As one of 29 National Estuarine Research Reserves in the country, the GTM Research Reserve protects 74,000 acres of conservation lands and waters, preserving a diversity of plants, animals, and cultural resources. The site focuses on research, education, and stewardship. Some of the GTM’s research includes monitoring water quality, oyster populations, and salt marshes. The GTM encourages education through workshops, summer camps, and virtual reality programs. Stewardship includes regular beach cleanups and habitat restoration.
The GTM Research Reserve offers a variety of activities and experiences for visitors. Upon entering the Visitor Center, come face-to-face with life-size recreations of marine animals suspended from the ceiling. The building also features tanks of local aquatic life, including a reptile room of snakes and alligators, as well as dioramas, interactive displays, and a telescope for observing bald eagles.
Outdoor trails vary in length for casual strolling and intense hiking, even allowing four-legged visitors. The site also features opportunities for picnicking, fishing, and paddle boarding (rentals available). Visitors can sign up for guided cultural and natural hikes, seasonal nature walks, family seining, and more. Families can make the most of their visit by participating in a scavenger hunt of habitats or enjoying a guided beach exploration, complete with hunting for shark teeth.
GTM Research Reserve has partnered with KultureCity to offer the Visitor Center and all the programs and events it hosts as sensory inclusive. Prior to visiting the reserve, families can download the free KultureCity APP from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. There, they can view what sensory accommodations are available and where they can access them. Also featured on the app is a “Social Story” which will provide a preview of what to expect during a typical visit.
For more information on the GTM Research Reserve, visit their website or check out their calendar of monthly events.