When most people think of visiting New Orleans, the first thing that comes to mind is Second lines, Beignets and Mardi gras beads. Not only is New Orleans rich in traditional culture, but it is a great place to do a variety of things. If you’re looking to do something that you’ve never done before; after you’ve tried the food of course, give the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas a thought. Conveniently located on one of New Orleans most famous streets, Canal Street, the aquarium is an easy find.The “Maya Snorkel Adventure” is one of many unique attractions the Aquarium has to offer.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by a member of the, “Maya Dive” staff.
My snorkel guide took me to the top floor of the aquarium, where the 4,200 square foot Great reef was located. I received a brief overview of the marine life in the aquarium, as well as the safety guidelines. I finally changed into my wetsuit and snorkel gear, which was provided by the Aquarium.
Yes! I was nervous. The whole time I kept thinking about Steve Irwin. I didn’t want to get stung by a stingray. I told my instructor my fears about snorkeling and she made me feel extremely comfortable about the whole experience. My instructor told me that I had nothing to worry about, because their “stingers” were small. For added comfort, my instructor also informed me that even if I were to get stung, I would be okay, but I wasn’t buying it, because I just flat out did not want to be stung!
I put my face mask on, jumped into the reef, and stuck my head under water. My mind was blown; I was in a whole new world with creatures that I’ve never seen before. Actually, it overwhelmed me. I began to hyperventilate (which is common when snorkeling).
Once I was comfortable in the water my instructor started feeding the fish broccoli. The stingrays started to surround me, and my heart was beating 100 miles per hour. I was surrounded by stingrays! They didn’t care what kind of creature I was, they just wanted the broccoli! It was a humbling experience to not have my, “almighty human-ness” ignored. I kept thinking, “How does this exist? There is a whole world under the ocean that I was totally unaware of!”.
The snorkeling experience went on for two hours, and I was in the Reef for about 45 minutes. Snorkeling was an amazing experience, and it made my love & appreciation grow for New Orleans. If you happen to be in New Orleans, check out the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, it’s a guaranteed great time!