JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The state of Florida has designated $5 million in funding for Jacksonville University and its world-renowned ocean research partner Ocearch for a marine science research facility in Mayport.
Located on 1.18 acres of waterfront property at the mouth of the St. Johns River, the facility will serve as the hub for Ocearch’s collaborative research efforts, experiential education programs and vessel operations. Jacksonville University and Ocearch expect to break ground on the project by 2024.
Ocearch is an independent research and education non-profit whose mission is to return our world’s oceans to balance and abundance through scientific research, education, outreach, and policy.
“Right now, and for many years to come, Jacksonville University believes exploration, education and scientific discovery are the key ingredients to achieving real progress in tackling massive challenges of our time, such as climate change and healthy oceans,” said JU President Tim Cost. “For the past two years, Jacksonville University and Ocearch have been working with the City of Jacksonville, Mayport community groups and our local delegation on this important project, and we are honored to receive this generous support from the state to advance our plans.”
Ocearch Founder and JU Explorer in Residence Chris Fischer said the funding is a dream come true.
“Our mission at Ocearch is to accelerate the oceans’ return to balance and abundance through fearless innovations in scientific research, while using a unique collaborative approach to solve critical problems in the waters around the globe. It’s inspiring to see the State of Florida, City of Jacksonville, and Jacksonville University stepping up to support our non-profit work on the water,” Fischer said.
Plans for the Ocearch Global Headquarters consist of spaces for public education and meetings, Ocearch ship operations, dockage for various research vessels, a state-of-the-art marine life research laboratory with data and academic resource management, and basic housing for researchers and crew members. A concrete dock funded by the city of Jacksonville is currently under construction at the site. The facility plans to host visitors from around the world by offering interactive and educational community programming, especially for young, aspiring scientists.
Dr. Quint White, executive director of Jacksonville University’s Marine Science Research Institute said the goal is to educate visitors on why marine organisms, including sharks, are so important for the health of the world’s oceans and for our global climate.
“On a deeper level, we also want to inspire the next generation of scientists to continue exploring and discovering our vast oceans,” White said.