The 30A community is one of the most pristine ecological habitats in the world. What plays into this unique ecosystem is the inclusion of 15 rare coastal dune lakes, a push from the Gulf Stream and its accessibility to deep water hard bottom in the Gulf. Additionally, you have the new installment of many artificial reefs right offshore that host many of the juvenile marine species that thrived in the sea grasses and coastal dune lakes. With the cooperation of the NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service), SWARA (South Walton Artificial Reefs Association) and the Sea Life Discovery center we will be doing ongoing research to determine the health and viability of this habitat.
Artificial Marine Reefs (SWARA)
The Sea Life Discovery Center has a close connection with SWARA (South Walton Artificial Reef Association). We provide education, research and data collection for the new artificial reefs that have been placed throughout the Gulf of Mexico. It is our hope to determine through ongoing research that these artificial reefs will provide food and shelter for adult species of marine flora and fauna that normally live in the coastal dune lakes and sea grass beds. If this is confirmed then SWARA will be shown to be a great contributing factor to the health and viability of the rare northern Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.
Shark Tagging Project
In order to understand growth rates, population dynamics and overall distribution of common Gulf Coast sharks, we must tag them. This tag kit is given to us by the NMFS lab in Panama City Beach. We teach students about the purpose of tagging and how to collect and analyze data collected from common sharks like the spinner, blacktip, and sanbars. This data is then collected and sent back to NMFS (National Marine Science Center) for further analysis.