Along with soaking up sun on Tampa’s beautiful beaches and catching glimpses of the wild marine life, groups can visit the Florida Aquarium and experience its unique creatures up close.
“(We’re) a not-for-profit attraction devoted to entertaining, educating, and inspiring visitors to be advocates for marine life conservation,” says sales manager Aimie Johnson. “Located between two cruise terminals and along the historical streetcar route that connects downtown Tampa and Ybor City, the aquarium offers animal encounters and educational programs.
Johnson says some of the best experiences are included with general admission:
Named after moon jellyfish, this exhibit is a 1,200-gallon habitat with two pools where visitors can touch the jellies. An acrylic sphere full of moon jellies and a digitally mapped projection show impactful imagery of the natural environment.
The Wetlands Trail
This exhibit reflects Florida’s unique environment and houses alligators, river otters, the invasive Burmese python, and a large aviary. Visitors can see feedings of the pink spoonbill and other animals and learn more about wildlife during scheduled presentations at the Ranger Station.
Coral Reef and Waves of Wonder
The awe-inspiring 500,000-gallon habitat features some of the aquarium’s largest residents, including sharks, rays, sea turtles, reef fish, and moray eels. In the adjacent Waves of Wonder gallery and Heart of the Sea exhibit, guests can learn about the aquarium’s important conservation efforts, which range from growing vital coral and transplanting them in the Florida Keys to rescuing and rehabilitating sea turtles at its Center for Conservation.
Johnson says some of the activities available for additional fees include dives with sharks, swims in the Heart of the Sea, backstage experiences, and behind-the-scenes tours.
Top photo by The Florida Aquarium