The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium provides an educational and exciting aquarium experience for visitors and locals alike. The public aquarium focuses on Alabama's four key coastal ecosystems: the northern Gulf of Mexico, the barrier islands, Mobile Bay, and the Mobile Tensaw River Delta. In addition to its exhibit hall, which spans 10,000 square feet, the aquarium includes the Living Marsh Boardwalk and a stingray touch pool containing 7,000 gallons of water. The Estuarium is part of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab's Discovery Hall educational program.
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Overall, the Estuarium consists of 31 aquariums with over 100 species on display within more than 30,000 gallons of water. The facility showcases the animals, plants, and other natural resources native to the Estuary and the surrounding marine habitats. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium leaves visitors with a better understanding of the interactions that occur in Mobile Bay, the country's fourth largest estuary system, through interactive exhibits and stunning visual exhibits.
The exhibit at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium focusing on the northern Gulf of Mexico contains a variety of displays of marine communities. These displays feature jellyfish, sharks, red snappers, seahorses, eels, lobsters, and octopus. The Barrier Islands exhibit showcases saltwater species often seen on or around the barrier islands of Alabama, such as hermit crabs, blue crabs, and shrimp. A representation of the Middle Bay Lighthouse's legs is featured in the Mobile Bay exhibit. The replica is home to species native to Mobile Bay's brackish water, including flounder, spadefish, oysters, blue crabs, horseshoe crabs, and stone crabs.
The largest wetland in Alabama is recreated in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta exhibit. The displays feature multiple species in its aquariums, including gar, turtles, and the American alligator. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium's newest exhibit, Rays of the Bay, made its debut in 2013. This 6,400-gallon touch tank features six sets of four different species of skates and rays indigenous to Mobile Bay and the northern Gulf of Mexico. Species found within the giant touch tank include the Atlantic stingray, the cownose ray, and the southern stingray.
A number of public events are also provided by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium. One of the public programs offered at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium is its Boardwalk Talk series. This free program occurs late in the morning on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. These talks include a chat with experts at the Estuarium, including aquarists, researchers, technicians, educators, post docs, and graduate students. The informal chats cover a wide array of science topics, such as sea level change, climate change, hypoxia, oyster reefs, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, salt marshes, sharks, and habitat restoration.
Another program provided by the Estuarium is the Summer Excursion program. This summer experience takes visitors into the habitats at the Estuarium that are the focus of study by the facility's students, researchers, and marine scientists. Each summer excursion investigates a different type of habitat, and they are offered on select dates during the summer months.
101 Bienville Boulevard, Dauphin Island, AL 36528, Phone: 251-861-4646