever experienced the unsurpassed biological diversity that lies below these waters. The Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit provides a window into this underwater world.

Our focus is on displaying ecosystems as complex communities of organisms interacting in their environment. At the Marine Ecosystems Exhibit, visitors can explore six different Florida marine habitats and learn about the complexity and importance of marine ecosystems. The largest aquarium is a model of a Caribbean coral reef. Other displays include living models of seagrass, mangrove, estuarine and nearshore habitats, as well as a deepwater Oculina coral reef. There are several smaller aquarium displays and a touch tank where you can meet some of our local sea creatures.

Explore our web site to learn more on the background and history of our live exhibits. Learn what it takes to keep them running. You'll also find information regarding our education programs, tours, and special events. Better yet, come visit us in person and see for yourself!

The Exhibit staff conducts a weekly behind-the-scenes tour of the facility every Saturday at 2:00 PM,we also offer gallery tours every Tuesday at 2:00pm and daily Feeding Frenzy tours (Tuesday-Saturday 10:30am). Additionally, the Smithsonian Marine Station offers a monthly tour of the facility on the third Thursday of each month at 2:00pm. This tour is free, but advance registration is required. Please visit the website for tour description or additional information. . This insightful tour gives visitors a look at the necessary systems essential to keeping the living ecosystems thriving. Biological, chemical and mechanical filtration systems, lighting systems and chillers and feeding regimes are all explained.


The overall mission of the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce is support and conduct of scholarly research in the marine sciences, including collection, documentation and preservation of south Florida's marine biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as education, training, and public service.


The Smithsonian Institution has had a presence in Fort Pierce, Florida since 1969. Through its association with long-time friend and supporter Edwin Link, inventor and engineer who chose this location for development of his research submersibles, and, through funding from J. Seward Johnson, Sr. of Johnson and Johnson Pharmaceuticals, the Smithsonian Institution established what was then known as the Fort Pierce Bureau.

Over the years, the research and educational offerings of the Smithsonian Marine Station have grown. In 1997, shortly before the move to the new campus, the program of the Marine Station was expanded by grants from Florida’s St. John’s Water Management District and the Smithsonian’s Seidell Program to support an online resource, the Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory. In 1998, the Link Foundation began funding Link Foundation/Smithsonian Institution Graduate Fellowships. And, for 10 years beginning in 1998, the Station participated in a dual-enrollement program with the Indian River Community College (now IRSC) and the St. Lucie County School District to offer three courses in marine science to high school juniors and seniors.

In 2001, the Station took a giant step forward in the realm of public outreach and education with the opening on August 27th of the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit (SMEE) at the St. Lucie County Marine Center at 420 Seaway Drive. The opening of the Exhibit was truly a collaborative community effort. SMS provides, maintains, and develops the exhibits, but St. Lucie County owns and maintains the building that houses them. Other initial contributors included the City of Fort Pierce, Indian River Community College (now IRSC), St. Lucie County School District, Fort Pierce Utilities Authority, Florida Power and Light, South Florida Water Management District, and the St. Johns River Water Management District, as well as several businesses and individuals from the community.

Artifacts Collections

Smithsonian scientists have been actively conducting marine research on the Treasure Coast of Florida since the early 1970's. Located in a biogeographical transition zone between tropical and temperate habitats, the area includes a high diversity of species in marine environments such as mangrove swamps, oyster and seagrass beds, sand and mud flats, and coral and worm reefs in the Indian River Lagoon estuary and the open ocean.

Research Collections

There are currently resident science programs in Benthic Ecology, Chemical Ecology and Life Histories of Marine Invertebrates. In addition, Smithsonian Visiting Scientists and their colleagues from leading scientific institutions throughout the world are conducting a variety of marine studies, and several postdoctoral and graduate student projects are also underway.

Educational Programs

We offer school and group programming during normal hours Tuesday through Friday, year around. Please register two weeks in advance for all school or group programming. Call 772-465-3271 to register.


The Smithsonian Marine Station, the research facility portion of this facility, which is located across the street and is not open to the public, issues a quarterly newsletter highlighting research developments.

  • Smithsonian Marine Station Newsletter


Group Tours