Indian River Lagoon Observatory

Indian River Lagoon Symposium

The centerpiece of IRLO’s fostering of collaboration and dissemination of scientific information is the Indian River Lagoon Symposium (IRLS). The IRLS is the result of a multi-institutional, multi-agency effort to provide a forum for discussing Indian River Lagoon science and its application to management of the lagoon. The symposium is open to scientists, decision makers, students, education and outreach professionals, and the interested public. The intent is to facilitate better communication among these groups so that the gaps between research and its application can be narrowed.

The goals of the IRLS are to:
  • provide a forum to disseminate current knowledge of the IRL and its management;
  • foster collaborations and discussions among scientists, students, education and outreach professionals, and decision makers;
  • promote participation of university students and new scientists;
  • provide results and discussions that can be used to inform policy related to management of the IRL; and
  • increase public awareness of the IRL and its ecological and economic importance
Each symposium is kicked off by a keynote lecturer on the year’s theme. Three of those speakers have been: Mark Perry (Florida Oceanographic Society; 2015), Bob Virnstein (Seagrass Ecosystems Analysts; 2014), and Grant Gilmore (Estuarine, Coastal and Ocean Science, Inc.; 2012).
In 2013, a second day of activities focused on public participation was added to the annual Indian River Lagoon Symposium.

Each year a Steering Committee comprised of representatives from the broader IRL scientific community guides the program and overall organization. The Steering Committee is instrumental in making the symposium a truly collaborative effort within the diverse IRL research community. While each year the Steering Committee selects a theme, oral presentations and posters on all aspects of science relating to the Lagoon are encouraged. Although this meeting is open to anyone interested in sharing their knowledge, activities, and ideas, contributions by university students and early-career professionals are encouraged.

Following the initial success of the first symposium in 2012, the Steering Committee added another half-day to IRLS 2013, A Forum on Lagoon Health, to enable direct interactions of the scientific community and the public on lagoon matters. That first forum demonstrated a strong consensus that local communities need to come together and utilize scientific information to address Lagoon issues. The forums in the last two symposia have focused on citizen science, providing opportunities for public involvement in various research projects and some of the outcomes of these efforts.

All programs and abstracts for the Indian River Lagoon Symposia are available at: