Mississippi Aquarium opened Saturday
After years of anticipation, the Mississippi Aquarium opened its doors Saturday to the public for the first time ever.
Saturday, the public was finally able to venture inside the long-awaited Mississippi Aquarium and have a proper housewarming for the new aquatic residents on the Coast. Mississippi Aquarium CEO Kurt Allen said, “It’s a great day for the Gulf Coast, the state of Mississippi and we’re just so excited to show off what we’ve been doing for the last almost three years.”
Although the Mississippi Aquarium has been under construction for three years, the idea for the attraction was born nearly ten years ago and only five years after Hurricane Katrina battered the Mississippi coastline. “And, you know, the revitalization in 15 years, all the way from Waveland to Pascagoula has been phenomenal and we’re just another cherry on top and there’s just so many good things and we’re just proud to be here.”
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said, “Well I think it just epitomizes how far we’ve come. I’m reminded of a statement then Governor Hayley Barbour made a couple of weeks after Katrina. He said if we rebuild the Coast exactly the same way it was before, then we would have failed. And what this epitomizes today is that we took a place that was extremely special and we’re making it even better every single day.”
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic pushing back the first grand opening, originally scheduled for April, and the two storms forecast to arrive the week before the rescheduled grand opening, the only animals that didn’t make it to Saturday’s celebrations were the dolphins. However, the dolphins are expected to arrive within a month. Allen said, “It really was a crunch in the last few weeks to get it done, but it was the dedication of the staff and the construction company to really get it done and we pulled through.”
The Mississippi Aquarium holds one million gallons of both fresh and salt water, sits on 5.8 acres of land, and contains over 80,000 square feet of exhibits for species from water, air, and land. VP of Veterinary Services Alexa Delaune said, “My favorite exhibit here is definitely the ocean tank with all the fish and the sea turtle and the sting rays and sharks.”
“I think the main aquarium exhibit is phenomenal. Everybody loves the river. The river is spectacular. Our collection of birds is like no other. The crocodiles are amazing.”
“The turtles are awesome. Everybody loves a turtle,” said Governor Reeves.
Delaune says the animals aren’t just fun to look at, they’re also serving another purpose. “And they’re going to serve as spokes-animals for all the animals out in the ocean. People can learn. We’re going to do really important research and contribute to the overall knowledge of aquatic animals.”
The Mississippi Aquarium is now open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Each ticket comes with a designated 30 minute window for entry.