One of the most popular things to do during the warmer months is go splash around in the Mississippi Sound, but due to the recent algal blooms affecting the Coast many beaches are closed.
There are still many things you can do here in South Mississippi like learn about some amazing animals at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport.
The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies is a hidden gem on the Coast. IMMS gives you the chance to get up close and personal with wildlife. Some of the animals you can see are parakeets, stingrays, and sea lions. It’s also the only place in the state where you can swim with dolphins. IMMS Director Dr. Moby Solangi said, “We are the only interactive facility with marine mammals in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee. It is a one of a kind interactive facility.”
News 25 had the chance to swim and interact with the dolphins, but it didn’t stop with swimming. The dolphin performed tricks for everyone in the group. Whether you do an in-water or pool-side experience, it’s a great opportunity to learn about this intelligent mammal first-hand. IMMS Supervisor of Animal Care Lisa Crawford said, “So, today you got to meet Apollo for our dolphin interaction. We got in the water with him. We did lots of touches. We touched pretty much every part of his body, learning about basic dolphin anatomy.”
Swimming with the dolphins is a great and safe activity to do during the summer. “Some people don’t have the opportunity to go and see and touch and feel these animals. So, what we do is we bring nature close to you. We have you in a very safe manner and you can enjoy the water and the animals.”
Not only is swimming with the dolphins fun, the trainer at IMMS hopes by giving the public a better understanding of these animals it will inspire them to help with conservation. “All of the money that goes to our facility actually goes to our rescue and rehabilitation efforts. Like some of the dolphins you met today, he was one of our rescue dolphins so the money is going towards a great cause as well.”
For more information on pricing and how to book visit IMMS.org. If you want to make memories that will last a life time come to IMMS. You have to be eight-years or older to participate in dolphin swimming.