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Ocean Life Public Seminar Series

The Ocean Life series brings renowned researchers and academics to the Keys to educate, entertain, and inspire audiences of all ages. Hosted by FIU CCOR and the Friends of the Key Largo Cultural Center, the series features interdisciplinary experts from FIU and the Keys. 

The series is free and open to the public.  Hosted at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center in Key Largo - 102050 Overseas Hwy. MM 102. All events begin at 6:30 PM with a happy hour prior to lecture from 6:30 to 7:00 PM.

Upcoming Lectures

Thursday, August 22 - Lad Akins: Hot off the Press! The new Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Foundation: Enhancing conservation in the Florida Keys

Join Lad Akins, the Chapter Director for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Foundation for an engaging lecture on how the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Foundation supports work on a variety of conservation issues facing the Florida Keys including Restoration, Community Engagement, Infrastructure Enhancement and Regulatory Compliance. Come hear about the new Foundation, a chapter of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and see how you can become involved in issues facing our Keys waters. This will be an interactive talk encouraging public dialogue and time for questions and answers.

Thursday, September 26 - Dr. Rachel Zeurcher: Mapping coral reef fisheries on the Florida Reef Tract

Dr. Rachel Zuercher is an interdisciplinary scientist doing research to improve our understanding of the marine environment while working to solve pressing issues facing marine fisheries. She is passionate about research that contributes to our ability to manage fisheries sustainably for ecosystems, fish and the people that rely on them. Rachel is currently a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr. Alastair Harborne in the Tropical Fish Ecology Lab at Florida International University. In her lecture, she is excited to unveil newly developed maps of reef fishing and coral reef fish stocks on the Florida Reef Tract, and to discuss how these maps can help us better manage our Florida fisheries.

Thursday, October 24 - Dr. Douglas Watrzok: Underwater Acoustics: Marine Mammals, Seismic, and Sonar

Join Dr. Douglas Watrzok, Professor Emeritus at Florida International University for a lecture on the Underwater Acoustics of marine mammals.

Thursday, November 21 - Sarah Fangman: It's Complicated: Protecting the Florida Keys Marine Ecosystem

Sarah Fangman is currently the superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and has been with the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries since 1998. Fangman previously served at Grey's Reef National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.


  • 2019
    • Feb 21, 2019, Jim Fourqurean, PhD, Saving Seagrass to Save the World
    • March 28, 2019, John Berry, PhD, “Fishing” for Toxins: Using Fish as a Model System to Explore Algal Toxins in Florida Waters
    • April 25, 2019, Lorian Schweikert, PhD, Light, Color, and Vision in the Underwater World
    • May 23, 2019, Lawrence Wood, PhD, Jewels on the Reef: The Hawksbill Turtles of Florida
  • 2018
    • January 19, 2018, Justin Campbell, Ph.D., Biologist for the Chemical Ecology Program, Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, Climate Change in Coastal Environments: Linking Responses Across Multiple Scales
    • February 16, 2018, Mauricio Rodriguez-Lanetty, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Quantifying Biology in the Classroom (QBIC) Program, Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University, Future for Coral Reef Restoration: A Time of Ecological Crisis Requiring All Solutions to be Considered
    • March 16, 2018, Ross Boucek, Ph.D., Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Florida Keys Initiative, Past, Present and Future of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust's Florida Keys Initiative
    • April 20, 2018, Jeremy Kiszka, Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University, Impact of Fisheries on Global Marine Mammal Populations: Are Exrinctions Now Inevitable? 
    • May 25, 2018, John Stephen Kominoski, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences and Southeast Environmental Research Center at Florida International University, Can We Keep Pace With Rising Seas? Saltwater Intrusion and Carbon Loss from Coastal Wetland Ecosystems
  • 2016-2017
    • October 21, 2016, Lisa Symons, Crocker Reef Buoy #16: Coral Reef Restoration and Monitoring
    • November 18, 2016, Kathleen Rein, Ph.D., Algae Crisis: From Toledo, Ohio to Martin County, Florida.  Lessons We Should Be Learning
    • January 20, 2017, Tim Collins, Ph.D., Progress in Revealing the Tree of Life 
    • February 17, 2017, Thomas A. Frankovich, Ph.D., An Introduction to Florida Bay Ecology and the Seagrass Die-off Story
    • March 17, 2017, Stephen Davis, Ph.D., Sea Level Rise, Everglades Restoration and the Health of Our Coastal Waters
    • April 21, 2017, Yannis P. Papastamatiou, Ph.D., A Last Stand: Ecology and Conservation of the Smalltooth Sawfish in Southern Florida - Download Last Stand Flyer
    • May 19, 2017, Alastair Harborne, Ph.D., The Effects of Environmental Change on Coral Reef Fishes - Download Harborne's Flyer
    • June 16, 2017, Matthew Lawrence, Archaeologist, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Elbow Reef: Key Largo’s Ship Trap
  • 2015-2016
    • September 18, 2015, Patxi Pastor, Inspiring the Next Generation of Ocean Conservationists - Download Pastor's Flyer
    • October 9, 2015, Dennis J. Giardina, The Trouble with Exotic Mangroves - Download Giardina's Flyer
    • November 6, 2015, Jerome J. Lorenz, Ph.D., Roseate Spoonbills in Florida Bay: Pink Canaries in a Coal Mine 
    • January 15, 2016, Keene Haywood, Ph.D., Exploration as a Discipline: An Overview of the University of Miami’s Exploration Science Program 
    • February 19, 2016, Todd Crowl, Ph.D., Florida International University’s new Institute for Water and Environment (InWE):  Research, education and outreach that is relevant
    • March 18, 2016, Sandi Williams and Allison Estape, Sea Turtles and Man: A Review of the Endangered Status of Sea Turtles - Download Sea Turtles Flyer
    • April 15, 2016, Jose M. Eirin-Lopez, Ph.D., The Epigenetics Revolution Reaches the Ocean
    • May 20, 2016, Tiffany Troxler, Ph.D., Rising Above: The Science of Sea Level Rise and What It Means for Us - Download Rising Above Flyer
  • 2014-2015
    • September 19, 2014, Henry O. Briceño, Ph.D., Keys Canals: Your Backyard Swimming Pool - Download Keys Canals Flyer
    • October 10, 2014, William Anderson, Ph.D., Understanding the History and Future of Sea Levels - Download Anderson Flyer
    • December 5, 2014, Lad Akins, Invasive Lionfish: Management Successes and Challenges - Download Akins Flyer
    • January 16, 2015, Sean Morton, The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary - Download Morton Flyer
    • February 20, 2015, Heidi Scott, Ph.D., Literature of the Seas: Energy Commodities and Conservation - Download Scott Flyer
    • March 20, 2015, Ryan Stoa, J.D., Law of the Sea: Energy, Overfishing, and Pollution - Download Stoa Flyer
    • April 17, 2015, Bill Irwin, Ph.D., Aquaponics: Sustainable Agriculture in the Florida Keys - Download Irwin Flyer
    • May 15, 2015, Tom Potts, To Live and Work Beneath the Sea: Aquarius - Download Aquarius Flyer
  • 2013-2014
  • 2012- 2013