New OCEARCH research center could be expanding to Mayport

MAYPORT, Fla – A new OCEARCH research center could be coming to Mayport.

The organization that partners with Jacksonville University will reel in 7-million-dollars from the state budget to advance shark research if it’s signed off by Governor DeSantis.

This multi-million-dollar grant will be distributed in two ways, $4.5 million will go to OCEARCH’s new headquarters in Mayport and the remanding $2.5 million will cover marine mammal research, including a new rapid response boat.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity not just for Jacksonville University and OCEARCH but for the entire state of Florida,” Marine Science Research Institute JU Executive Director Dr. Quinton White says.

It will also serve as headquarters for JU’s Marine Science Research Institute.

There are no design sketches available yet—But the facility will host institutions from across the state to study and develop marine life research.

“This is going to be significant for us but also other institutions across the state and frankly throughout the Southeast,” White says.

This grant is going to help fund research to prevent the endangerment of sharks locally and statewide.

While most sharks have healthy-sized populations, the National Ocean Service says several of them are shrinking at alarming rates. The agency blames overfishing, bycatch, and shark finning.

Ending this is a core reason why OCEARCH and JU requested the million-dollar funding from the state.

“If we can save sharks and understand sharks then we have a better chance to save the oceans. It’s really that simple,” White says.

The budget was approved Monday. At this moment, there isn’t an exact location for the building yet and the new facility won’t be ready for about two years.

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This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.