All program times are subject to change without notice.
Now Open on Level 1
This hands-on exhibit hall celebrates the richness of the natural world, with a special focus on the diverse ecosystems of Central Florida. Visitors discover the insects, plants and animals of coral reefs, salt marshes, mangrove swamps and other Florida environments. They learn how living and non-living things interact with each other and their environment.
The dramatic centerpiece of NatureWorks is Florida’s Habitats, a glimpse into the natural world of Central Florida. In this realistic exhibit area, visitors explore the distinctive environments of Sand Pine Scrub, Cypress Swamp, Pine Flatwoods and Sinkhole Lake. There are also ample opportunities for guests to encounter live animals during regularly scheduled presentations.
Observe a typical cypress swamp, complete with live alligators
See how sea turtles make their nest at the sandy beach
Discover the intricate system of roots at the mangrove swamp
Watch how bees build their hive, care for young and gather nectar at the BeeHive Encounter
Red lionfish are beautiful fish that are becoming quite a problem for Florida. Lionfish are an invasive species to the Atlantic Ocean. An invasive species is an animal or plant that is introduced to a new habitat and negatively affects it. Florida has many invasive species due to its warm tropical climate.
In the case of the lionfish, they are destroying the local fish, shrimp, and crab populations by eating so many of them. Since lionfish have no natural enemy in the Atlantic Ocean, the lionfish population is exploding. Everyone has been trying to find a way to get rid of these pesky fish.
A Key Largo based REEF conservation organization has created a lionfish cookbook to create a demand for these fish to be caught and sold at fish markets. Their slogan is “Eat ‘em to Beat ‘em” and its true! The faster we remove these fish the sooner the local biodiversity can return to what it was before the troublesome lionfish came to town.
Want to try it for yourself? Check out www.reef.org to buy the cookbook. Hopefully we’ll be seeing some of these delicious recipes in our local restaurants too!
Misty is an Animal Care Technician at the Science Center and is found in NatureWorks. Animals and Ecology are her passions and she jumps at every opportunity to talk about it. Stop in and say Hello!
Written by Stephanie Kazmierzak-Esler
28 December 2010 Posted in
This just goes to show anyone can be a scientist, regardless of age. A class of 8-10 year olds was enlisted by Dr. Beau Lotto of LottoLabs in England to study bees. Dr. Lotto wanted a fresh look at old data but what he got was more than that; the kids had taken the assignment to heart and ended up uncovering new findings regarding how bees look for food and decide which flowers might have the most nectar.
Researchers at Hetaoping Research and Conservation Center in China believe that dressing up as a panda while working with captive born panda cubs is beneficial to the animals living a normal life in the wild. The panda suit helps the panda cub imprint on pandas instead of humans. Imprinting is a behavioral adaptation that gives an animal its identity and gives it an image of what its future mate should look like and what to guard its territory against.In the wild, animals imprint upon their parents.
However in captivity, there are lots of humans around who interact with the young cub, taking measurements and giving it health exams, that the cub might imprint on humans and think it is human. This may sound silly, but this occurs quite often with young birds. Animals who imprint on humans do not survive well in the wild, thus the hope that the researchers dressed as a panda will help the young panda cub imprint on pandas and live a successful life in the wild.
Check out these websites to see more pictures and learn more information about their research:
Here at the Science Center, we have baby alligators that are about two to three years old. In one lifetime, they’ll go through about 2,000-3,000 teeth because of the constant wear down they experience. In the wild, they eat fish, small mammals, birds, and other reptiles. We feed them a diet of chicken and reptile pellets, but we’d like to remind our guests to not feed alligators in the wild.
Naturally timid of humans, alligators begin to associate food with people once they get into the habit of being fed. It’s very dangerous and leads to an increase of alligator attacks. Visit NatureWorks to feed our gators without the worry!
NatureWorks staff and the exhibits department are in the process of renovating a portion of the former Trading Center. The new theme for the room will be - Adaptation Station. Animals housed in this exhibit will be chosen for their interesting adaptations such as camouflage, defense mechanisms, types of reproduction, and ways for finding and consuming food. The first phase of this renovation will be constructed soon and the following species are planned for exhibit.
Tentacled snake, Erpeton tentaculatum
This snake is found in Thailand, Cambodia and South Vietnam. It inhabits ponds and sluggish bodies of water with heavy vegetation and cover. They are fully aquatic and are so camouflaged they look like a submerged stick. They are unique among snakes in they have two scaly, projections on the tip of their nose. These are thought to be sensory in nature and allow them to sense the position of their fish prey in murky water. Their entire feeding mechanism is fascinating and more information will be coming soon.