Located in the historic French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas teems with a vibrant Caribbean reef and lively underwater animals. The aquarium is part of the Audubon Nature Institute, which also includes a zoo, insectarium and nature center.
Katie Smith, senior director of marketing at Audubon Nature Institute, said penguins, sea otters, cownose rays, moray eels and spiny lobsters are all popular with student groups.
“There’s also Parakeet Pointe, which is an interactive aviary where guests may meet, greet and feed hundreds of free-flying birds,” Smith said.
Students can explore habitats that focus on the Amazon, Great Maya Reef, Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River. Watch for sea turtles throughout the aquarium; as the coordinator of the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program, the aquarium prepares turtles for release to the wild.
An underwater oil rig is located in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit, the largest exhibit in the aquarium, allowing students to examine the aquatic animals that thrive around its barnacle pilings. Students also can encounter sharks, schools of fish and stingrays.
Most education programs at the aquarium are adaptable for any grade level, with shark dissection, frog school classes and live animal encounters being the most popular options among students.
“Students learn ocean ecology, animal adaptations, as well as the critical importance of conservation of our waterways,” Smith said. “Having experienced the ‘wow’ factor of our diverse and breathtakingly beautiful aquatic habitats, students will take away a sense of stewardship of the incredible natural world that we live in. They will therefore be empowered to actively participate in ongoing conservation efforts.”
Teachers and planners are encouraged to schedule group visits at least one week in advance.
For more information, call 800-774-7394 0r visit audubonnatureinstitute.org.