/About MCERC

Watch this video to learn about The MCERC

The Marine and Coastal Ecology Research Center (MCERC) is a non-profit (501c3) organization dedicated to supporting healthy and sustainable marine and coastal ecosystems through interactive research and education programs.

Marine and Coastal Biodiversity is the focal point of all MCERC activities.

Programs and research projects are developed by qualified and experienced scientists and educators with an aim at creating dynamic opportunities for citizens and professionals with a commitment to conservation. The MCERC Education Hub is the portal for distance learning, experiential field intensive programs, internships, day excursions, and outreach programs. Interns and research assistants are mentored by senior scientists as they are guided through developing tools essential for future careers in research, education, and marine resources management by participating in data collection and analysis, regulations and policy, outreach events, and mentoring programs. The science team distributes information gleaned from research projects via peer reviewed publications, professional conferences, and outreach opportunities.

The Humpback Whale Field Intensive research team of interns, research assistants, and senior scientists onboard "Capi" Michael Lopez's vessel. Behavioral observations and acoustic capture of humpback whale song are among the data collected during the excursion.

The MCERC Board of Directors include experts in marine science, information technology, marine policy, marine resources management, and business administration.

All members of the Board of Directors volunteer their time and expertise in support of MCERC’s mission to promote healthy ecosystems through education and research. Members of the Board of Directors review the organizational operations and collaborate with faculty and staff. This team approach assures a strong infrastructure and solid foundations for MCERC activities.

MCERC operations are based in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, USA.

Programs and activities are conducted throughout coastal areas of the states and extend to field programs and research globally. The team frequently seeks opportunities to collaborate and support the local economy and local graduate student projects.

Faculty members include scientists and educators who teach programs during a break from their full time positions. They join MCERC from academia and industry to infuse energy, knowledge, and skills to members of the science teams and program participants.

Staff include senior scientists and professionals accomplished in their fields, research assistants who have been extensively mentored through internships and earned leadership roles in the teams, and support staff who keep MCERC’s communication networks operating effectively. MCERC is fortunate to have several ex officio advisers who are qualified and willing to assure that the infrastructure steers on a path consistent with MCERC’s mission.

Heidi Malizia answering questions about whales during an outreach event

Experiential field programs and research projects are designed to include citizen scientists who travel to field sites and are introduces to the local culture and customs. MCERC is committed to integrate an authentic, local experience in every program. Team members are guided towards attitudes and actions intended to usher in a future of respect, celebration, and support, for cultural distinction.

MCERC program administrators actively seek collaborators or research projects in under-served areas that will benefit financially from welcoming our programs to benefit from the natural resources that are part of their home. Chartering small vessels, renting accommodation, purchasing supplies from local small businesses are examples of how MCERC field programs bring revenue into remote communities.

Outreach events are an exciting part of MCERC activities. Nurturing new and experienced ambassadors for conservation initiatives is an important part of all programs. Day and weekend events are chances for children, families, teens, college students, retired locals, travelers, and professionals, to get together. Programs are online, in classrooms, at beaches, and community events. Our teams look forward to invitations to share our passion for marine and coastal ecology!

MCERC citizen scientists are amongst our most valuable resources! The potential contributions to add valuable scientific data for research is immeasurable. There are several long-term research projects which include a significant contribution from people who are willing to participate by sharing observations, images and videos, and volunteering their time.

Examples of projects continuous participation from citizen scientists include; the MCERC Puerto Rico Humpback Whale Project, MCERC Dominican Republic Marine Mammal Biodiversity Project, the MCERC Turks and Caicos Islands Marine Biodiverity Project, and the MCERC Manatee Citizen Science Project. Humans who work, live, and visit, where MCERC science teams conduct research are contributing data and infusing enthusiasm for marine natural resources. The excitement of learning about daily sightings of marine megafauna is contagious and the participants are growing at a rate exceeding staff expectations!

MCERC professional development goals include providing fledgling scientists and university students with courses that often earn credit hours through independent study at their university. MCERC faculty serve as supervisors during field intensive programs and report back to interns academic advisors on campus. Administrators recognized the very real challenges which face up and coming marine scientists to find internships which meet travel and budget limitations. Remote internships are now a very important part of MCERC’s commitment to marine conservation through research and education.

An intern is recording observations during the Coral Reef Ecology field intensive program

Funding for field science and education programs are a constant challenge to meet the needs of a thriving nonprofit organization. MCERC continues to seek avenues for obtaining the necessary financial support so important to leading marine and coastal conservation initiatives.

Please consider sponsoring a program, project, or student, and treat yourself to gifts purchased in the MCERC online store and art galleries. The galleries and stores are constantly updated to being fresh, interesting and unique, items that are certain to catch your attention.

Volunteers are setting up humpback whale sound tracks from singers recorded on our Caribbean research excursions. You will be able to “adopt” a whale, turtle, shark, and dolphin and receive your adoption packet which includes information about that individual and where it was photographed. Award winning photographers and marine biologists will have galleries set up online for you to order prints, posters, canvasses, and postcards by visiting their room in the online gallery and placing an order for your favorite images. Their work will be refreshed periodically so you can purchase their images as they are displayed. Consider a gift certificate for a birthday, holiday, or graduation for an aspiring marine biologist. All of your purchases support marine and coastal conservation!

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Copyright and photo credit information

Copyright and photo credit information All images posted to the MCERC website are copyright protected. Images are the property of MCERC or the original photographer who has granted MCERC expressed permission in writing for use of their images. Photographs shall not be reproduced or shared for any purpose unless the owner of the images has given permission in writing.