Sunday, April 9, 2017

Institute for Marine Mammal Studies Tour

The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies is located in Gulfport, Mississippi.  I just happened to stumble upon this little gem while planning our return trip home from visiting family in Houston.  The kids love animals of all kinds and we have a fondness for sea animals.  This looked like a great place to learn more about marine mammals and marine life.

The facility offers family tours by advance reservations.  During the tour, guests get to encounter stingrays, sharks, horseshoe crabs, blue crabs, different fish species, sea stars, dolphins and many others!

The program started in the auditorium with a bird presentation.  We met Miss Daisy, a cockatoo, and her trainer.  Miss Daisy has the intelligence of a two to three year-old child.  She talked for us and performed several tasks.  She can place trash in a trashcan, put a ball in a hoop, play dead, dance, sort rings, etc.  We learned about the needs of a bird and how they are a life time commitment. 

Next, we entered the Discovery room.  The room has a very large touch tank with rays and horseshoe crabs.  There were two smaller touch tanks with hermit crabs, blue crabs, and starfish.  The entire room was lined with different aquariums filled with fish, turtles, alligators, and snakes.  There was so much to see and do.

The tour continued into the museum room.  There were displays of different marine animals.  Several interactive displays had games to play and facts to learn.  The room had a nice display of sea shells and an area to dig for sharks teeth.

We made our way back to the auditorium to learn about sea turtles.  We learned about loggerheads, green sea turtles, and leatherback sea turtles.  The guides brought out a baby alligator for everyone to pet at the end of the reptile portion of the tour.

We then went to the dolphin pool to learn about these magnificent mammals. The guide gave us background information on Apollo.  His trainer had him perform several tricks during this portion of the tour.  He was very playful.

After the dolphin encounter, we went to the Sea Lion encounter.  We met Maya the sea lion and her trainer.  The show they put on was very entertaining.  We learned the difference between sea lions, seals, and walruses during the show.

If you are ever in the Gulfport, Mississippi area, book a tour for the Institute of Marine Mammal Studies and enjoy!