MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – The Gulf Coast is home to a diverse ecosystem filled with abundant wildlife. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab leads excursions into those habitats right here at home.

They have three different excursions. One is a beach dune maritime forest, one is a boat excursion out at their research vessel, and the third is a salt marsh adventure, which I attended.

We took a short trip to a salt marsh ecosystem about three miles west from the Sea Lab near the Jeremiah Denton Airport. We went out into the marsh with nets and buckets and collected animals, looked at plants, and talked about salt marsh ecology. From snails to blue crabs, I was able to learn about how different critters have a unique role in the salt marsh ecosystem.

These salt marsh excursions are such a valuable way for the Gulf Coast community to learn to protect and conserve the environment. Mendel Graeber, the Aquarium Educator with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab who led the excursion, says, “I think that people that feel a lot more connection with the ecosystem when they are out in it.”

Beyond the books, it is an educational experience that puts you into the environment. Graeber says these excursions bring a sense of “joy, and wonder, and excitement”. She also says, “I think that people leave enthusiastic about the ecosystem that they have just visited.”

So, even if you can’t attend a Sea Lab excursion, they encourage you to take time to get outside and observe. “It makes a big difference, not just for the ecosystems and learning, but also I feel like it improves people’s quality of life to get out into nature,” says Graeber.

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab is doing their part to grow the gulf coast, one excursion at a time. For more information on these excursions, you can head to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab website!