Marine Environmental Education Center to Receive Living Florida Coral Reef Exhibit

New Display to Be Part of Educational Outreach Efforts


FORT LAUDERDALE/DAVIE, Fla. – Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) Marine Environmental Education Center (MEEC) is getting a new addition!

To help educate the public about the wonders, beauty and threats to Florida’s coastal water ecosystems, a new coral reef exhibit is being installed at the MEEC that features live native corals, fish, and invertebrates. This first tank is more than 300 gallons and should be up and running by early 2021. Two additional exhibit tanks are planned to focus on the critical importance of mangroves and sea grasses. This exhibit is joining “Captain,” the green sea turtle who is the permanent resident – and environmental ambassador – at NSU’s MEEC.

“This project fits right in with the mission of the MEEC,” said Derek Burkholder, Ph.D., research scientists and director of the center. “Educating the public about our marine environments is vital and by brining attention to the plight of our coral reefs, we’re adding a new dimension to our outreach efforts.”

Initial funding was spearheaded by the regional nonprofit organization, Friends of Our Florida Reefs (FOFR). Generous donors have already committed $7,500 to kick start a ‘challenge match’ campaign for the exhibit. By the end of 2020, FOFR hopes to contribute at least $15,000 depending upon additional public donations towards the budget for the living coral reef tank and detailed informational signage.

Gifts of any size may be donated directly to FOFR (via the website, Facebook page, or mail) for the match challenge. Donors contributing $100 or more for the MEEC reef tank match will be invited to submit names for established coral colonies living along the southeast Florida reefs, and donors contributing $250 or more will have the opportunity to submit names for a limited number of corals to be placed in the MEEC tank.

NSU’s MEEC will provide additional funding and expert maintenance, while also fundraising for the remaining two tanks to highlight local mangrove and seagrass communities.

“As with coral reefs around the Earth, Florida’s long-lived corals have come under considerable stress over the last 30 years,” said FOFR Co-founder Scott Sheckman. “It’s critical that we do all we can to increase public awareness and appreciation of these living treasures, and reduce many man-made stressors on what remains healthy and restorable.”

FOFR is the dedicated Citizen Support Organization for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Coral Reef Conservation Program, which manages the northern section of Florida’s Coral Reef from the St. Lucie Inlet to the northern border of Biscayne National Park.

“Florida’s Coral Reef has been decimated by stony coral tissue loss disease, a serious outbreak that started in 2014,” said Melissa Sathe, FOFR’s President. “We are excited to partner with NSU which is on the forefront of disease research and reef restoration to bring awareness to our beautiful reefs.”

DEP also co-manages the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary with NOAA. DEP is working alongside NSU/MEEC to create the new displays for the first exhibit tank.


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About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): At NSU, students don’t just get an education, they get the competitive edge they need for real careers, real contributions and real life. A dynamic, private research university, NSU is providing high-quality educational and research programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree levels. Established in 1964, the university includes 15 colleges, the 215,000-square-foot Center for Collaborative Research, the private JK-12 grade University School, the world-class NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, and the Alvin Sherman Library, Research and Information Technology Center, one of Florida’s largest public libraries. NSU students learn at our campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, and online globally. With nearly 200,000 alumni across the nation and globe, the reach of the NSU community is worldwide.  Classified as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is one of only 50 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification, and is also the largest private institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution. Please visit for more information.


About the Marine Environmental Education Center (MEEC): The center was opened with the desire to educate and delight locals and tourists alike through our “forever ambassador” green sea turtle, Captain, and the splendor of the coastal environment of South Florida. The MEEC was fostered from a partnership between Broward County Parks and Recreation and NSU, and is located on the historic grounds of the Carpenter House at Hollywood North Beach Park in Hollywood, FL. Along with Captain, the site features an interactive Interpretive Center with displays ranging on topics from sea turtle conservation to marine debris. Additionally, the center offers programs for the public on various coastal ecology and sea turtle topics, as well as programming specifically for school groups with a curriculum tailored to the marine sciences. Please visit for more information.




Joe Donzelli, APR | Office of Media Relations
Nova Southeastern University
954-262-2159 (office) | 954-661-4571 (cell) | | @NSU_Joe


Melissa Sathe
Friends of our Florida Reefs


Michelle Graulty
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Coral Reef Conservation Program


Joe Donzelli