Connect with the Caribbean

The Texas State Aquarium’s all-new Caribbean Journey offers guests exciting, educational ways to engage with animals and the sea.

Special to Inspire Coastal Bend

Corpus Christi draws visitors from throughout Texas and around the world, and introduces all to the beauty and wonder of the Gulf of Mexico. And now that the 71,000-square-foot Caribbean Journey of the Texas State Aquarium (TSA) is open, Corpus Christi has become a gateway to the Caribbean, as well.

TSA’s interactive exhibits feature fun and learning for the whole family. Whether they’re Corpus Christi locals or vacationers just stopping in, visitors are thrilled to walk through an underwater tunnel as sharks swim by through the 400,000-gallon Caribbean Sea habitat. The brand-new Caribbean Journey offers everything from coral reefs to tropical forests and coastal lagoons, all full of exotic animals representing the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Preserve, a biodiverse region in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

That’s just the beginning. TSA is dedicated to fulfilling their education mission to engage people with animals and the sea while imparting knowledge to visitors. Historic trade routes come alive as animals take over a reproduction Spanish galleon shipwreck. Flamingos roam and a sloth can be spotted as visitors make their journey through the ecosystem. Every interaction with an exhibit fosters learning and connection with the beautiful world of the Caribbean.

Researchers and experts are dedicated to keeping TSA at the cutting edge of their field. They work to not only create the most engaging experience for visitors, but also ensure that the more than 4,000 animals and 390 species onsite have authentic, safe and lush environments where they can thrive – like the Red-Capped Cardinal chicks that recently hatched in a nest built by their parents in their exhibit’s live trees!

These cardinals are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Program (SSP). TSA works with the program to help species in decline regain genetic diversity and regrow populations. Working with SSP is just one piece of TSA’s dedication to wildlife conservation.

In addition to helping threatened species within the aquarium, TSA has a robust wildlife rehabilitation program. TSA’s Second Chances Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital accepts injured and ill wildlife, offering medical care and returning the animals to the wild whenever possible.

This past summer, Second Chances was privileged to facilitate several releases of animals back into their natural habitats. The first, a sea turtle rescued from an entangled fishing line back in May, was released in conjunction with World Oceans Day. The turtle first arrived at the hospital after the tangle left it unable to breath and with a hook embedded in its neck. After treatment and recovery, the turtle was successfully returned to the ocean!

Shortly thereafter, the hospital was able to release six black-bellied whistling ducks back into their natural home in a local wildlife refuge. These ducks came from separate rescues: One group of four ducklings had been separated from their parents without the resources to survive on their own, and the other two had been rescued from a water treatment plant where they could not survive. All six received top-of-the-line medical care before learning to survive on their own in the safe confines of the hospital. As soon as all were able to make it on their own, the group was released back into their natural habitats.

What connects these two recent releases is the quick action of civilians to contact TSA, setting in motion the rescues. TSA is proud to be able to inform people about the sea and animals, as well as to serve as a resource for rescue and rehabilitation.

At TSA, visitors don’t passively walk through remote exhibits. Here, everyone interacts with the exhibits around them, learning lessons about the worlds they are experiencing. It is a true journey that leads to conservation, action and a commitment to protect all marine and wildlife.

Check out TSA and its all-new Caribbean Journey to experience an exciting, educational and memorable adventure through one of North America’s premier aquariums!

For more information, visit www.texasstateaquarium.org.

Photos courtesy of Texas State Aquarium