A fully equipped marine laboratory, Dauphin Island Sea Lab provides marine science programs for students and visitors of all ages in an effort to propagate knowledge of marine science and help protect local ecosystems. Dedicated to education, it runs K–12 teacher education programs on the oceans and marine environments to help get these subjects into the classroom. Its summer college programs and graduate programs offer opportunities for further study in oceanography and coastal ecology. The Sea Lab also works to maintain coastal wetlands and resources, conducts research on the Mobile Bay watershed and shore waters, and maintains the Gulf of Mexico Science Journal.
In addition to its scientific work, the Sea Lab runs a public aquarium, the Estuarium, which depicts local marine habitats including the Gulf of Mexico, a drowned river valley, and a living salt marsh. These exhibits contain a variety of native plants and wildlife such as marsh grasses, recreations of cypress swamps, and an American alligator, and at the Estuarium, children can touch live fish.
The USS Alabama spent 37 months in active duty during World War II. It earned nine battle stars and never suffered significant damage from enemy fire. Following this illustrious military career, the battleship was set to be scrapped because of the prohibitive cost of maintaining a wartime fleet. Efforts to save the battleship became the catalyst for corporations to help fund the balance and attain the goal of $1 million, which was used to preserve the battleship as a memorial to the men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. And so the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park was born.
Today, the ship rests safe and sound in the harbor?a 680-foot mammoth whose enormous mass displaces more than 44,500 tons of water.
Resting alongside the ship, the WWII submarine USS Drum welcomes visitors to explore inside its labyrinthine hull, inviting them to climb through hatches and imagine what life would be like if every doorway were round. The memorial park also houses a cavalcade of military equipment, vehicles, and aircraft on display, including a T-55 Iraqi tank, a Cold War?era Lockheed A-12 Blackbird, and a World War II?era Douglas C-47D Skytrain.
The five flags in front of the Cond?-Charlotte Museum House represent Mobile?s tumultuous history under the rule of five countries: France, Spain, Britain, the United States, and the Confederate States. Within the house, visitors can see antique furnishing that correspond to each of these periods in time, with a different theme in each room?for example, the British room holds antiques from 1763?1780, when the British occupied the city. The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in Alabama run the house and operate its tours, which traverse both inside and the outdoor, Spanish-themed garden.
Built in 1857, the Southern Market/Old City Hall building served as home to three groups: the mayor and his city council meetings, several local militias, and a food market. Since then, the Italianate building has been deemed a national landmark, and its tenants have been whittled down to one: History Museum of Mobile. With its permanent exhibitions, the museum preserves more than 300 years of Mobile history, starting with the city's first Native American inhabitants. Interactive exhibits and artifacts—including antique silver and a cannon recovered from the CSS Alabama, which sunk during an 1864 battle—usher guests all the way to the present day.
Along with its mainstay exhibitions, the museum hosts events dedicated to film screenings, lectures, and debunking myths purported by Magic 8 Balls. History Museum of Mobile team has also helped open two other historical sites in town, including the Phoenix Fire Museum, which houses horse-drawn steam engines.
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is no ordinary repository of fish and aquatic mammals. Since its founding in the early 1950s by marine researcher J.B. "Brandy" Siebenaler and scientists at the University of Miami, the park has become a place where guests engage with creatures from around the world's waterways. As they explore the grounds, guests might see penguins and otters romping in chilly waters, spy an alligator basking patiently in the sun, or have up close and personal encounters with dolphins and stingrays. In addition to facilitating fun, the park is also dedicated to education; members of the park's animal care team host chats and shows throughout the day.
For an inside look, check out this behind the scenes video tour.
Emerald Coast Science Center has 8,000 square feet of gallery space filled with eye-opening, family-friendly exhibits on principles of biology, physics, earth science, and technology. In the robotics exhibit, eight interactive stations teach kids about the use of robotics in underwater and space exploration, cybernetics, and medicine. At Color & Light, you can interact with mirrors, colorful lights, and a domesticated rainbow. And in the Critters room, kids get to meet such museum residents as Tickles the Snake and Rosy the Tarantula.