The staff of our Refuges have been working in partnership with the staff of the University of Florida's new Nature Coast Biological Station (NCBS) ever since NCBS started building its science programs in Cedar Key and the whole Big Bend region. With the significant cuts to the number of staff at the Refuges, this cooperation between the organizations has increased the science available to the Refuge managers and has provided insight and connections to the community for the newly established NCBS.
After two years of program building and physical construction, NCBS officially opened its facility in Cedar Key on September 23, welcoming the community to visit. More than 1,000 people attended. In addition to touring the new building, two Refuge boats and three NCBS boats shuttled visitors back and forth all day to Seahorse Key, which is part of the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge. There, the visitors could see the island and the lab which NCBS manages at the Light Station in a partnership arrangement with the Refuge.