35 Quay Road
Key West, FL 33040
Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center
Since opening in 2007, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary's Eco-Discovery Center has provided visitors and locals an opportunity to explore the sanctuary without getting their feet wet. Now, sanctuary staff from the Keys and national headquarters have reimagined its 6,000 square feet of exhibit space by creating a modern, immersive experience while preserving the original entry fee–free! With financial support from the Monroe County Tourist Development Council and National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, over $1 million in funding was raised to support renovations, fueling teams of carpet layers, fabricators and IT gurus ($725,000 from TDC and $295,000 in federal funds).
"As soon as you step into the waters of the Florida Keys you are in the sanctuary," said superintendent Sarah Fangman. "We have a responsibility to demonstrate how to responsively enjoy the resource, and the Eco-Discovery Center does that in an engaging way that encourages visitors to take ownership through discovery."
New features include an interactive mangrove exhibit, where a native red mangrove tree reaches from the corner of the room with its arching root system. Visitors can test their listening skills, by selecting buttons and guessing the calls of mangrove animal residents, or their sense of touch in a tactile enclosure.