Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge

Wednesday February 20, 2013
Site 49, Sebastian Inlet State Park
Vero Beach, Florida



Wherever we stay, I always look for National Wildlife Refuges. 
This area has TWO!!!


Sunrise at Sebastian Inlet (26)

After the sun fights a battle with the clouds this morning, we have breakfast and drive up the road to the Barrier Island Center which is the primary visitor and education center for the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.   The refuge spans 20.5 linear miles along Florida’s central Atlantic coast and represents the nation’s most significant land conservation and acquisition initiative to protect sea turtle nesting beaches.




It seems they can get along to do good if they try.

This refuge is part of a unique federal, state, county and private partnership showing inspiring cooperation among government agencies, conservation groups and the local community which has resulted in the purchase of 1,325 acres of barrier island habitats within the Refuge’s acquisition boundary.  This refuge map shows dozens of undeveloped protected areas along both the Indian River lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean.

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There is too much to see inside on such a sunshiny day.

This wonderful educational center within the Wildlife Refuge is part of the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program and a partner with the Sea Turtle Conservancy organization started by Carr who is famous for bringing the plight of the sea turtles to international attention in the 1950’s.  

His work is shown in one of the series of short films shown.  We watch 3 of them and then decide to look around the center briefly and head outside.  It is  too gorgeous a day to spend inside and rain is predicted for next week.  The Sanctuary has so much wonderful information done in such interesting way that I want to give it the time it deserves.   Looks great doesn’t it?


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How about a preview??  

Want to hear the sounds of the lagoon?  Pick up one of the seashell speakers, press the button and listen to the voices of any one of 6 lagoon residents.  Loved this!

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We head outside where there is a beautiful deck overlooking the ocean and a couple of sad facts.

Just off of the deck they have the skulls of a humpback and a right whale with information about each and their sadly dwindling numbers.

This is the humpback skull.  The stranded dead whale was  found within 3 blocks of the center. There remain an estimated 11,570 humpback whales world wide.


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The right whale (one sad skull picture is enough) is among the most endangered whales with an estimated population of only 350-400.  Historically depleted by commercial whaling, whales mortality is now due to ship strikes, fishing gear entanglements, under water noise pollution and raw waste still dumped into our oceans by cruise ships and the U.S. Navy according to several sources with which I checked.

The coastal waters off Florida and Georgia are the only known calving area for North Atlantic right whales.  A very sad situation 

On to more uplifting subjects.


There are all kinds of good works going on here.

The center is an advocacy group for many estuary and marine concerns.  They also have many volunteer activities in which local people and visitors can become involved.   Today the volunteers are making oyster mats to seed the oyster beds of the lagoon and inlet.  These folks are well underway when we come upon them.  Sure is a beautiful place to make a difference.

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Note to self:  check when you first arrive in an area if you are staying for  a couple of weeks to see what environmental volunteer help you might provide.


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A Tortoise in turtle land.



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The center also has a short trail that begins just beyond the parking lot and circles around and back to their boardwalk adjacent to the deck where the volunteers are working.
Looks like those kayak tunnel entrances in the Everglades doesn’t it?

Three species of sea turtles regularly nest here on the protected beaches:  loggerheads, green turtles and leatherbacks.  The Wildlife Refuge is the most important nesting site for loggerheads in the Western Hemisphere and more green turtles nest here than anywhere else in the continental US.


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We are too early in the year for nesting sea turtles, April to October is the time,  but we do find a gopher tortoise hole just off the trail and the tortoise is nearby.  He’s sunning in the upper middle of the first picture.  Maybe he recognizes this as a place of safety.


His close up looks like he’s had some sort of a mishap.






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As you can see from the map, the center’s concerns include not only the ocean habitat but also the lagoon and the St. Sebastian River.   The trail soon heads across A1A to the lagoon side.


There are many signs showing restoration activities accomplished by the center.  The trail is very informative.  Not to mention, very beautiful.


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One of the signs shows this cool land crab and says he lives in these holes.  Boy would I like to see him.  I keep a close look out but no luck.


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We cross back over A1A and as we approach the boardwalk where we are reminded to be respectful.


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If you are ever on A1A stop here.  You’ll learn a lot and if you have the time maybe you can help out.   Sure wish I’d known about those oyster mats a few days ago.


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  1. That sounds like fun. I think I would like to volunteer at a refuse on a specific project. I wonder if there web pages indicate the kinds of projects that might be happening. If so that would help in planning arrival and departure times with projects. I'll have to check into that! Thanks for the info.

  2. With all the budget cuts to our National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges, volunteer activities are more important than ever. Any one who wants to, can make a difference!

    1. You would think that, but we were reading an articale this week that said that many parks would have to eliminate their volunteers because they wouldn't have anybody to coordinate them! Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

  3. Loved the Archie Carr refuge center, and that's a great idea for volunteering. Always thought they wouldn't be interested in short timer, but you never know. Loved the tortoise photo.

  4. LOVE the sunrise... and the sun does hold quite a battle at times ... always interesting to watch. That's the one thing about this motel, the sunrises are just stellar. Gonna go try and find a good place for the sunset ... but my old eyeballs in this forested country doesn't do well.

    Anyway! I could swear I have been To Archie Carr... everything looks so familiar ... but blast if I can find a post... I may have gone the 'other times' I was there instead of this past year. CRS

    Gorgeous as always, Sherry ;)

  5. Sherry, It seems like every where you go is just a little more beautiful than the place before. Volunteering sounds like a wonderful idea! Thanks for being my eyes today. Yesterday we spent the day at the aquarium with our grand daughter. If I would have read this before we were there I wouldn't have known about Left and Right Whales but we attended a learning sessions on whales and that is one of the things I learned about.

  6. Beautiful sunrise! I don't usually see them, so it's always nice to catch them on your blog. ;-)

  7. I don't think I've ever been to any of the National Wildlife Refuges. I hope to change that during the coming year. Your description and photos are superb!

  8. We are looking for volunteer opps in FL while we are down there next year. I'm sure there are lots of places!

  9. Another beautiful & informative blog...

  10. I've never really visited a NWR - I think I'll have to find one. Great blog.

  11. I'm canceling my subscription to National Geographic magazine. I learn so much more about the wonders of nature from your blog, and you publish it for free! ;c)

  12. Never heard of oyster mats before ... what an interesting concept, and seems like an easy way to contribute to conservation.

  13. I love this place! Olivia and her Girl Scout troop took a wading trip into the Indian River Lagoon, right there where you posted a picture from. One of the staff took us out...yep, I went too. The girls used seine nets to catch fish and identify them, and Olivia and the three girls she was with caught a Southern puffer fish. He's in a tank inside now. Isn't it awesome there??

  14. Excellent place! So lovely to see a place doing good and people involved in something so positive. Pretty place too - the flowers, trees and butterflies. Looks like a very informative a fun day indeed! Great sunrise picture! How artistic.

  15. I bet if the temps are in the 70s, there are jelly fish...no thanks to that, but maybe if you keep toward the edge of the water, they won't be there. Maybe...?? Impressive surfer - he's definitely having a good February time! Those oranges...mmm!


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