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We made a trip to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa yesterday, we had not been there before and wanted to check it out before we left Florida. For us it was about a 90 mile drive (just short of two hours. If you are in the area of the Disney Attractions it is about a 70 mile drive. Sixty of that being a straight shot on I-4. If you are ever visiting the Orlando area, have a car, and want something different to do, I think it is worth a day. While we love Sea World, this experience was a totally different one! It is open from 9:30-5pm daily, and they suggest going after noon (I think due to all of the school children there earlier in the day, it was very quiet after about 12:30!) Parking was $6.00 (they take debit/credit cards, which I was thankful for as I had forgotten to get cash). Parking is a short walk from the entrance.
We arrived a little after noon. We spent about an hour exploring the 2nd and 3rd floors of exhibits of many different types of fish and wildlife. We then headed out to the dock for the best part of the day, the Wild Dolphin Eco-Tour, which we added to our ticket. This was a 90 minute boat “tour” of Tampa Bay. The bay is home to more than 500 bottlenose dolphins and is one of the best places in Florida to view endangered manatees and numerous species of birds, many of which are threatened or endangered. All of this wildlife thrives in a working, deepwater port, one of the busiest in the Southern United States.
While we did not see any manatees (that is rare because they don’t surface to breath in the same way that dolphins do) we did quite a few dolphins, and many species of birds. It was an enjoyable way to spend 90 minutes. The tour guide shared history of the port, and some interesting facts about the homes and businesses that line the bay, as well as educating us on the birds that inhabit the area, the dolphins and the work that has been done in the bay to improve the environment. It is a joint effort between the aquarium and the Tampa Bay Port Authority, with the help of many volunteers The staff on the boat were very friendly and informative.
We have planned on spending the last hour or so after the tour exploring the rest of the aquarium, but we were both ready to go at that point, so we did miss some of the exhibits. We did meet this little guy visiting in the lobby!
We got out and in the car just in time as a thunderstorm was approaching. We could see lightening from the boat. We drove home through some pretty hard rain, but we need the rain, so no complaints from me.
If we were going to be in Florida more than 3 weeks, we would definitely visit again.. but already, we have too much we want to do with too little time!
I’m going to share a few photos for Watery Wednesday this week!
While we did see dolphins, none of them gave us dramatic jumps out of the water. We saw lots of fins and tails!