The Gulf Coast Discovery Center is an expansion project of the award winning Navarre Beach Marine Science Station located in the Navarre Beach Marine Park on Navarre Beach
The Gulf Coast Discovery Center will serve as Santa Rosa County’s Gateway to the Gulf and will feature exhibits of local marine habitats and species. The exhibit flow will begin with "beach habitat" exhibits promoting clean, safe beaches, effect of debris on marine life, local marine life and will culminate with a deep sea exhibit. The exhibits will feature hands-on learning aids that help visitors learn about the many important species from plankton to whale sharks that rely on a healthy Gulf of Mexico. NRDA Trustees have funded the development of two Sound Side walk-overs adjacent to the Gulf Coast Discovery Center site which compliments the development. The Gulf Coast Discovery Center will also serve as a community resource facility, displaying information about marine safety and conservation of Gulf ecosystems and will have a much needed wet lab space to further student-centered research projects of local school districts and universities throughout Northwest Florida.
Northwest Florida Marine Education and Discovery of Gulf Ecosystems, Inc.
NWFL EDGE, Inc.
The mission of the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station is to promote the appreciation, conservation, and understanding of the marine ecosystem of coastal Florida through education and service. Programs are designed to empower individuals to become stewards for their ocean through service, experiential learning, scientific inquiry, and innovative technologies. NWFL Marine EDGE, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation supporting existing programs at the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station and expanding on those programs to a broader audience including visitors to Northwest Florida.
Northwest Florida Marine EDGE, Inc.
Why would the Gulf Coast Discovery Center be the best project for the RESTORE council to support?
We have a proven track record of success!
It has the single largest return on investment (other than Beach Nourishment) which will continue to provide funding to the County for future projects.
It will increase our Sales Tax collections because people who lodge in Navarre will actually have a reason to spend their money in Navarre instead of Destin or Pensacola.
This is South End job creation, workforce development, economic development and environmental restoration rolled into one project. It can be a symbol of restoration for Santa Rosa County.
How does the GCDC project support destination tourism to SRC?
The Gulf Coast Discovery Center will be the “first of its kind” in Northwest Florida. NWFL Marine EDGE has “tested” the destination visitor market over the past two years by marketing events focused on potential visitors in a primary market, within a four hour driving radius of Navarre Beach. These special events were held at the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station and the registration was limited due to size of the facility and could only be offered on weekends and after school hours. The visitor response was significant, even under these circumstances. The post-event surveys showed that these visitors would plan a 3 or 4 day get away to Navarre Beach in the shoulder season, if there was an interpretive facility with offerings for the entire family.
Does the proposed project fill a gap in the existing SRC tourism market or create demand in new SRC tourism markets?
Navarre Beach does not currently have a family attraction that can accommodate large groups, has regular operating hours and has qualified staff for environmental and marine education. Currently, visitors come to the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station during school and camp hours and cannot always be accommodated. Visitors may stay on Navarre Beach but they spend their time and money in adjacent counties when vacationing during normal tourist season. The Gulf Coast Discovery Center will be a major attraction during regular season and will serve as a destination attraction for shoulder season visitors eliminating the need to travel to adjacent counties.
While waiting for the exciting project to be completed…ENJOY THE PROGRAMMING OFFERED AT THE NAVARRE BEACH SCIENCE STATION.