With more shoreline than any other Florida community including 22 miles of beaches, the Intracoastal Waterway and the longest stretch of the St. Johns River, Jacksonville has an abundance of local marine life in the wild and in special local attractions that can make experiencing them the highlight of any trip.
St. Johns River Taxi and Tours
While crossing from the Southbank to the Northbank of Downtown Jacksonville on this relaxing water taxi, you can spot manatees and dolphins in the wild on the St. Johns River. The River Taxi offers weekend sunset cruises, neighborhood tours and guided Dolphin & History Tours where local wildlife and history experts can help you spot the unique marine life that call our river home. More info: www.rivertaxiandtours.com
Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens Manatee Critical Care Center
This is the first and only manatee critical care center in Northeast Florida. Located inside the Zoo, it gives visitors a first-hand look at the rehabilitation efforts to save local injured and distressed manatees. Before this center opened its doors in 2018, all injured manatees in the area had to be transported to facilities in Orlando, Tampa or Miami. The Jacksonville Zoo is committed to helping save this endangered species that lives right in our backyard. Behind the-scenes tours are available whenever manatees are present at the center. More info click here.
Crazy Fish Tours
This is a fun way to see the waterways of Jacksonville on the city’s only airboat company. You can spot local marine life including dolphins, alligators, manatees and Turtles. They offer guided 1.5-hour airboat and dolphin sightseeing tour to the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean and the marshes and swamps of the Intracoastal Waterway.
More info: http://crazyfishjax.com
St. Johns River Ferry
This is a quick yet memorable journey! The St. Johns River Ferry is a car and passenger ferry connecting A1A from Mayport Village to Fort George Island as it sails across the St. Johns River. The ferry departs every half hour and you can spot dolphins, manatees and other big fish on the water. More info: http://stjohnsriverferry.com
The Marine Science Education Center
Located in the historic Mayport Village, this Science Education Center is part of the Duval County Public School system, but visitors are also welcomed to explore it. They provide information on local marine life and have several hands-on fish tanks, aquariums with local fish species, a marine life museum with historic fossils and even education sessions with local experts. The center is open to the public Monday-Friday after 12:30 p.m. Group tours are available as well with scheduling. It is best to call before going out to ensure the staff availability. 904-247-5973. More info: https://youtu.be/avaxtFfMvOI, https://dcps.duvalschools.org/msec
OCEARCH coming to Mayport
The City of Jacksonville is working on making the historic fishing village of Mayport the home of an OCEARCH marine life research vessel. This data company helps scientist collect ocean information by tagging marine life and studying them. Currently, OCEARCH has a partnership with Jacksonville University for scientific inquiry, collaborative research, experiential learning, innovation and sustainability.
More info: www.ocearch.org