Discover with DISL - April 5-10, 2021

Mark your calendars for a week of Discovery at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab from April 5 through the 10. The week is an opportunity for us to celebrate 50 years of research and education with you. 

We invite you to join our marine educators outdoors each day to explore the life of a marine scientist on a fun family field trip. You can walk the beach like never before, discover what lies hidden in the amazing salt marsh habitat, and even take a trip aboard the Research Vessel Alabama Discovery to learn what lives below the waves. 

On Saturday, April 10, take a journey through our public aquarium and chat with our marine scientists, students, and educators as they share their research and fun facts you may not know about the Alabama Watershed and the northern Gulf of Mexico. 

Monday, April 5

Salt Marsh Excursion
Register
9:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Salt marshes are not monotonous expanses of grass; they’re fascinating coastal wetlands that are critical to our estuary system. Be a marine scientist for a day, and use seine nets, buckets, shovels, and sieve boxes to collect samples, including crabs, snails, and fish (we’ll release animals back to the marsh). You’ll learn about the important role salt marshes play in the Gulf of Mexico and how they support the seafood we enjoy.

What to wear:  Proper footwear is very important for your safety and enjoyment. Because of sharp oyster shells, participants are advised to wear closed-toe shoes that tie or strap on, such as old tennis shoes. Please no flip-flops, Crocs, or rubber boots as they get ‘eaten’ by the marsh mud. Wear clothes that can get wet and muddy. 

What to bring:  hat, sunscreen, water bottle, change of clothes and shoes, bag for muddy items

Ask the Educator- Gulf of Mexico Deep Wonders
Facebook Live
11:15 a.m.

Where light begins to fade, life still thrives in the deep ocean. Take a trip to the darker depths of the Gulf of Mexico with Discovery Hall Programs' marine educators Rachel McDonald and Greg Graeber to find out what animals live in the deep and how researchers learn about these organisms with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). 

Tuesday, April 6

Beach, Dune, and Maritime Forest Excursion
Register
9:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

There’s more to a barrier island than sand and water – the beach is a thriving habitat with a dynamic dune system and fascinating plants and animals, and higher elevations are covered by lush forest. We’ll walk through the maritime forest, then on to the dunes and beach. You will learn about plants that Indians and colonists used and the benefits of an intact dune system. You’ll see many coastal animals; occasional highlights include osprey, alligators, and dolphins. You’ll dig for mole crabs that live in the surf zone and chase scuttling ghost crabs. We’ll bring hand nets and critter containers so we can get an up-close look.

What to wear:  Comfortable walking shoes for the beach and forest. Light-weight clothes for hot summer temperatures. If you’re eager to get wet, feel free to dress accordingly, though getting wet can be avoided.  

What to bring:  hat, sunscreen, water bottle, bug spray, change of clothes and shoes, bag for wet items

Ask the Aquarist - Stingrays
Facebook Live
11:15 a.m.

Wednesday, April 7

Boardwalk Talk - Dr. John Dindo
Facebook Live 
11:15 a.m.

The Boardwalk Talk series is a free, public program on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. These talks give you a chance to participate in a dialog with the experts, including researchers, graduate students, post-docs, educators, aquarists, and technicians. These informal chats encompass a broad range of science topics.

Dr. John Dindo plans to take you virtually to Gaillard Island in the middle of Mobile Bay. An island created from dredge spoils is now a thriving pelican community.

Check out our Boardwalk Talk library on the Dauphin Island Sea Lab YouTube channel.

Thursday, April 8

Salt Marsh Excursion
Register
9:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Salt marshes are not monotonous expanses of grass; they’re fascinating coastal wetlands that are critical to our estuary system. Be a marine scientist for a day, and use seine nets, buckets, shovels, and sieve boxes to collect samples, including crabs, snails, and fish (we’ll release animals back to the marsh). You’ll learn about the important role salt marshes play in the Gulf of Mexico and how they support the seafood we enjoy.

What to wear:  Proper footwear is very important for your safety and enjoyment. Because of sharp oyster shells, participants are advised to wear closed-toe shoes that tie or strap on, such as old tennis shoes. Please no flip-flops, Crocs, or rubber boots as they get ‘eaten’ by the marsh mud. Wear clothes that can get wet and muddy. 

What to bring:  hat, sunscreen, water bottle, change of clothes and shoes, bag for muddy items

Ask the Aquarist - Alligators
Facebook Live
11:15 a.m.

Kayak Excursion (limited to 20 participants)
Register
2 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Get a 360-degree view of the salt marsh during this kayak excursion. The salt marsh is an important wetland habitat associated with an estuary. Educators already take students to the water’s edge to learn about the plants and animals associated with a salt marsh. Now, with the kayaks, students will be able to broaden their picture of the salt marsh ecology. All of the marine educators are certified through the American Canoe Association.

This kayaking trip is for families, including children 8 years and older, and other interested individuals. 

Friday, April 9

Science Friday: Ocean Animal Biology
Register
Limited to 25 participants per class. All classes meet under Horizon classroom on the south side of campus.) 

Gulf Coast Marine Animals – 9:30-11:30 am
Join us for an entertaining and informative introduction to a variety of marine species from the coast of Alabama and the Gulf of Mexico. After introducing local species of invertebrate and vertebrate animals such as the sponge, jellyfish, sea star, clam, snail, crab, shark, fish, octopus, and more, participants will be able to touch, hold, and examine specimens. This curiosity-generating activity will have participants learning about the animals’ adaptations, life cycles, and basic marine ecology.  

Suitable for all ages.

The Microscopic World of Plankton – 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Join us for an exciting look at some of the smallest and most amazing creatures on the planet - plankton. The word plankton comes from the Greek word “planktos” meaning to wander. The more we learn about the ocean, the more we realize how incredibly important plankton are. They are the base of many ocean food chains and they are responsible for much of the oxygen in our atmosphere, but they do have their dark side.  Come practice your collecting and microscope skills as we explore the world of plankton. 

Suitable for ages 10 and up, or for all ages with an accompanying adult. 

Wetland Ecology: The Salt Marsh – 3:00-5:00
Come explore with us and learn about an essential and fascinating local habitat - the salt marsh. During our exploration, we’ll discuss the critical role of wetland ecosystems, we’ll investigate the plants and animals found in this stressful habitat, and get firsthand experience examining its food web. After a brief chat setting the stage, we’ll head to the marsh on our science bus and explorers will have the opportunity to 'sink into their explorations’ by dragging seine nets, sieving mud, scooping up animals, and becoming up close and personal with marsh grasses. 

What to wear and bring: old clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and muddy, sneakers that lace tightly for walking in the mud, (no flip-flops, Crocs, Tevas, etc.), a hat to shade the sun while outside, sunscreen, a water bottle and your sense of adventure! 

Suitable for ages 10 and up, or for all ages with an accompanying adult. 

University Programs Seminar
Zoom Seminar 
12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Seminars set up by University Programs faculty cover a variety of topics throughout the year. Students on and off campus are invited to attend to learn more about what is happening in the marine science community. Topics include oysters, restoration, hypoxia, and more. The majority of seminars are streamed live and archived to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab YouTube channel.

Lauren Clance presents Characterizing site and group fidelity of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Mobile Bay, Alabama, and adjacent Gulf of Mexico waters using photo identification and elemental analyses.

Debbrota Mallick presents The geochemical and isotopic behaviors of chromium in estuary environments.

Saturday, April 10

Discover in the Aquarium (Indoor events canceled due to delayed power and internet related to overnight storm)
Purchase Tickets
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Take a journey through our public aquarium and chat with our marine scientists, students, and educators as they share their research and fun facts you may not know about the Alabama Watershed and the northern Gulf of Mexico. 

R/V Alabama Discovery Excursion
Register
12:45 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Join a professional Dauphin Island Sea Lab Educator for a two-hour boat trip in the waters surrounding Dauphin Island, where you’ll learn how estuaries such as Mobile Bay feed the seas. Mobile Bay is a thriving nursery ground that supports a vast array of animals. A short trawl will produce a sampling of some of these animals for you to examine, and a plankton tow will give you a look at the microscopic organisms at the base of the food chain. Other kinds of wildlife, including pelicans, gulls, dolphins, and sharks, can often be seen from the boat.  
The minimum age for participation is 8. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Tickets: $30 per person. Space is limited, and reservations are required. Please note that your reservation will not be secure until you purchase your tickets through a link you will receive after submitting the reservation form. This program is limited to 25 participants (based on Covid distancing guidelines, and subject to change). A minimum number of tickets must sell before the scheduled Boat Excursion for the trip to run.

Children 18 and under must be accompanied by an adult who is responsible for their supervision and safety. 

What to wear: Proper footwear is required for your safety. Wear closed-toe, closed-heel shoes. Please note that you will not be allowed to board the vessel without proper footwear. Layers are advised for variable weather conditions.
 
What to bring: Hat, sunscreen, water bottle, binoculars, snack, camera, your curiosity, and your mask

Purchase Tickets

Aquarium and excursion tickets must be purchased online. Aquarium hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Excursion tickets are not included in the aquarium admission.

Aquarium Admission

  • $12/Adult
  • $10/Seniors (50+)
  • $6/Students
  • $6/Children 5-18
  • Free/Under 5

Excursions - Pre-registration is required

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