Visit the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve Nature Center to learn about the Apalachicola River and Bay and the diverse flora and fauna of the Forgotten Coast. Visitors first encounter a replica oyster boat outfitted with the tools of the trade, then detailed maps of the watershed help you understand the big picture. Inside the 5,400 square foot Nature Center you will find a large mural that depicts in detail the ecosystems of the area. Three giant tanks filled with fish, shellfish and reptiles allow visitors to see first-hand what swims in the Apalachicola River, Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The Bay Discovery Room has hundreds of skeletons, fossils and preserved marine life to explore and examine close-up. Check out our large labeled shell collect where you can ID what you have found on the beach or bay. Historic artifacts depict early industries of the area and you can listen to oral histories that provide first-hand accounts from a local oyster harvester, an oyster dealer, a crabber and a shrimper. Be sure to see our new film about the Apalachicola watershed. The 12-minute documentary style film travels the entire watershed from the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to the Apalachicola River and Bay.
Visitors can also explore the third of a mile raised boardwalk that traverses the Nature Center’s 28 acres. Throughout the boardwalk visitors will encounter a series of twelve quotes that serve as momentary inspiration to help visitors connect with the nature that surrounds them. On the boardwalk you will experience a coastal hammock shaded by live oaks and magnolia trees that opens up in to a freshwater marsh and a stand of slash pine. A plant guide is available to help identify some of the more common species. The Nature Center is open Tuesday-Saturday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm. Call 850-670-7700 for more information.