New aquarium on the Gulf Coast

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sea life is a staple in Southern Mississippi. Driving through the south end of our state almost always entails crossing a body of water.

Though we might not see them, a variety of creatures live in and around those bodies of water.

So when Gulfport announced plans to break ground on a state aquarium this summer, it can be viewed as a natural addition to the state’s current wildlife studies.

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Though the newest aquatic addition to the Gulf Coast won’t open until 2019, once those doors open the facility will celebrate Mississippi’s ecosystem and provide an educational resource statewide.

According to the facility’s website, the aquarium will be built on 5.8 acres of gulf front land with over 80,000 square feet of exhibits.

In the future, the aquarium will provide copious opportunities for education and research that will help move Mississippi forward in this area of study.

The project was funded in part by a $17 million contribution made by Gov. Phil Bryant from the BP reward fund.

Reports from the facility say it is expected to be self-supporting once open. If that’s true, it’s an even greater benefit to the state economy.

With a $93 million budget, it can’t afford any overages. Some reports say it could survive with 350,000 visitors every year.

Considering the number of school trips, vacationers and hot summer days, reaching that quota shouldn’t be difficult.

With other cities like Mobile and New Orleans looking to add attractions, a stop between the two could help spur development along the entire Gulf Coast.

Gulfport isn’t in Pearl River County, but development in one area of the state is beneficial for the state as a whole.