Welcome to Nature’s Nursery
New Smyrna Beach is home to the Indian River Lagoon, North America’s most biologically diverse estuary. With over 2,200 animal species, the lagoon serves as a nursery or “preschool” for many organisms that later move into the Atlantic Ocean at maturity. A wide variety of animals, including small sharks can be found in the lagoon. Species like bonnethead, bull, spinner, blacktip and the Atlantic sharpnose spend their youth in the IRL—in fact, it can take 15 years for these little ones to reach full growth and swim to the ocean.
Don’t Fear the Fin:
Sharks tend to get a bad rap, but these sea creatures are essential to the food chain—they eat a wide variety of fish, shellfish, and mammals. Without them, the marine ecosystem would be threatened, and the food chain would become dangerously unbalanced. Our waters would eventually become slimy and swamp-like with an uncontrolled fish population. If sharks were to disappear from the world’s oceans, the consequences would be catastrophic.
While often feared by humans, sharks actually have even more to be afraid of—their population is decreasing at an alarming rate. Things like shark finning, overfishing and pollution all pose threats to these ancient creatures. Learn how you can help protect sharks by visiting the Marine Discovery Center.