The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, FL is home to 20,000 specimens. Many of the tanks are open and touching some of the residents is strongly encouraged.
The main floor if dominated by a large glass tank full of stingrays and sharks. The staff encourages “petting” — but only with two fingers.
The movement of stingrays was mesmerizing: supple bodies gliding like lanky hands waving through water. Skin was glossy — felt like wet watermelon. As if on cue these beautiful fish slid their wings up the side of the tank and out of the water. Spectators were coaxed by their movement to reach in the tank and touch them.
Did stingrays seek attention; enjoy the sense of touch or were their actions the result of conditioned behavior. It’s likely the answer was all of the above. Nevermind, any hesitation on a visitor’s part was short-lived:
Venturing upstairs we entered the Mangrove Forest — tanks of water filled with swamp flora and fauna:
The other “WOW” exhibit focuses on jellyfish: phosphorant creatures that looks like neon lights glowing in the dark and moon medusa jellyfish that move like invertebrate mushrooms. Time is fleeting when gazing at these wonders of the sea:
Of course no aquarium visit can be completed without a shark(s) sighting. The Florida Aquarium has ferocious tiger sharks. For those with strong constitutions each day patrons can pay $125.00 to climb into the aquarium to feed the sharks. They reside in the “Coral Reef” section of the aquarium:
For anyone with a hole burning in their pocket cruises are also offered by the aquarium: few hours on Tampa Bay allows folks to view porpoises, and other aquatic life living outside the confines of aquarium.