Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce

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Rick Osman at microscope

Mission Statement

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. Specific research emphases are:

To analyze the systematics and biogeography of major groups of marine organisms in the Floridian coastal zone, focusing on issues of biodiversity

To determine the evolutionary patterns, ecological significance and physiological mechanisms of life histories of marine organisms and

To investigate the complex interactions of marine organisms and the community structure of the diverse and productive habitats of south Florida.

The insights gained by this research are widely disseminated through publications and public presentations, thus contributing to the broader mission of the Smithsonian Institution for the increase and diffusion of knowledge. At the same time, the results of the research enable policy makers to make wise environmental decisions in guiding conservation and sustainable management of marine resources, as well as providing the basis for innovative applications in medicine, aquaculture and the effective balance of growth and conservation.

Marine and Estuarine Habitats

The Smithsonian Marine Station is situated on the Indian River Lagoon, a long, narrow estuary stretching 150 miles along Florida’s east central coast, which offers a diversity of habitats for study, including mangroves, salt marshes, seagrass beds, sand and mud flats, and oyster reefs. In addition, there are the nearby sandy beaches of the barrier island, the extensive waters and sandy plains of the Continental Shelf and, at the edge of the Shelf, the Florida Current, a component of the Gulf Stream System. The coral reefs of the Florida Keys are approximately 200 miles to the south.

Information for Scientific Visitors to SMS

Non-Smithsonian research scientists who wish to conduct studies at the Marine Station are welcome on a space-available basis. Laboratory services include shared use of the wet lab and histology lab, use of basic microscopes, and use of other Station equipment which is designated for general use. Visiting scientists are responsible for providing their own expendable supplies and must, of course, adhere to the Marine Station’s policies and procedures.  Potential visitors will find more specific information on SMS equipment on the Facilities page of this website and a list of charges by clicking this link - Charges

Please direct questions and visitor application requests to Head Scientist, Dr. Valerie Paul .


Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce
701 Seaway Drive, Fort Pierce, Florida 34949
Phone 772-462-6220, Fax 772-461-8154

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