The Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory: An Aquatic Wonderland

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Baby sea turtle in palm of hand
Things to Do

With its expansive coastline nestled directly against the Gulf of Mexico, and its cavalcade of rivers, streams, and lakes that dot the landscape, it’s easy to see why the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory is right at home in Wakulla County. This unique institution has been a part of the community since its founding in 1963, and it has expanded over the years to include numerous opportunities for everyone from students, teachers, and families to connect with the incredible variety of aquatic life on Florida’s Gulf coast.

Located just a short drive from Tallahassee in Panacea, the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory remains committed to furthering research on aquatic life and teaching the public about this unique marine environment.

Embark on a unique guided tour that plunges into a richly diverse marine ecosystem

The guided tours and field trips offered by the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory are designed to give you a look at the inner workings of the facility. You’ll learn about interesting native plants and animals and discover how they fit into the environment as a whole. There are several options available for guided tours, allowing you to tour only the lab or add excursions to the living dock or the marsh in the surrounding area.

Entrance fees for the various guided tours are available for individuals, but you can also inquire with the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory about group rates for special outings. No matter which tour you choose, you’ll be treated to an enriching experience that will leave you feeling connected to the vital waterways of the Florida Gulf coast and provide you with a deeper understanding of how important these plants and animals are to the ecosystem.

Don’t just teach your students about nature, show them!

If you’re a teacher, you know there’s no substitute for giving your students an illuminating, hands-on experience that complements what they learn in the classroom and expands their worldview. The Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory specializes in presenting fun and interesting field trips for student groups.

Have you ever wanted your students to see a live sea turtle to help them to better understand the importance of the sea turtle conservation effort in Florida? It’s all possible in the aquarium at the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory, where they’ll even have the opportunity to touch some living aquatic animals (just remember that some tanks are marked “Looking Only”).

Celebrate aquatic life in a stunning natural landscape

After visiting the laboratory, you can take advantage of your proximity to some of the most unique natural lands in North America, including the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla Springs State Park, and Apalachicola National Forest. The Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory is an integral part of the character of this remarkable area, so don’t forget to check out everything Wakulla County has to offer after you spend some time learning about the incredible plants and animals that call the laboratory their home.