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“Fun Times!”

Gulf Specimen Marine Lab & Aquarium
Ranked #1 of 4 things to do in Panacea
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Come see and touch Marine life for fun and education. Everything from sponges and algae to seahorses, sharks, and turtles!
Reviewed 6 April 2018

This was our second visit to this little marine lab. We went on a rainy day. They are open from 9-5 every day. This is a cool little place with lots of things for kids to touch. That is what makes this place unique. They have all kinds of touch tanks all over where kids can actually reach in and touch all kinds of cool marine life. We also got to see one of the workers feeding shrimp to the anemones and trying to avoid the eels! We had a 12 year old and two 18 year olds. They were all greatly entertained. It only takes a couple hours to get through it so it's a good half day trip of fun. Nice place!

Date of experience: April 2018
Thank Hyesagmn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"horseshoe crabs"
in 16 reviews
"nurse sharks"
in 14 reviews
"sea life"
in 17 reviews
in 20 reviews
"marine lab"
in 18 reviews
in 20 reviews
"variety of sea creatures"
in 2 reviews
"gift shop"
in 9 reviews
"yearly pass"
in 2 reviews
"answer questions"
in 4 reviews
"great place to learn"
in 2 reviews
"all ages"
in 9 reviews
"learning experience"
in 2 reviews
"young ones"
in 2 reviews
"couple hours"
in 3 reviews
"open to the public"
in 2 reviews
"great for kids"
in 4 reviews

20 - 24 of 153 reviews

Reviewed 30 March 2018 via mobile

Small but varied displays and aquariums. Touch tanks that children especially will enjoy. Create your own tour. Interesting items in small gift shop. New things to learn about Gulf marine life.

Date of experience: March 2018
Thank Jeanie P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 March 2018 via mobile

We signed up for a three hour guided tour, including visiting the aquariums and touch tanks, the collection docks, and seining the marsh. It was a little cold on the docks and marshes, but we still saw quite a few small fish and invertebrates. The tanks were so numerous we didn't quite see in them all-- octopus, cuttlefish, crabs, fish, sea turtles, sea squirts, on and on. Our guide was very knowledgeable and a lot of fun, too. Word of warning-- our family loves looking at nature and creatures. However I think there is enough here to impress people who are not science nerds, as well!

Date of experience: March 2018
3  Thank AnnieB00
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 February 2018 via mobile

Our visit to the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in Panacea was an unexpectedly successful venture. The lab is kind of a special place in that it it is a working facility open to the public for educational purposes more than for one splashy show. The extensive array of shallow “touch tanks” allow the visitor the unique hands on experience of both visual and tactile sensory perception to get to know the tidal and estuarine Marine life that may not otherwise accessible to inexperienced waders.

Getting to intimately know the critters that inhabit the shells that we pick up on the beach or in the estuaries is a true learning experience that will stay with the visitor. For example, anyone who has ever walked the Atlantic Coast beaches of the USA has most likely come across the shell of the Horseshoe Crab. But what did I know about this odd and somewhat scary looking critter that has not evolved in over 450 million years but is vital to the testing of the safety of new drugs? Not much until a visit to the Specimen Lab told its story.

Being a working lab on a tight budget the lab is definitely not a “show aquarium” like it’s more well funded brethren in high-tourist traffic regions. But the lab’s education mission is fulfilled through teaching its 15 to 20 thousand school children visitors annually about the importance of our oceans and estuaries to our very existence on planet Earth.

For the individual with little to no experience in littoral marine habitat biology and zoology the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory and Aquarium is a great place to start. For the more knowledgeable individual it is a place to expand one’s knowledge and understanding of the importance of the marine habitat.

Date of experience: February 2018
4  Thank lzuga
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 20 December 2017 via mobile

So many touch tanks and such a variety of sea creatures! We are Florida transplants from the north, and I just can't get over the access to the animals and the abundance--to catch fiddler crabs, to hold horseshoe crabs, horse conchs, starfish and to see so much more up close and personal. My favorites were the eels and octopuses (you don't get to touch these)!

Awesome for all ages. Also this is more of a research and educational facility rather than a commercial tourist attraction--the founders and operators are renowned marine biologists local to the Gulf Coast. The facility is a refuge and rehab for some of the animals like injured sea turtles. The lab educates and advocates conservation.

Date of experience: December 2017
4  Thank Cathryn M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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