A Plan for Expansion
The Florida Aquarium recently announced a $40-million expansion plan that will include several exciting new experiences; most notably a grand outdoor sea lion habitat. The project, which has three phases, will begin in January of 2023 and is scheduled to be completed in 2025. The project includes the addition of a rotating special exhibit gallery, converting the second-floor lobby into to multi-species gallery that features puffins, and a large-scale outdoor exhibit featuring, first time on the west coast of Florida, California sea lions. A significant African penguin habitat will also be part of the outdoor expansion.
This indoor habitat will transport visitors to the rugged coast and will feature an extraordinary two-level puffin habitat complete with a kelp forest, Atlantic salmon and other larger fish species. Multiple viewing windows measuring over 20’ will allow guests to see the numerous nesting sites and deep dive pool of this 45,000-gallon habitat designed specifically for these beautiful and fun-to-watch birds.
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On a journey that begins in Florida’s shorelines with Stringray Beach, guests are transported to the rugged coast in the newly reimagined second floor mezzanine and culminates with a dramatic two-story puffin habitat. In this new space, guests will engage with as many as a dozen new aquatic habitats – of many shapes and sizes – featuring a diverse collection of animals.
Designed to mimic the rocky shores of the Pacific Northwest and Coastal Africa, the habitat will bring California sea lions to the west coast of Florida for the first time and expand our African penguin habitat. A park-like atmosphere for the plaza will enhance an already exceptional experience.
Three separate but interconnected sea lion spaces, which collectively measure over 200,000 gallons, will include both a large main habitat and animal encounter habitat as well as a presentation space including underwater viewing and overlook seating.
The outdoor plaza will include a 39,500-gallon African penguin habitat which will allow for optimal welfare to a colony of up to 30 penguins. A uniquely placed bubble viewing window will be a highlight for young guests.