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Published: February 9th 2010
I haven’t been to the Florida Aquarium since soon after it first opened back in 1995, but as far as I can tell, it hasn’t changed much. It’s still nestled along the banks of the Ybor Channel near the Tampa Port Authority off Channelside Drive in downtown Tampa, and it still has two main exhibits: the Wetlands, housed within a giant, curved-glass atrium visible from the street and the water, and the Coral Reef, which twists through an underground-like tunnel of glass and faux stone.
I’m more of a zoo-person myself, so I don’t visit too many aquariums and, thus, don’t have much to which I can compare Tampa’s attraction. But the Florida Aquarium has many fans to support it; for example, it’s been voted in the top 5 “Kid-Friendly Aquariums” by Parent’s Magazine and was the winner of “Tampa’s Best Tourist Spot” by Nickelodeon’s Parent’s Picks Award.
This isn’t my best blog when it comes to photos, but I’m still struggling with getting my Cannon to work for me in dark places and the camera also decided to suddenly run out of battery life a little over halfway through our trip. I wasn’t too happy about that, but
I found a few decent photos to post here, so hopefully it gives you some idea of what to expect from a visit.
It was a pretty nice day, in the low 60s even though most of the north was covered in snow. It was a tad windy, but we were inside most of the time. We spent a little time on the outside playground watching our friends’ kids run around (which was a pretty neat playground, though I didn’t get any photos because of the aforementioned reason…) but much of it was blocked off for renovations.
The Aquarium claims to have a 1,000,000 gallon tank and exhibits containing 4,000 types of mammals, 28,000 kinds of fish, and 800,000 varieties of insects. So there’s much to see, as well as invertebrate Touchtanks filled with Sea Stars, Urchins, Mollusks and the like in the No Bone Zone, a Penguin Promenade where a pair of African Black-footed penguins are introduced to guests in an up close and personal show, and a Dive with the Sharks program where any certified scuba diver over fifteen can spend 30 minutes swimming with sharks and sea turtles in a 93,000 gallon tank while museum
There are other exhibits, a restaurant and gift shop, but it still seems that the aquarium is rarely an all-day adventure, at least for adults. We did enjoy our visit, so once we have kids we’ll probably get season passes, but for now I’m more likely to spend my money visiting place that have much larger mammals which, as I’ve said, is more my style.
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