Come Learn with Us!



From shipwrecks to coral reefs to bridges, many underwater sites in Palm Beach County are becoming increasingly popular among divers and snorkelers for the remarkable abundance and diversity of unusual marine life they support.  

Seasonal influxes of large animals such as sea turtles, goliath grouper, and sharks enhance the already impressive year-round variety of fish and invertebrates, and provide great opportunities for underwater naturalists to encounter rare and unique animals not easily found elsewhere.

The Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society is now offering programs for snorkelers, divers, and marine life enthusiasts to learn more about our local marine habitats and why they attract to so many species, from the very small to the very large.  

One, two, or three day programs are available during which participants will receive a personalized introduction to the natural history of SE Florida’s reefs plus sea turtle, marine mammal, fish, and invertebrate identification training.  Experts in marine biology and fish identification will lead guided tours of select dive and snorkel sites, and provide opportunities for guests to contribute to ongoing marine research and conservation projects.  


May 17th: THE DOLPHINS OF PALM BEACH COUNTY (non-diving): Join Zoo Conservation Biologist Larry Wood and Dr. Barbara Brunnick of Jupiter's Taras Oceanographic Foundation for a closer look at the wild dolphins that frequent the waters of Palm Beach County.  For many years, Dr. Brunnick has been photographically cataloging the bottlenose and spotted dolphins found in our waters, and has compiled the only information available about the abundance and population structure of these marvelous members of our local marine community.  Host:  Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures, Riviera Beach 

May 24th: WRECK VS. REEF:  HOW ARTIFICIAL REEFS ENHANCE LOCAL MARINE COMMUNITIES: Since the 1960's, various structures that include ships, concrete debris, and limerock boulders have been deployed in local waters as part of the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management's (ERM) Artificial Reef Program.  These structures provide new substrates for the development of coral reef communities, and have become 'islands of diversity' among the many natural reefs of the area.  In this program, ERM's Dr. Janet Phipps will join Zoo Conservation Biologist Larry Wood to provide an overview of the Artificial Reef Program, and general instruction on the identification and census of local marine species.  Hosts:  Force-E Dive Shops and Narcosis Dive Charters, Riviera Beach

June 14th: SEA TURTLES!: They're back!  The summer months are the busiest of the year for sea turtles in South Florida.  Loggerhead, green, and leatherback turtles are here for nesting, and the resident hawksbills are a common sight on our local reefs.  In this program, Zoo Conservation Biologist Larry Wood (and guest experts) will provide an overview of the current status of sea turtle biology and conservation, and a close-up introduction to the Zoo's Florida Hawksbill Project, which is the only project of its kind in Palm Beach County waters.  Host:  Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures, Riviera Beach

June 28th: WHO'S WHO: THE AMAZING DIVERSITY OF PALM BEACH COUNTY'S MARINE LIFE: The Gulf Stream Current comes closest to the mainland U.S. right here in Palm Beach County.  These warm, clear waters provide the environmental conditions necessary for tropical marine species to thrive.  Still however, our relatively northerly latitude also attracts species from the sub-tropics, resulting in a remarkably diverse assemblage of fish and invertebrate species.  Join Linton Creel and Laura Doran of the Palm Beach County Reef Research Team for a thorough overview of local fish and invertebrate classification and identification.  Host:   Jim Abernethy's Scuba Adventures, Riviera Beach

August 9th & 30th: A RETURN OF GIANTS: THE GOLIATH GROUPER: Every year, the region's goliath grouper get together to spawn.  Luckily for us here in Palm Beach County, this has become among their favorite destinations!  Several local shipwrecks host dozens of these sofa-sized fish in late summer and fall, and they have become a favorite among divers.  In this program, the biology and conservation of the goliath grouper will be discussed, with a focus on the importance of our local reefs for the continued recovery of this long-endangered species.  Host:  Narcosis Dive Charters, Riviera Beach

...AND More to Come!

These programs include a morning classroom session and an afternoon field component, and can be extended to more than one day upon request.  

One-day Program:  $145 per person includes classroom instruction, a guided two-tank dive aboard local professional dive charters, and post-dive discussion.  $45 per person for classroom session only.  Group/student rates available, as are accommodations for out-of-town guests at select hotels.   An open- water dive certification is required to participate in all diving activities.

Customize your own program!  If you have an interested group, special topic, and/or other dates in mind that aren't on the schedule, we may be able to accommodate you!


To reserve your spot and/or for more information contact Larry Wood at

Palm Beach County’s reefs are teeming with life.  Still, pressures from coastal development and climate change threaten these diverse habitats.  The more you know, the more you will be amazed at the diversity of life right off our shores!  Learn more about Palm Beach County’s marine life through the Zoo’s conservation programs.  Photo:  T. Roberts

Contact Us

Palm Beach Zoo

1301 Summit Boulevard
West Palm Beach, Florida 33405-3035
(561) 547-9453

Support for the Palm Beach Zoo is provided by:

Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.