The GTM Research Reserve, one of 29 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Estuarine Research Reserves, encompasses 74,000 acres of conservation lands and waters from Ponte Vedra to Palm Coast. It is managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Florida Coastal Office. The Reserve was established as a protected area for long-term monitoring, research, education and stewardship programs.
On Saturdays, you can explore ten miles of upland hiking trails and approximately seven miles of beaches on Guided Cultural Hikes or Beach Walks and have fun in Guana Lake at a Family Seining event. You can also explore the River-to-Sea Preserve or the coquina rock beach on guided explorations. If you are a nature lover, GTM Research Reserve offers multiple options for a wedding at Guana Beach, the Environmental Education Center or the Guana Trails! There are also indoor hands-on presentations where you can learn about whales, sea turtles, snakes, birds, butterflies, and other amazing life.
The Exhibit Hall located in the Environmental Education Center features many different ecosystems within the Reserve. The exhibits include a ceiling-mounted life-size North Atlantic right whale and calf, loggerhead turtle, bottlenose dolphin, manta ray and many other animals, three living exhibits (saltwater, brackish and freshwater aquariums), bird viewing scope, beach diorama and estuary diorama.
The Environmental Education Center, in Ponte Vedra Beach, serves as the Reserve’s headquarters and is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission to the Exhibit Hall is free. To learn more about GTM Research Reserve, visit them online, call 904-823-4500 or email GTMResearchReserve@gtmnerr.org.