Open 9 am - 6 pm
The R/V Coral Reef II, Shedd's research vessel, is a floating research laboratory station in the Bahamas.
Shark expert Steve Kessel wipes a swab along a shark's skin from the back of Shedd's research vessel, the Coral Reef II, in the Caribbean.

Extending Shedd’s reach  

The aquarium’s seagoing satellite is based in Miami, but for much of the year it’s a familiar sight throughout the Bahamian archipelago. For more than two decades, the boat has given Shedd researchers and teams of volunteer community scientists access to far-flung cays in the Bahamas to study critically endangered rock iguanas.

The ocean-going vessel also enables our scientists to conduct open-water studies, including population surveys of the economically and ecologically important queen conch and nassau grouper; studies on coral health and resiliency to climate change; and shark demographic studies. Our research projects are conducted in collaboration with the Bahamian government and local conservation organizations. 

Each year the boat also takes Chicago-area college and high school students enrolled in both the ACCA Marine and Island Ecology of The Bahamas and Teen Science Expedition program to nature’s classroom in the Bahamas, where they study reef and island ecology in the water and in a lab on deck.

Conservation ambassadors aboard

The recognizable blue-and-white boat is also a symbol of Shedd as a conservation ambassador: When the R/V Coral Reef II docks at local settlements, the school kids look forward to a classroom visit from Shedd experts, who’ve inspired them to help protect their unique island wildlife.

This remarkable resource is also available to other aquariums, conservation organizations and institutions of higher learning for their collecting, research and educational programs. Among other trips, the boat was chartered to search for the sunken remains of the Santa Maria.

Related research projects