For this week’s episode of Destination Gulf Coast, we found ourselves in what can be described as the closest thing to Atlantis here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; the Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport, right along the shoreline. The Mississippi Aquarium is a beautiful new facility that opened in August of last year, right in the middle of a pandemic.
Upon our arrival, I was greeted by several staffers, all of whom have worked at the Aquarium “since it was a pile of dirt”, so you could immediately tell that this was a dedicated staff. Once inside, I had a chance to speak with Meredith Horn, Vice President of Guest Experience and Education. It was there where she revealed to me that The Mississippi Aquarium sits on 5.8 acres of land, and that over 80% of the aquarium was outside. I also learned that there are over 200 different types of fish and 300 different species of animals at the Mississippi Aquarium.
After speaking with Meredith, it was time to have some fun, as I made my way over to the petting tank where I was able to touch several different types of aquatic life including sting rays, sharks, and one that literally made me yelp out loud in the middle of the aquarium, splashing water all over myself and the floor, the horseshoe crab.
From there, I had the opportunity to speak with the President and CEO of the Mississippi Aquarium Kurt Allen. This is where I learned about the research and conservation that they are actively involved with, which ties into their 3 pillars, or “sails” as the staff refers to them, of Education, Conservation and Community, as well as being a nonprofit organization. So, when you visit, not only are you being submerged into an aquatic wonderland, but you’re also helping with the important causes of research and education about aquatic life on the Gulf Coast.
After an informative conversation with Kurt Allen, it was time to head outside, where I got to meet some adorable river otters, see a giant sea turtle, and watch dolphins during feeding time. Much like myself, they looked very happy when it was time to eat. They even had a bird aviary that I was able to check out! All in all, it was a great time at the Mississippi Aquarium, and if conservation is important to you and you would like to be wowed by the majestic beauty of the sea without having to leave the shore, The Mississippi Aquarium is definitely a place that you’ll want to check out!
For more information on The Mississippi Aquarium go to www.MSAquarium.org.