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The Florida Aquarium in Tampa: Lot’s of Fun and Educational too!
By Janice McSherry
When vacation time comes, most kids like to put away their books and forget about school until September comes around again, but that doesn’t mean that learning has to stop. If you take your family to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa everyone will have a great time while getting a fascinating understanding of the creatures that live in our planet’s oceans.
The Florida Aquarium is a 200,000 square foot facility that includes a family friendly outdoor water park designed specifically for young children, a coral reef tank where children six or over can swim with the fishes, unique up-close encounter with penguins and other activities that are sure to entertain everyone in your family.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular features of the aquarium. The facility can be divided into its galleries, exhibits and its activities. The galleries include various ecological niches such as wetlands, bays and beaches, coral reefs and the “ocean commotion”.
In the Wetlands gallery birds soar overhead, turtles bask in the sun and fish dart through the water. You can see otters, alligators, crocodile, spoonbills, stingrays, and sharks in this part of the aquarium, and you can watch more than 30 species of free flying birds including great egret, roseate spoonbills, blue herons and white ibis.
The Bays and Beaches gallery features a video on sea turtle nesting while kids climb on sea turtle replicas and crawl into a sea turtle egg! The daily stingray feedings are a big hit in the beaches exhibit.
The Coral Reef Gallery provides an in-depth look at one of the earth’s most important eco-systems. The gallery simulates a 60-foot dive starting in shallow-water reefs and descending to deeper waters. Each viewing window presents a micro habitat which changes as the depth increases.
The newest gallery is Ocean Common which is a multi-media special effects celebration of the beauty and power of the oceans of the world.
If you want to have a face-to-face or rather a face-to-beak encounter with a penguin, then be sure to be on hand for the penguin promenade when the penguins come out for a meet and greet.
Another popular activity at the aquarium is the swim with fishes. The Aquarium’s website explains it as follows: “Swim with the Fishes introduces you to the world of SCUBA diving in a controlled environment with crystal clear waters without ever having to step onto a boat.” Participants in this activity are able to view 2300 different aquatic species. Children must be six or over, and there is a special fee and reservation requirement as well
Here are some tips for visiting the aquarium. The busiest times are on the weekends, during the holiday season and during the summer. If you visit on a Saturday or Sunday, arrive early (between 9:30 am and 10:30 am) during the week, arrive after noon to get the best opportunity to see everything.
The Aquarium is located in Tampa’s Channelside district. Channelside has every kind of entertainment from an IMAX Theatre, dance clubs, piano bar, and shops and restaurants. You can also take a stroll on the waterfront and watch the Port of Tampa at work, watch a hockey game, drop in on a concert or just enjoy a quiet dinner.
The address is 701 Channelside Drive, the phone number is 813-273-4000, and the opening hours are 9:30 am to 5:00pm daily (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas days).
Janice McSherry writes frequently on Orlando tourism. She is the proprietor of Florida Vacation Villas. While visiting Orlando you can get excellent deals on Orlando Vacation Homes and Villa Rentals. This article may be republished on other websites provided that this paragraph is published along with the article