Dauphin Island Sea Lab – Kid and Family Programs

First established in 1960 as a laboratory of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Dauphin Island Sea Lab off the coast of Alabama has been extensively developed and is now a top Gulf Coast research facility/estuarium.

Today this facility is one of most rewarding and enlightening family friendly things to do on the island. The researchers here study a wide range of different habitats and marine life while allowing kids and adults to participate in a variety of interactive exhibits and events.

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab sits on a 35 mile campus bordered by the Mobile Bay in the north and the Gulf of Mexico in the south. It is equipped with full research facilities including lab spaces, a state of the art running sea water facility, two in-house vessels for sea exploration, a data management center and more.

The location of Dauphin Island allows for easy research access with proximity to four distinct coastal Alabama habitats.

The stated purpose of the Dauphin Island Sea lab is to pursue excellence and contribute towards marine science education, research, coastal zone management and engagement with the public.

However, the purpose of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab doesn’t just end with research. Public interest has also propelled the Sea Lab to new heights.

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Reaching Out to Visitors

One of the key activities at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is to reach out to people beyond the circle of marine researchers and students. There are a variety of programs organized by the lab with the intent of spreading awareness on marine life and habitats.

As part of this effort, a facility called The Estuarium was developed. The Estuarium is a public educational aquarium that showcases wildlife and research from four key habitats on the Alabama coast: Mobile Bay, the Mobile Tersaw River Delta, the Northern Gulf of Mexico and the Barrier Islands.

This facility offers several family friendly marine exhibits and educational events to inspire visitors to develop their knowledge and interest in marine ecosystems.

The Estuarium features 31 aquariums holding 30,000 gallons of water displaying more than 100 species, along with 10,000 square feet of exhibits and a large stingray touch pool.

It educates visitors on the various types of animals, plants and other natural resources that are found in the habitats around coastal Alabama. The interactive exhibits are exciting and fun for kids and adults of all ages.

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Programs, Activities, and Things to Do

There are a number of programs and events organized by the Sea Lab and Estuarium. One popular event is the twice monthly Boardwalk Talk, which provides an opportunity for the public to interact and engage with Dauphin Island Sea Lab experts on various sciences related topics.

Boardwalk Talk programs dive headfirst into topics related to marine life, habitats, climate change, reefs, oil spills, sea level changes, change in saline levels, and more. This family friendly program is free and provides a great opportunity to gain an understanding of the marine life directly from the experts.

Apart from the talk program, there are also various organized excursions. The summer excursion program involves taking visitors around the various habitats which are studied and researched by students at Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

The “Salt Marsh Summer Excursion” takes visitors to fascinating local coastal salt marshes. These marshes remain critical habitat for the survival of the estuary. On these family friendly trips, visitors get the opportunity to have a hands-on experience being a scientist for a day and collect samples including live animals which are studied and released.

The “Beach Dune and Maritime Forest Excursion,” provides another opportunity for kids and adults to explore the barrier island’s various habitats including dunes, beaches, and forested terrain. Types of wildlife that participants might spot during this excursion includes ghost crabs, mole crabs, osprey, dolphins, alligators, and many other bird species.

The Sea Lab’s Discovery Hall programs started in 1975 with the purpose of promoting the message of conservation through education, research, and outreach programs to K-12 kids.

Discovery Hall programs reach around 15,000 students each year through summer camps or academic year programs. Summer programs for kids include day camps, overnight camps and an assortment of academic courses.

ACP Real Estate

900 Bienville Blvd.
P.O. Box 1177
Dauphin Island, Alabama 36528

(251) 861-3311

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