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March/April 2015 Issue

Dive into the Great Maya Reef in New Orleans aquarium exhibit

The rich and diverse aquatic life found in Central America’s Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system–also known as the Great Maya Reef–can be explored on land, on water, and underwater in a completely redesigned exhibit at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, La.

The 4,200-square-foot Great Maya Reef exhibit transforms the aquarium into a great, submerged Maya city of the Yucatan peninsula. The adventure begins as visitors walk through the 30-foot-long tunnel into a submerged Maya city of mysterious ruins surrounded by exotic sea creatures.

As visitors explore the mysterious ruins of a submerged Maya city, they’ll be surrounded by lionfish, yellowtail snapper, moray eels, spiny lobsters, and more. Guests engage with immersive exhibits including aquatic activity after dark, an artificial reef, and an encounter with a moray eel.

The more adventurous can explore from inside the exhibit with the Maya Dive Experience, which gives divers an up-close view of the colorful fish of the Great Maya Reef and a taste of the second largest barrier reef in the world without flying to Central America. They can dive below or snorkel above swirling schools of yellowtail snapper and French grunts all while getting wet and waving to their friends and family from inside the 130,000-gallon exhibit.

The dive program is offered on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Wet suits and dive gear are provided; each experience is limited to four participants. The cost to snorkel is $175; the cost to scuba is $250 and participants must be certified.

Located at #1 Canal Street in downtown New Orleans where Canal Street meets the Mississippi River, the aquarium is open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $23.95 for adults, $18.95 for seniors, and $17.95 for children 2–12. Ticket discounts are offered to AAA members when you show your card.

Call (504) 565-3033 for more details, or visit


The new Great Maya Reef exhibition offers visitors an underwater view of the Central American reef system. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas photos



Renewed Arkansas museum sparks interest in science

Astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said that we live in a society that is exquisitely dependent on science and technology, yet hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.

For 35 years, though, the Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs, Ark., has been striving to make sure people understand science, and now after an $8 million renovation, that mission has never been more clear. The renewed museum, opening on March 7, will offer stronger connections between science and museum visitors’ everyday lives.

The museum closed late last summer for renovations inside and out to enhance understanding of the wonders of energy, matter, biology, physics, math, and more. Some of the more iconic experiences now include The Oaklawn Foundation Digital Dome Theater, which will immerse viewers in a variety of subjects by showing films on a 180-degree screen. Visitors also can investigate science found in nature on the new Bob Wheeler Science Skywalk, which extends into the forest canopy. A tree house pavilion, rope netting, and hands-on activities add to the adventure.

Other highlights include a crawl-through cave, two-story interactive water tower, and a 10-foot-tall climbing structure.

Located at 500 Mid America Blvd., the museum is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, hours are 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday–Saturday and 1–6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and children 3–12.

Call (501) 767-3461 or visit for more information.


The Bob Wheeler Science Skywalk at the museum. Mid-America Science Museum photo



Rendezvous recalls life on the frontier

Instead of iPhones, laptops, and car keys, the everyday accoutrements of life in Arkansas once included beaver traps, black-powder rifles, and walking sticks.

To get a glimpse of what that life was like, the 1800s Mountain Man Rendezvous on April 17–19 at Woolly Hollow State Park in Greenbrier will showcase the rugged life of explorers and trappers when Arkansas was on the edge of the American frontier. Many of the activities will take place around Woolly Cabin, a one-room log home that dates to 1882 and was moved to the park less than a mile from where it was first built.

During the weekend, re-enactors will dress in period attire and camp in authentic lodges and tents. The sights, sounds, and smells of the 1800s will surround visitors as they walk through the encampment.

Demonstrations will include the crafts and survival skills needed during the era of the fur trappers. Visitors are encouraged to talk with the living historians to find out how people lived about 150 years ago.

Festivities will take place from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. each day at the park, which is located about 45 miles north of Little Rock at 82 Woolly Hollow Road.



Gulf Coast art festival brims with beauty

With a setting worthy to be captured on canvas, the 18th Annual Art in the Pass will feature beautiful fine arts, crafts, music, food, and more this spring along the sparkling waters of the Gulf Coast in Pass Christian, Miss.

More than 100 artists from 15 states will participate in the two-day juried festival on April 11–12 showcasing works in a variety of media including painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, pottery, and more. The event takes place from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. each day in scenic War Memorial Park overlooking the Gulf in Pass Christian.

The artists’ booths will be scattered around the park, under the trees, and along the paths. Live music will add to the fun of the festival, which is free to attend.

Also, the Marine Cuisine Pavilion on the northeast side of the park will promote the culinary arts with free cooking demonstrations by local and regional chefs using fresh Gulf seafood both days.

The Celebrate the Gulf Marine Education Festival will be held concurrently with Art in the Pass on Saturday from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. The free event will feature lively hands-on activities–including a touch tank–that focus on marine environmental issues.

War Memorial Park is located between Fleitas and Davis avenues on Scenic Drive in Pass Christian.

For more details, click on


More than 100 artists will display their creations at the festival. Art in the Pass photo


Black Bear Fest is a roaring good time

The ursus americanus luteolus has a big name, and the Louisiana black bear, as it is more commonly known, has an equally big festival to celebrate it.

The 12th Annual Bayou Teche Black Bear Festival in Franklin, La., on April 17–19 will raise awareness of the species, which is listed as “threatened” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That mission will be carried out in typical Louisiana flair–with food, fun, and music, but also through field trips and educational exhibits.

The three-day event features an arts and crafts section, food court, obstacle course, fireworks, a 5K race, and guided boat tours of the Bayou Teche Wildlife Refuge. There will also be displays about bears and the area’s natural and cultural heritage. Children’s activities in the Cub Club Arena will include storytelling, shows, music, games, and a “clinic” for stuffed animal repairs.

Held in conjunction with the festival is the Bayou Teche Wooden Boat Show, which will showcase antique and modern watercraft.

For more details, visit

boat show

The festival includes tours of the Bayou Teche Wildlife Refuge. Cajun Coast Visitors & Convention Bureau photo

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