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  • Writer's pictureTrey Tracy

Institute for Marine Mammal Studies and Ocean Adventures

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

Whether your travels take you through the Mississippi Gulf Coast or you live nearby and are looking for something fun to do, check out Ocean Adventures & Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) in Gulfport.

IMMS is a non-profit organization established in 1984 for the purposes of public education, conservation, and research on marine mammals and other animals in the wild and under human care.

The Ocean Adventures portion of the institute opened with the idea of making learning fun for the whole family by giving its visitors the opportunity to have up-close experiences with dolphins, sea lions, sharks, stingrays, and birds!

My family and I recently visited Ocean Adventures. When we first got there, we visited the Tweeter Post, a parakeet area where our children had the opportunity to feed them. You are surrounded by hundreds of parakeets just flying around and eagerly wanting the bird seed that you have for them.

There are several areas that have shows or presentations throughout the day. The shows we saw were a reptile presentation, a wild bird presentation, a dolphin show and a sea lion show. There is also a stingray exhibit where visitors can pet stingrays. You can even swim with stingrays and sharks!

In the original part of the institute, they have a discovery room where visitors can see many types of fish in aquariums and see horseshoe and other crabs in a large tank in the center of the room. There is also a museum and a dolphin exhibit where visitors can interact with dolphins and sea lions.

While the visitors will surely enjoy the ‘edutainment’ offered, they may not realize all the important work going on at IMMS. I got the opportunity to speak with Dr. Moby Solangi, Director of the institute, to learn more about what they do “behind the scenes.” IMMS has a state-of-the-art hospital to treat injured marine mammals and sea turtles. They also have a necropsy lab, a sea turtle rehabilitation center, and other, larger rehabilitation pools for injured or sick dolphins.

The day after our visit, six Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles were released back into their natural habitat. These turtles had been rehabilitated after being accidentally injured by fishermen. These fisherman did the right thing in calling IMMS to report the injuries. Just cutting the line to release the turtle can cause further damage.

Admission prices vary depending on the activities you choose. For full list of adventures and prices, visit Adventures – Ocean Adventures. I highly recommend you pre-purchase your tickets online so you can skip the admission line.

For more information:

  1. Ocean Adventures

  2. Institute for Marine Mammal Studies The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies


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