The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium has everything you would expect a large aquarium to have: fish, sea turtles, fish, sea cucumbers, fish, anemones, fish, spiny lobsters, fish, coral, fish, jellyfish, starfish, crabs, clams, fish, fish, fish, fish, and even fish.
There’s a tank of garden eels where one can watch them pop their heads in and out of their holes. Every time someone approaches the tank they go down, and every time the person walks away they come up. An entire hallway is devoted to pipefish, seahorses, and seadragons. Flash photography is prohibited because the light stresses them out. At least two tanks contain octopi, though they are usually hiding. Another tank has walking batfish. Those are the strangest-looking things ever to walk the seafloor. The aquarium even has a resident grouper weighing over three hundred pounds.
One supersized tank extends past several large windows through which one can see an artificial reef of countless caverns and crevices hiding eels and countless other fish. Rays abound. They slowly swoop upwards against the acrylic window showing off their mouth and gills. Sharks continually circle the tank. Seats are available in some areas to just watch them go by. The movement of fish is relaxing for many people.
The aquarium makes full use of its maze-like space. There are even windows in the floor and ceilings of the hallways allowing views of tanks above and below. It seems they have attempted to create an immersive experience by giving several parts of the building walls resembling coral or cave rocks.
The Florida Aquarium has also introduced petting tanks, featuring starfish, anemones, stingrays, and Indonesian bamboo sharks. Signs give guidance on avoiding their sensitive areas and being gentle.
Sometimes they will even have temporary exhibits of quasi-aquatic and land-dwelling animals, such as lemurs, roaches, ducks, spoonbills, turtles, alligators, or snakes.
701 Channelside Drive, Tampa, Florida
Written by Daniel Noe