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From the mangroves and algae mats of the Everglades to the brilliant coral reefs of the Pacific Ocean and the frigid lagoons of the Arctic, our scientists are exploring exotic environments and the animals, plants and other living things found in them.

We want to understand how these ecosystems keep in balance, and what threats they face. That means observing them as no one has before.

Our researchers are traveling to coral reefs around the world and collecting thousands of hours of video of sharks and rays. We’re climbing out of helicopters in the Everglades to measure the microorganisms and nutrients that sustain the “river of grass.” We’re watching the massive goliath groupers off the coast of Florida, the alligators and bull sharks that lurk along our rivers, and the glowing creatures down in the darkness of the ocean’s twilight zone.

The places we study are under attack. With oceans rising, warming and becoming more acidic, many of the food chains and other patterns that have sustained life are out of balance. We are racing to understand these complex and fragile systems and find ways to protect them.

Students, Volunteers and Community Members: Get Involved 

Featured Projects

  • Global FinPrint

    Our Global FinPrint project has created the world's largest shark and ray survey. One-quarter of the planet's sharks and rays are threatened with extinction. The rest are either approaching threatened status or too poorly studied to be assessed. We're gathering the information needed to protect these animals.

  • Seagrass Monitoring

    Since 1996, our scientists have been monitoring seagrass populations in the Florida Keys. Having installed permanent monitoring stations across the coastal waters of South Florida allows our researchers to better understand the patterns behind why some of these critical species are dying-off at an alarming rate.

  • Coral Restoration with Native Crabs

    Florida’s coral reefs have reached a threshold whereby their resilience has been compromised, species are endangered, and ecosystem function degraded. There is a human cost too. Our scientists are working on understanding how herbivorous crabs can help coral reefs survive.

Related Programs & Centers

Our ongoing educational, research and community initiatives are organized within thematic programs and centers which bring together experts from across the Institute of Environment.

  • Medina Aquarius Program

    Our Medina Aquarius Program is dedicated to the study and preservation of marine ecosystems with the world's only undersea research laboratory, Aquarius Reef Base. Our scientists are at the cutting edge of research on coral reefs, ocean acidification, climate change, fisheries and overall ocean health.

  • CREST Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment

    Our NSF-funded CREST Center for Aquatic Chemistry and Environment is exploring estuaries and coral reefs, by examining the role of contaminants and pollutants on these vulnerable ecosystems. Using metagenomic methods, our team is working to identify early indicators of ecosystem impacts caused by anthropogenic stressors.

  • Marine Sciences Program

    The Marine Sciences Program is committed to enhancing our understanding and stewardship of the world’s oceans, especially coastal ecosystems. It offers students and researchers access to the diverse coastal ecosystems of South Florida and the Caribbean with long-term programs worldwide.