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Community Conservation

Community Conservation

Community Conservation influences human behavior in the reduce, reuse, and recycle mindset, bring awareness of how human activities can affect the environment, engage visitors and the public with animal programming, provide sustainability education, and demonstrate best practices to inspire positive change through example.

Community Initiatives We Focus On:

  • Green Sustainability through Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
  • Wildlife Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release
  • Monarch Butterfly Pollinator Garden
  • Oysters Reef
  • Marine Debris
  • Eco Tours

Green Sustainability

Mississippi Aquarium strives to be a green and eco-friendly campus. The Aquarium features restrooms with automatic sinks and toilets to conserve water usage and reduce waste, water bottle fill-up stations conveniently located inside the buildings, benches and trash receptacles made from recycled plastic, and recycle bins for plastic and aluminum. Pelican Pointe Café utilizes biodegradable or recyclable food service supplies and prepares sustainably sourced seafood. The Gulf Ship sells eco-friendly plush and gifts, and plastic bags are not allowed on campus.

Throughout the year, Mississippi Aquarium will partner with local and regional conservation agencies to facilitate the collection of recyclable items such as plastics and Mardi Gras beads.

Wildlife Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Release

Mississippi Aquarium conducts sea turtle rescue, rehabilitation, and release locally and nationally. Each summer, the most endangered sea turtle globally, the Kemp’s ridley, travels via the loop current from its home range in the Gulf of Mexico up the Atlantic coast to New England. Typically, the turtles will migrate south before winter to avoid freezing temperatures which would be fatal to these reptiles. However, some young turtles do not migrate south in time and become stranded in the frigid water. The Aquarium partners with New England Aquarium, USFWS, and NOAA to assist with the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of these turtles back into their home in the Mississippi Sound and Northern Gulf of Mexico.

The Aquarium supports Woodside Wildlife Rescue, a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation group that focuses on the rehabilitation of raccoons, North American river otters, and beavers. The Aquarium provides food, supplies, and labor to support this critical effort so these animals can return to the wild.

Monarch Butterfly Pollinator Garden

Mississippi Aquarium has partnered with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the National Audubon Society to establish a monarch butterfly conservation program on campus. This program includes planting native and pollinator-friendly plants on campus to provide milkweed, nectar, and shelter for monarchs throughout their annual reproductive and migratory cycle. The Aquarium will also serve as a "Monarch Waystation" where monarchs will be briefly collected, recorded, and tagged with a Monarch Watch number as they pass through the Mississippi Gulf Coast, migrating to their wintering grounds in Mexico.

The monarch butterfly population is threatened by habitat loss, and one of the most effective strategies to help them recover is by providing the plants they need to survive. This simple solution can be implemented by anyone, whether they live in urban or rural areas. By providing this information to Aquarium visitors through a visual and interactive experience, they will know how to create their own monarch habitat at home.

The Aquarium has a pollinator garden located on campus next to the Founders' Wall, primarily consisting of native Mississippi perennial wildflowers. There are 36 different species and 72 total plants which provide a source of pollen, nectar, and beauty spring through fall. Native plants have a symbiotic relationship with native wildlife and provide a much more significant benefit in an ecosystem than exotic plants from other parts of the world. Additionally, the use of native plants in the landscape reduces the need for watering, fertilization, and pesticides.

A few of the species found in the Aquarium pollinator garden include:

  • Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)
  • Lantana (Lantana camera)
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)
  • Blanket Flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)
  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
  • Siskiyou Pink (Gaura lindheimeri)
  • Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis)
  • Rosemallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpos)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago)
  • Beebalm Oswego Tea (Monarda didyma)
  • Aromatic Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium)
  • Coneflower (Rudbeckia)
  • Blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum)

Marine Debris

Mississippi Aquarium partners with Mississippi State University Coastal Extension to organize beach and coastal clean-ups. More than simply picking up trash, the marine debris collected is analyzed and studied to understand better human behavior, ocean currents, and damage to wildlife and the environment. By studying these processes, management is better informed about what areas need focus and how to improve the ocean trash and pollution crisis. Expanding Marine Debris education through statewide outreach, Mississippi Aquarium educators can teach how littering and water pollution in all areas of our state affect rivers, the Gulf of Mexico, and beyond.


In collaboration with Ship Island Excursions, Mississippi Aquarium takes guests out onto the Mississippi Sound for a 90-minute Eco Tour aboard the Pan American Clipper. The Mississippi Sound is a body of saltwater that encompasses over 90 miles and over 500 thousand acres. Multiple river systems drain into this dynamic ecosystem from the north, including the Mississippi and Pascagoula Rivers, and seven barrier islands form the southern border. The Sound is a marine nursery utilized by multiple species of fish, sharks, rays, sea turtles, manatees, dolphins, and invertebrates for all or part of their life cycle. Guests on this tour learn how Mississippi Aquarium is working to become a leading marine biology research cooperative where universities, NGOs, and government organizations can work together to save Mississippi's wildlife. The Aquarium is developing and implementing long-term problem-solving projects that assist conservation management with protected species in the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico, including dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and manatees.

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