New Smyrna Beach has always been a haven of oceanic beauty, coastal living, and adventure. But, it is also a city that prioritizes the protection and security of the incredible non-human life that also calls the region home.
More than 30 wildlife centers can be found in the city and in the surrounding area. Many of the most popular New Smyrna Beach activities revolve around viewing and conserving the local wildlife and ecological systems.
This includes several parks and preserves where you can get a glimpse of fascinating local animals in their natural habitats as well as the refuge centers where animals are rehabilitated and educational programs are frequently held.
Below are just a few of the fascinating protected preserves and centers in the New Smyrna Beach area to explore for true nature enthusiasts, along with some information about rules and regulations regarding the local wildlife.
The Shark Park in New Smyrna Beach
Location: 175 N Causeway New Smyrna Beach, FL, 32169
Activities: Shark Viewing, Shark Feeding, Shark Tooth Hunting
How does the thrill of seeing or feeding a shark sound to you? The Shark Park in New Smyrna Beach gives you this exclusive opportunity, while providing you with detailed information regarding these often-misunderstood creatures.
Sharks are integral to the marine ecosystems that they live in. This shark haven collaborates with local wildlife preserves and groups to ensure that sharks are protected in the local region and clears up many misconceptions regarding them.
This family vacation favorite even allows kids to go shark tooth hunting on the nearby protected 10,000 square foot beach, featuring some of the densest volumes of shark sightings in the world.
Deep Creek Preserve
Location: 964 S. State Road 415, New Smyrna Beach
Activities: Hiking, Horseback Riding, Biking, Wildlife Viewing
Deep Creek Preserve is one of the largest protected habitats in the region. 8,000 acres of land make up the entirety of the preserve, with 3,000 acres being dedicated to slash pine plantations alone. Other plant communities here include mesic and wet flatwoods, and dome and basin swamps.
The preserve is home to a vast range of endangered and native Floridian animals. Here you can catch a glimpse of some truly stunning creatures on a hike or bike ride, such as bobcats and gopher tortoises. Other types of wildlife you may see include wading birds, bald eagles, otters, foxes, wild turkeys, deer, and squirrels.
There was even a sighting of a rare Florida panther recently. Scientists speculate only about 150 to 200 still exist in the state, and they are more commonly seen in the Southwestern mixed marshes and swamp forests of Florida.
You will find the main entrance and parking at the above address. The website offers environmental maps, including trails, wildlife densities, and other helpful information.
The Marine Science Center
Location: 100 Lighthouse Dr, Ponce Inlet, FL 32127
Activities: Aquatic Touch Pool, Exhibits, Turtle Tots Program
The Marine Science Center is a small aquarium directly supported by admissions and various wildlife support programs. Important habitat protection programs here include Turtle Tots, which is a focus on the rehabilitation of pregnant mother turtles and their offspring.
The program also educates participants on the absolute importance of leaving turtle nests alone. Baby turtles sometimes head off in the opposite direction from the ocean due to disorientation from coastal lights and noise. This is why the coastlines of New Smyrna Beach must adhere by strict noise and light codes.
Preserve Rules and Protection
The ecological health of the protected areas in New Smyrna Beach hinges on the delicate balance between human appreciation and the safety of the animals.
Motor vehicles are prohibited in many protected areas. Camping is allowed in a select few areas, but duration is limited to 7 consecutive days.
Parks and preserves here have clearly labeled points of entry and can only be accessed through these designated points. Parking is usually available.
Disturbing, defacing, or removing plant or animal life is prohibited. All trash needs to be disposed of in labeled receptacles, and when one cannot be found, it needs to be taken away from the site under Leave No Trace rules.
New Smyrna Beach residents place great significance on the wildlife that surrounds them. In some ways, the New Smyrna coast still belongs to nature – and we strive to keep it that way so that future generations will be able to enjoy the scenery for years to come.