The Dauphin Sea Lab 

The Dauphin Sea Lab is one of the most interesting science museums in the entire state, to help show and teach the public the state’s marine programs.

Also known as the DISL, this marine research and educational center is located in the best spot it could be in the state, Dauphin Island.

Dauphin Island is a barrier inland off the Alabama’s coast, located in the prime of the “Gulf Coast.”  

It has two major functions for its purpose; to do all types of coastal research, and then educate all different levels of people about the ecosystems and their inhabitants.

The Beginnings of The Dauphin Sea Lab

Exhibits at The Dauphin Sea LabExhibits at The Dauphin Sea Lab

The Dauphin Sea Lab was first created in the year 1971, to organize as well as consolidate the state’s marine science education programs.

Started by the Alabama legislature, the decision was made to build it on a very interesting site.

It was built on the former Dauphin Island Annex of the Brookley Air Base, located near the historic Fort Gaines.

Then, in 1972, the state established what is referred to as the Marine Environmental Services Consortium, MESC, to both streamline the services and manage operations.

During this setup, nine different educational institutes in the state were added to help, as well as the U.S. Department of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

However, very shortly after that, it grew to 11 Alabama colleges and universities, and is still growing to this day.

It currently sets on over 36 acres of beautiful coastline and has 39 buildings that are used for numerous things.

This includes laboratories, classrooms, offices, as well as living quarters, for the 160 plus students and facility that both live and work there.

The Continued Growth of The Dauphin Sea Lab

The Dauphin Sea Lab has been growing a lot since its beginning, adding even more research as well as education programs.

In the year 1973 it introduced K-12 education, and then in 1974, it became the Marine Biology Institute with the Sea Lab, and then in 1975 it operated under the name Discovery Hall.

As time passed, from 1978-2009, under Professor John Dindo, several new programs were added.  

In the year 2008, with the help of an educational bond, The Dauphin Sea Lab acquired the 65-foot research vessel the “Alabama Discovery.”

This unique vessel allows for a 44 crew and passengers, to participate in trawls for exploration and research.

In 2007, the DISL also begin to build the Richard Shelby Center, the U.S. State Senator, for Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management.

Completed in the 2009, this 15,000 square-foot award winning building was a first on the coast of Alabama, and to this day, works with numerous state universities and offices like the National Science Foundation.

The Dauphin Sea Lab and its numerous programs have become one of the largest marine-science education programs in the entire country.

It is a wonderful place to teach students of all age’s numerous different things.

These include beach walks for discovery, and “touch labs”, much like petting zoos, on the preserved bodies of a wide variety of sea creatures.

It has gained so much attention as well as credibility over time with its programs, that upper-level students are even gaining college-course level credits for their time spent there.

What The Dauphin Sea Lab Does

Exhibits at The Dauphin Sea LabExhibits at The Dauphin Sea Lab

The Dauphin Sea Lab does much more as well, as they are also involved in both research as well as environmental protection.

They help work with the EPA, through its Clean Water Act of 1987, as well as the Estuaries and Clean Water Act of 2000.

The employees of the DISL are dedicated to marine science, and experts there have written numerous scientific papers about shark populations as well as the rising stingray population.

Marine science students attend their classes, and this allows them to preform laboratory as well as field-based research.

It coordinates very closely with education programs as well as several universities, primarily through its aquarium and marine science museum, the Estuariam. 

The Estuariam Dauphin Sea Lab

The Estuarium at the Dauphin Sea LabThe Estuarium at the Dauphin Sea Lab

The Estuarium is the center piece of the Dauphin Sea Lab, and the formal name is the Alabama Aquarium.

It highlights four key habitats of coastal Alabama, and they include the following.

  • The Mobile Tensaw River Delta
  • Mobile Bay
  • The Barriers Islands
  • The Northern Gulf of Mexico

This exiting center piece also features a 10,000 square-foot exhibition hall, a 7,000-gallon stingray touch pool, as well as a Boardwalk called the “Living Marsh”.

It has a whopping 31 aquariums with more than 100 species on display, but that it still not the end of it.

This magnificent aquarium also showcases many natural resources including plants, animals, as well as other natural resources found in the marine habitats.

Overview of the Dauphin Sea LabOverview of the Dauphin Sea Lab

The Programs at the Dauphin Sea Lab

There are numerous virtual learning programs for you and your family to enjoy here as well, and they include some of the following.

Virtual Classes K-4, 5-8, High Scholl Classes, as well as DHP Videos and Facility.

The one site programs include these activities.

  • Field Classes
  • Sea Lab Science Friday
  • Open Explorer Saturdays
  • Family Camp
  • Sea Star Camps

The summer programs are just as exciting, as they include the following.

  • Residential Marine Science Classes
  • Day Camps
  • Overnight Camps
  • Summer Counselors
  • Summer Internships

But there is still more, as there is STEM programs which focuses on ROV’s and robotics.

There is also the research program, in existence since 1971, in the fields of oceanography and ecology.

This includes Fisheries Ecology, Marine Mammel, NOAA’s Restore Act Science Program, as well as Seminars and Lectures.

If you and your family are interested in these incredible subjects, the Dauphin Sea Lab is the place for you.


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