Aquatic Resources Education Center

The Aquatic Resources Education Center, operated by the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife, focuses on wetlands, fishing and other aquatic education themes.

A barn-like building seen from across a field in fall. It has a covered porch and shed-style wing.

Contact Us

Mary Rivera
Aquatic Resources Education Center
2520 Lighthouse Road
Smyrna, DE 19977

Visit Us on the Bayshore

The Aquatic Resources Education Center (AREC) is located along the scenic Delaware Bayshore Byway (Route 9), about 5 miles north of the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

Nestled within the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area, the center features several ponds, a 940-foot tidal marsh boardwalk and various other natural areas.

It offers a prime venue for exploring the Delaware Bay coastal ecosystem and the abundant wildlife it supports. Catch and release fishing is permitted at two designated ponds.

The new education building has several large aquariums and other educational displays.

At the Aquatic Resources Education Center, you can…

A boardwalk section from a waterside trail out into a coastal marsh and back, seen from the air.

Listen to the wind ruffle the salt grass as you stroll along the boardwalk.

Catch a glimpse of ships sailing out on the Bay as egrets and herons stalk the stream in search of tasty fish.

Watch fiddler crabs in their world of mud.

Test your angling skills at one of the fishing ponds.

Hike out to Taylors Gut or drive to the observation tower for more beautiful vistas

Walk the interpretive trail to learn more about the rich history of this exquisite corner of Delaware and the fish and critters that live here.

Small Fry Adventures

A group of children, led by a naturalist, explore the edge of a pond.

Small Fry Adventures are perfect for youngsters aged 4 to 7 who would like to learn about fish and other critters that live in a tidal salt marsh. Kids will have a chance to view marine life in the aquariums at the Aquatic Resources Education Center and make a simple craft with an aquatic theme.

Upcoming Small Fry Adventures

July 23, 2024 -- Aquatic Resources Education Center

July 30, 2024 -- Aquatic Resources Education Center

August 6, 2024 -- Aquatic Resources Education Center

Participation in the Small Fry Adventures program is free, but pre-registration is required.

To register, please email your name, the date of the event, and the number in your group to

Become a Volunteer

Eco-Explorers Program

Volunteers with the Eco-Explorers Program teach small groups of students about the wonders of the tidal salt marsh ecosystem and guide students as they learn about fish, macro-invertebrates, plants, and water quality. This is a great opportunity to work outside in a beautiful salt marsh! Volunteer schedules are flexible. Training is provided.

Take a Kid Fishing! and Family Fishing Programs

Volunteers with the Take a Kid Fishing! and other family fishing programs do not need to have any special knowledge of fishing. Some are avid anglers, other volunteer to assist with activities like knot tying or fish printing. There is something for everyone who would like to get outdoors and join other volunteers in a great program for kids!

To volunteer with the Aquatic Resources Education Center, contact Mary Rivera.