Blog

Weedon Island Preserve: A Wild Wetland Paradise

Until I recently was sidelined by a knee injury, running the trails and boardwalks of Weedon Island Preserve with legendary running guru Joe Burgasser and members of his Forerunners Club was a frequent and favorite Friday morning outing. The runners, of diverse backgrounds, careers and interests, are always interesting. But with or without company, a morning at Weedon always is exhilarating. This natural oasis between Tampa and St. Petersburg offers abundant wildlife, stunning vistas and a... Read More
at Friday, February 2, 2018

A Goliath Comeback

Massive and impassive, the goliath grouper may seem the stereotypical image of a stolid, uncomprehending fish. But appearances are deceiving. “They’re almost as smart as a dog,” says Dr. Ari Fustukjian, The Florida Aquarium associate veterinarian who cares for the facility’s two goliath groupers, Cleatus and Gill. “Long-lived apex predators can be quite intelligent.” The goliaths, the Atlantic’s largest grouper, are astute in responding to... Read More
at Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Gifts To Our Blue Planet

For many of us, holiday shopping is a confusing chore that often results in a gift that soon becomes clutter or trash. But, The Florida Aquarium offers ways to give memorable presents in line with its vision to protect and restore the Blue Planet. The Florida Aquarium’s 2018 Calendar , for instance, contains stunning images of marine creatures for a minimum donation of $20, though higher contributions are obviously welcomed – and needed. All the money raised from the... Read More
at Friday, December 15, 2017

Turning an Environmental Menace into Meaningful Art

You won’t offend Sara Norine if you say her stunning new ocean jelly (more commonly known as jellyfish) artwork above The Florida Aquarium gift shop is trash. Indeed, that is the point of her vivid creation. The fiber artist transformed thousands of feet of “dirty, stinky” monofilament line, collected along local waterways, into the luminous ocean jelly, which is 18 inches in diameter and six feet long. The rendering not only captures the creature’s delicate beauty,... Read More
at Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Manatees, the 'sea cows' of Tampa Bay

The best place in Tampa Bay to see manatees is not some remote wilderness waterway. It is a power plant. For 31 years, Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center at its Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach has attracted hundreds of manatees and thousands of spectators. Indeed, it averages close to 300,000 visitors a year. The reason the manatees show up is simple. When the water temperature drops to 68 degrees, or below, the manatees seek warmer waters – in springs, rivers... Read More
at Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Cockroach Bay Remains a Tampa Bay Gem

Saddled with a repugnant name, Cockroach Bay is one of the most beautiful — and ecologically fertile — stretches of Tampa Bay. It is hard to believe this expanse of mangrove islands and sea grass beds in South Hillsborough County endures within sight of the bustling downtowns of Tampa and St. Petersburg, and a few minutes’ drive from the explosive growth nearby. It was a fishing trip to Cockroach Bay decades ago that inspired my love for Tampa Bay. The series of... Read More
at Wednesday, November 8, 2017

New CEO Brings Exciting and Impactful Vision of Aquarium’s Future

Scarcely on the job for five months, Roger Germann, The Florida Aquarium’s new President and CEO, is still getting to know the operation, the staff and the community. But he is certain about one thing: “We’re not making little plans here,” Germann said of The Florida Aquarium in a recent interview. “We want to be a big player, not just on the local and state level, but on the national and international stage.” The “little plans” is a reference... Read More
at Monday, October 30, 2017

Aquarium Working to Reduce Plastics Use

You won’t find a plastic straw in your drink at The Florida Aquarium’s Café Ray or be handed a plastic bag when you check out of its gift shop. This isn’t feel-good environmentalism. The measures are part of a comprehensive Aquarium plan to combat a staggeringly pervasive pollutant – plastics – which poses a particular threat to the ocean.   “Plastics never truly go away,” says Debbi Stone, the Aquarium’s vice president of... Read More
at Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Preparation Key to The Florida Aquarium’s Response to Hurricanes

Scarcely a day after monstrous Hurricane Irma terrified Florida, demolishing sections of the state and leaving most residents without power, The Florida Aquarium opened its doors to the public. Guests line up to enter The Florida Aquarium on Tuesday, Sept. 12 after Hurricane Irma. Revenue concerns did not motivate the drive to get back to business. Prices were dropped to $10 for adults and $5 for children, and parking was free for Tampa Strong Days following the storm. Once Irma... Read More
at Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Florida Birding and Nature Festival to Celebrate Conservation Triumphs

Given the doom and gloom of so much recent environmental news, it may seem strange the upcoming Florida Birding and Nature Festival will be a celebration. Festival organizer Ann Paul, regional coordinator for Audubon Florida, understands better than most the challenges to be faced. However, she also appreciates how much progress, often overlooked, has been made. So, the October 13-15 festival will remind people that the results of conservation triumphs surround us. Photo: Ann Paul... Read More
at Thursday, August 31, 2017

Fueled by a Love of Nature, Quinn Uses Art to Teach and Inspire About Conservation

At an age when most people still are trying to launch their careers, Kelly Quinn is ecstatic she’s managed to obtain a position that allows her to pursue her two passions: art and nature. The 22-year-old is The Florida Aquarium’s Artist in Residence. “It is so inspiring to be working at a place where everyone is dedicated to wildlife and conservation,” Quinn says. “What they do here aligns so perfectly with my personal mission to try to connect people to... Read More
at Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Volunteers and The Florida Aquarium Share a Special Relationship

This is Volunteer Appreciation Week, which The Florida Aquarium has good cause to celebrate. Manager of Volunteer Services Chelsea Gomez says the 266 active volunteers “interact with guests, care for animals, dive in the exhibits” and are “involved in every single area in The Aquarium.” Perhaps it is a stretch to say the Aquarium, which employs about 220 full and part-time workers, could not function without volunteers, but as Gomez says, “the volunteers make... Read More
Posted by Brian Gallaher at Tuesday, May 2, 2017