Going Coastal

The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge

The J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico. The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. It is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations. The J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge is part of the United States National Wildlife Refuge System and is named for the cartoonist Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling. The refuge was created to safeguard and enhance the pristine wildlife habitat of Sanibel Island, to protect endangered and threatened species and to provide feeding, nesting, and roosting areas for migratory birds. Today, the refuge provides important habitat to over 245 species of birds.

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park, Tropical Wilderness Protecting a Fragile Ecosystem


Everglades National Park covers over 1,500,000 acres in three southern counties in Florida, visited by nearly 1,000,000 visitors annually. The Everglades are a network of wetlands and forests fed by a river flowing .25 miles per day out of Lake Okeechobee, southwest into Florida Bay. The Park is the most significant breeding ground for tropical wading birds in North America and contains the largest mangrove ecosystem in the western hemisphere. It is home to 36 threatened or protected species including the Florida panther, the American crocodile and the West Indian manatee. The Everglades supports 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals, and 50 species of reptiles. The majority of South Florida's fresh water, which is stored in the Biscayne Aquifer is recharged in the park.

Texas State Aquarium

Texas State Aquarium, Up Close with The Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea


The Texas State Aquarium engages people with animals, inspires appreciation for nearby seas (focusing on the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea) and supports wildlife conservation.


Over 50,000 visitors came to the Aquarium in 2016 to welcome the addition of two Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, Liko and Schooner. Recent additions to the Aquarium also include hundreds of new fish, birds and mammals finding a new home in “Caribbean Journey” (new area within the Aquarium).

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, “The Little Zoo That Could”


The 17-acre Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo opened in June 1989 as Zooland Animal Park. The zoo is located just several blocks north of the beach. An additional 13 undeveloped acres was donated by the Ward family and the Erie Meyer Foundation in 1994. The zoo was founded as a private enterprise by Joey Ward of Gulf Shores with wide pathways throughout the park offering close up views of over 300 exotic animals including lions, tigers, bears, primates, leopards, macaws, wolves, and more. Visit the reptile house, petting zoo, and aviary. 

Big Thicket Preserve

Big Thicket Day 2017, Celebrating the Big Thicket National Preserve

Save the Date: Saturday, October 14 for Big Thicket Day.

Big Thicket Day, presented by the Big Thicket National Preserve and the Big Thicket Association. celebrates the efforts of local community members throughout the 1960’s and early 1970’s to preserve and protect the diverse Big Thicket region. Those efforts culminated in the establishment of Big Thicket National Preserve on October 11, 1974.