Aquarium Times - Florida Aquarium Forum

The Official Unofficial Unauthorized Forum For The Florida Aquarium(TM) Website -

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Come Party With The Fishies!

From All Of Us Here At McGuinnessPublishing To All Of You, We Wish You A Very Happy Thanksgiving!

And Remember Our Scaly Friends This Thanksgiving!

Let Today Be National Don't Eat A Fish Day!

Find Out About The Florida Aquarium's New Year's Bash!


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Moving Exhibit

The Florida Aquarium is adding new displays:

A new display has been set up on the second floor balcony (around the small railing
overlooking the Explore A Shore entrances).

The exhibit: called HEART GALLERY of TAMPA BAY was put together by The Children's Board and other agencies. It features photographs and audio recordings of young children who are looking for adoptive families.

You may have seen the exhibit before - it has been set up in various
malls and other public facilities like ours.

The exhibit will be here from Oct 18th (setting up in afternoon) through November 30th, 2006.

When you visit the Aquarium, you owe it to yourself to take a look!

Dr. Tim


The Best Of Florida!

Congratulations to all of us!

In Florida Monthly's more than 200,000 readers have voted The Florida Aquarium as Florida's best aquarium for 2006.


Also congrats to Clive Butcher, photographer and the Best Artist in Florida! You can see one of his works at the top of the escalator in the Florida Aquarium Lobby!

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is the Best State Park in Florida! What a reef!

Best Birdwatching (other than at the Florida Aquarium) is at the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, on Sanibel Island!

The Best Dive Shop in Florida? They say it is Ocean Divers on Key Largo!

Best Florida Aquarium Website? Ok, they didn't say it, but it's still great!

Thank You Florida Monthly!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What's New?

From our secret spy, Kristine Sanchez, Florida Aquarium Dive Interpreter

New birds were added in the Wetlands exhibit. Two male Red-Bellied Woodpeckers
can be found on exhibit across the mangroves. There is already one female.

One Great Egret and one Anhinga were added to the mangrove side. Sometimes the
Anhinga will hide, very well too, but just look closely.

Some of our fish have just packed up and moved.

The Sea Hunt Clownfish have recently purchased the home of the Anglerfish for a pretty decent price (really it was a steal!). The Clownfish have been relocated to the Anglerfish tank, right across the Ratfish exhibit. The only problem, is the Clownfish are now telling Ratfish jokes nonstop!

The Anglerfish will be off exhibit permanently. :( It was because nobody could find them!

There are some new baby Skate eggs in the Skate nursery down in the first floor lobby. Go check them out.

Thanks KS!

Dr. Tim

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Flying Stingrays?

It seems to be a wierd time for Stingray attacks, which are almost totally unheard of.

This week we had another incident, involving a chest wound, when an Eagle Ray jumped into a boat.

The Florida Aquarium's Eric Hovland offers guidance to Tampa's Channel 10:

Expert says stingrays jumping, "not uncommon"
By: Preston Rudie of Tampa Bay's 10

St. Petersburg, Florida - A Florida man is in the hospital following
what officials call a 'freak accident.'

James Bertakis was heading home after fishing on the Intracoastal in
Southeast Florida this week when a stingray jumped into his boat. When Bertakis
tried to get the ray out of his boat, the 81-year-old was struck by the animal's
barb. Officials responding to the situation called it a 'freak accident.'

However, local experts say rays frequently jump out of the water. One
reason, is to escape predators.

Eric Hovland, of The Florida Aquarium: "Escaping a predator, certainly
if you are chasing a prey, suddenly it is out of your view and it
lands at some other point, it can throw off your predator very quickly."

Hovland says eagle rays can jump as high as 15 feet into the air. He
adds: while the act my surprise humans, he says again "it's not uncommon".

Eric Hovland, of The Florida Aquarium said: "They (rays) are almost in
flight under the water as it is, so breaking the surface isn't that great a feet
for them." Hovland stresses rays do not jump in order to attack, and he
says other fish, such as kingfish, sailfish and mullet are also know to jump
into the air.

Preston Rudie, Tampa Bay's 10 News

My suggestion! When a Ray Jumps in your boat, you jump in the water!

Dr. Tim

Saturday, October 07, 2006

It's A Pond!

From our secret spy, Kristine Sanchez, Florida Aquarium Dive Interpreter

Now that the weather has eased a bit, take a walk upstairs and relax in the new butterfly garden. There are some great chairs to chill in, watch the koi paddle around and check out the butterflies. We unfortunately do not allow any swimming in the pond.

You can also see different animals in the large cage.

By the way, do you know what a Dive Interpreter is? No it's not an olympic judge! No, they don't translate Spanish speaking divers! They present the Florida Aquarium's dive shows!

Dr. Tim

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Halloween Parties!! The Best In Tampa Bay!

Remember, the Florida Aquarium hosts the Guppyween and Nauti Night Halloween Parties again this year!

For details visit and click on events! Or click here CurrentEvents

More Critter News!

News from our friend Kristine Sanchez one of the Education Department's Dive Interpreters:

There are "tons" of new sea stars in the No Bones Zone touch tank. 5 pink stars, 6 rainbow stars, 6 false ochres, 23 ochres, 27 bat stars were all added last week. Some of these new sea stars have some beautiful colors to them, so go check them out.

How many sea stars are there in a ton? Any guesses?

There are new graphics in the Wetlands area. All the educational signs about the animals have all been replaced.

The Koi pond is complete! The exhibit is located on the second floor balcony, just outside the doors near the No Bones Zone touch tank.

This is part of the new outdoor rest area constructed in the 2nd floor balcony, overlooking Explore A Shore. It's a good place to get away, and smoking is permitted out there.

It seems like new coral is just growing everywhere! Lots of new sea plumes, sea fans, and sea whips have been added to the Coral Reef tank. The tank looks very vibrant now.

Also some sea plumes were added to the wrasse and bubble tank located in reef mysteries (Reef Caves).

Some new plants were added to the spring’s exhibit as well. Just look up when you walk into the wetlands.

Thanks Kristine!

It looks like the staff has been hard at work adding to the exibits! It is not often said, but the Florida Aquarium's staff and volunteers do outstanding work, so that we all can enjoy the exhibits and animals that the Aquarium houses! Kudos!

Dr. Tim


Sunny the penguin is on vacation and not doing shows for a few days. We had a guest ask why? We always give our animals breaks from presentations and she is taking a few days off. This is standard animal husbandry that we do with all of our animals. So no worries!

The Evening Tide Talks program starts up again on October 4 at 6:15pm in Taylor Great Room at the Florida Aquarium, with Carlton Ward- Photojournalist. The public is welcome! The subject is Conservation Photography: From the Edge of Africa to the Heart of Florida. Carlton is an environmental photojournalist from Clearwater. Through his photographs, he aims to promote conservation of natural environments.

New Volunteer classes are starting up also! Please contact volunteer services or Jason and we will get you signed up.

October 21 from 10am – 3pm is Sea Scouts day; open to all Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Our focus for this program will be on sharks. We’re planning on several shark-related activities including special Behind the Scenes Tours with a focus on shark diet and the shark tank.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

New Rays

New Stingrays!

There are new Southern stingrays added to exhibits all over.

A few were added to the Bonnethead exhibit, in Bays and Beaches. This is the first tank you see when walking into the Bays and Beaches.

There are also a few stingrays added to the Beaches exhibit.

Come check them out!

Dr. Tim

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wouldn't Be Cool To Have An Alligator As A Pet?

NO! It would not! Wild Animals Don't Make Good Pets!

Why Wild Animals Don't Make Good Pets? (from AZA)

Exotic creatures like pythons, kinkajous and scarlet macaws have captured the hearts of animal-lovers looking for companions with pizzazz. Of course, nothing says "wow!" like a tiger; but keeping exotic animals as pets can come with a hidden cost.

What is a "wild" animal?

Wild animals have lived for thousands and thousands of years without the direct influence of humans. They have adaptations that help them survive in their own complex environments. They are not well adapted to living in your house!

What's wrong with having a wild animal as a pet?

There are several important reasons why you should not keep wild animals as pets:
  • You can't provide the right home for them.
  • Wild animals have complex behavioral, social, nutritional and psychological needs.
  • Most people simply cannot meet the needs of wild animals kept as "pets".
  • Wild animals need to be with members of their own species, not humans.
  • Taking them from the wild can endanger the species. Parrots (for example) are the world's most endangered family of birds due to devastation from the international pet trade. The enormous global demand for exotic pets is fueling the illegal capture and trade of millions of birds, mammals and reptiles annually, most of which die while being captured or transported.
  • You could get hurt. Keeping wild animals as pets can be dangerous. They can bite, scratch, attack their owners, and their owner's children and guests. Animal owners are legally responsible for any damage, injuries or illnesses caused by their animals. Finding new homes for large, hard-to-handle animals can be difficult, if not impossible, particularly since most zoos are unable to accept them.
  • You could get sick. Wild animals carry diseases dangerous to humans. Some diseases are not curable and can be fatal. Diseases include rabies, distemper, herpes viruses, salmonella, polio, tuberculosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and bubonic plague. Wild animals also harbor parasites, such as ascarid worms, tape worms, flukes, and protozoa.
  • It would probably be illegal. Many state, county and city ordinances prohibit the ownership of wild animals as pets.

What types of animals do make good pets?

  • Dogs, domestic cats, guinea pigs, domestic rats and mice, domestic gerbils, common hamsters, domestic ferrets, domestic rabbits, domestic chinchillas.
  • Interesting insects like African millipedes or Hissing cockroaches.
  • Responsibly captive-bred parakeets, canaries, cockatiels, doves, and pigeons.
  • Responsibly captive-bred reptiles and amphibians such as red-footed tortoises, lizards (bearded dragons, leopard geckos), snakes (corn snakes, king snakes, ball pythons) and frogs (White's tree frog, ornate horned frog, fire-bellied toad, red-eyed tree frog).
  • Tropical fish that are captive-raised or collected from sustainable wild populations make good pets. Look for certification from the Marine Aquarium Council when you buy tropical fish for your home aquarium.

Visit a shelter!

Millions of dogs and cats are destroyed each year because they don't have homes. Shelter directories such as the ASPCA or PetFinder are excellent places to find adoptable animals near you. Look carefully into the source of the animal you're considering. Not all dealers and breeders are reputable, so check them out in person to be sure you're not contributing to inhumane practices or illegal trade. Make sure that the pet you purchase has not been taken from the wild (especially birds, reptiles, and tropical fish). Never take a baby animal from the wild!

Dr. Tim

Sunday, August 13, 2006

News From Tourism

From the Florida Business Journal:
Gov. Jeb Bush has reappointed Thom Stork of Lutz, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Aquarium, and three others to the Florida Commission on Tourism. Stork's term began on Aug. 7 and runs until June 30, 2010, pending Senate confirmation.

The commission is a private/public partnership, consisting of the governor, one member from the Florida Senate and the Florida House of Representatives, and representatives from the various sectors of the tourism industry. In order to fulfill its mandate, the commission created the
Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corp., which does business as Visit Florida.

Congratulations Tom Stork!

Dr. Tim

Saturday, August 12, 2006

And End Of An Era - Just For A While!

As many have noticed over the last few months, the Lobby Stingray Touch Tank, isn't what it used to be. And unfortunately, many a child and adult have been unhappy by not being able to touch a ray.

Well, the current stingray touch tank is NOW a thing of the past. It will be taken down in the days to come, to be replaced by a much better touch tank, similar to the one now at Tropicana Field! If you came to the Florida Aquarium especially to see the rays, they have been moved.

The new tank is supposed to be double the size, with a lower side to make it easier for children to see and touch the rays. It is supposed to be populated with Cow Nosed Rays also, which are much more social and friendly than those that were in the smaller tank. The reason that we didn't have Cow Nosed Rays in there in the first place was that the current tank was too small. After all, the touch tank was originally designed for Dogfish (a kind of small shark

Once the current tank is removed, the space will be used for the Penguin Show. This will go on while the massive new filtration and plumbing system is put in place for the new tank. Then in January, construction of the new lobby stingray touch tank is supposed to begin, with completion in February 2007 (only six months away - so be sure you've got your annual membership so you can come on back!).

If you would like a peek at what it might look like, take a look at the Tropicana Touch Tank (visit and click on Stingrays to see the Tropicana Tank as well as the current touch tank).

To see the rays that were in the Touch Tanks:
  1. The three small Atlantic Stingrays are now in the Coral Caves! Just look up!
  2. The two Southern Stingrays: Miss Piggy and Sunshine, are now in the Beach tanks, but can not longer be touched in that tank. Also, the two dark Atlantic rays were also placed in the Beach tank.

There will be other upcoming new things coming to the Florida Aquarium also in the months to come, so stay tuned to our Blog for all the scoop!

Dr. Tim

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Happy Birthday Aquarium Volunters!!!

08/01 Karen C. // 08/01 John K // 08/03 Kyra McGuinness // 08/04 Kim C // 08/05 Dan C // 08/08 Hanna A // 08/09 Beth W // 08/11 Marcie C // 08/12 Russ M // 08/17 Paul H // 08/19 Bill L // 08/21 Erin McG // 08/25 Lillian K // 08/26 Tom T //
08/30 Jeff T // 08/31 Bob C // 08/31 Carol M

Dr. Tim

Name The Penguins

Have you seen the Black Foot South African Penguins at the Florida Aquarium?

You can view them at

Also, The Florida Aquarium is having a contest to name the new young Penguins. There is a boy and a girl penguin. Unfortunately, they only give you three choices, but you could always send your choice to To vote on the choices, go here!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Penguins At The Florida Aquarium


New Florida Aquarium "greeters" have wings!

The Florida Aquarium's latest attraction is interative to say the least. The next time you visit the aquarium, it won't be people greeting you in the lobby. It will be penguins.

A Penguin Promenade has been added to the guest experience, with the penguins appearing to meet and greet guests in the lobby of the Aquarium. The African penguins are new to the Aquarium and provide a unique interaction for our guests.

The penguins made their first official appearance this morning. They rolled into the lobby in the Penguin Mobile and promenade on the red carpet inches away from children and their parents.

The penguins will be meeting twice daily.

These penguins still need names and the Florida Aquarium would like your help. Click
here to make suggestions.

[from Tampa Bay's 10]

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Whales Can Live To Be 200 Years Old!

Ok, it's not really about the Florida Aquarium, but this is amazing:

Scientists have looked into the eyes of rare bowhead whales and learned that some of them can outlive humans by generations—with at least one male pushing 200 years old.

Click here for the full story:

Dr. Tim

Devil Rays To Pay For It!

According to Michael H. Samuels of

The Florida Devil Rays will pay $2,500 for each ball that lands in the new touch tank:

... If you plan to watch the Tampa Bay Devil Rays take on the Baltimore Orioles tonight, there's a chance a home run ball will land in the new aquatic touch tank beyond the outfield.

Based on the number of home runs hit to the tank's location in the past, more than 400 feet from home plate and 13 feet above the right-centerfield playing surface, Rays officials expect about one ball a year will land in the tank, where fans can view and touch cownose rays.

The team will donate $2,500 to The Florida Aquarium for each water shot hit by a Rays player and the same amount to a charity selected by the batter. Rays players have hit 51 home runs at Tropicana Field this year. Include opponents' runs and you have 98 balls that soared over the fences. None this year has hit where the tank was installed last week, team spokesman Rick Vaughn said.

"I wouldn't look for lots of balls to be raining down in that pool," Vaughn said.
The 10,000-gallon touch tank, which is free to fans, contains 30 cownose rays.

"Obviously the health and well-being of the animals is our No. 1 priority," said Florida Aquarium spokesman Tom Wagner. "It would take a freak accident for one of the rays to get injured." ...

From the story by: Reporter Michael H. Samuels can be reached at (813)835-2109 or

Click here for the full story:

So here's hoping for lots of home runs for the rays (both kinds!)

Here's another story about the Touch Tank on MLB:

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fishy News

Well they have been at it again!

A whole bunch of new fish! So next time you visit, take this along as scavenger hunt for you and the kids!

Here's the list courtesy of my buddy Kristine:

Beach Exhibit

  • lizardfish 1
  • Ocean Surgeonfish 6
  • Yellow goatfish 1

Coral Reef Tank
(the shallow side is where you just walk into the Coral Reef side of the Aquarium)
(the deep side is the larger panoramic view)
  • porcupine puffer fish 1 (shallow side)
  • scrawled filefish 1 (shallow side)
  • banded butterfly fish 4 (shallow side)
  • four eyed butterfly fish 10 (shallow side)
  • midnight parrotfish 1 (deep side)
  • stoplight parrotfish 1 (shallow side)
  • princess parrotfish 1 (shallow side)
  • Bluestripe Grunt 121 (deep side)
  • French Grunt 120 (deep side)
  • Saucereye porgy 1 (shallow side)
  • Yellowtail snapper 8 (deep side)
  • Queen Angelfish 3 (shallow side)
Also the Planktivores exhibit in Sea Hunt is back up. It looks great so go check it out.

Thanks to everyone at the Aquarium! You guys do a great job!

Dr. Tim

Sunday, July 09, 2006

New @

What's New!

Since I created the site last year, the public response has been wonderful.

I have received dozens of emails tanking me for: creating a way to preview the Florida Aquarium for those that had never visited; teachers who valued the depth of content that they could use for their students; visitors that were able to share their visit with friends and families; and even Aquarium staff who enjoy my quirky snaps of them doing fishy things! The site has also been a boon to the event sales, since it shows off the Aquarium so well.

Thank you all for your great comments!

I have recently added much more to the site. Whole new sections have been added, as well as incremental items. Here is a short list of what's new!

First and formost, you have to check out our EXCLUSIVE ART SHOW called CryptoAquarium featuring the amazing photo-art of my friend 'amon' from the United Kingdom. Trust me, you just have to see it to understand!

What's New page has been added to help!

Be sure to check our
Aquarium Babies page for new babies

Several new pages have been added to the
website Behind The Scenes Tour, including: Animal Care (with pix of new animals too), and Animal Quarantine (show new animals before they are added to the exhibits).

A new
Florida Aquarium History page has been added.

A new
About The Florida Aquarium page has been added, with easy one-click access to MapQuest location and directions.

If you are looking for the list of
Upcoming Events at the Florida Aquarium, then see the Official Events Calendar page.

The Bays & Beaches area on our website has been broken into four pages now:
Estuaries (the area leaving Wetlands and just before Bays); Bays (including part of Bay Bottoms); Bridges & Bottoms (including sandy, rocky, and oyster bed bottoms); Beaches (and sandy shores)

A Port Of Tampa photo page has also been added.

Did you know that The Florida Aquarium has its own ISLAND? It's called Fantasy Island and you can see it here!

I have added a new Video Archive section on the website, containing a variety of videos, from The Florida Aquarium's new TV commercial, to the Animal Planet's special on the top aquariums in the world featuring The Florida Aquarium, to video clips of animals at the Aquarium. See it here!

Also, a new FREE Greeting Card service has been added (just because I could!), so enjoy!

And lastly, tons of new photos have been added. I'll let you explore for yourself! Remember that your FREE Photo Tour of the Florida Aquarium starts right here!

I hope you enjoy my site! And please feel free to share your experiences!

Dr. Tim


Just a small note.

On June 13th, the Florida Aquarium received its 7 millionth visitor!

Regardless of what_ever_illionth visitor you may be, we would love to hear about your experience! Please leave a comment!

Dr. Tim

Florida Aquarium Parking Lot Alert

From The Florida Aquarium Management:

Please note that The Florida Aquarium is adding a “members only” lane to our parking lot entrance in early July. The lane will include an automated bar that will raise and lower when you enter your member ID number on a keypad.

Since you will need this member ID number to utilize this system, please be sure to bring your member card with you for each visit to the Aquarium.

We are adding this member’s only parking lane to make it more convenient for our members to enter the lot. Once the new parking system is in place, members will no longer have to wait in line for paying customers in queue at the manned booth.

As always, members will have access to the parking lot during regular business hours and on members’ only nights.
  • To find the member ID number on your membership card, please locate the three-, four-, or five-digit number located to the right of the “member:” heading in the middle of your card.
  • Please enter only the number; the symbol at the end (a “u” with two dots over it which looks like a smiley face) is not part of the member ID and should be ignored when you are using the keypad.
If you have any questions, please call the membership hotline at 813-273-4030. Thank you for your support!

More New Critters!

Well, the Aquarium Staff have been busy as, well, um - Otters! lately! They have added a whole boatload of new critters! We told you about the gators and the porcupine puffers already. But wait there are more...

Some new birds have been added to the wetlands. There are two common moorhens, and new wood ducks (2 males, 2 females total), and one new whistling duck (making 4 total - good thing there were four Marx brothers, so we don't have to change their names: Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and now Zepo!).

Lots of new fish were added to different tanks too. Of course the new barracudas in the Estuary tank. A few spiny lobsters were added to the lobster tank in the Bays and Beaches area. (Including the HUGE one). 2 spiny lobsters were added to the Squirrel Fish tank in the Coral Reef Caves; plus a Spanish lobster and a slipper lobster were added to the concave tank, also in the Caves. Many different small fish, including: a sharpnose puffer, a sea star, and a baby porkfish were also added in the small reef fish tank next to the small nurse sharks also in the Caves.

A bat crab was added to the last Estuaries tank (This tank is one of the last tanks on your left walking out of the wetlands.) Also a scrawled filefish was added to the shallow side of the Coral Reef tank (just as you enter the Coral Reef galleries).

Besure to check them out on your next visit! We will try to add photos to the Photo Tour website as soon as possible.

Dr. Tim

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Gator Swap Meet

After Jose Blanco, the white Gator on loan until May 2006, went back to New Orleans, 50 new baby gators were added. However, cute as they were, they were not a good fit for the Aquarium. So they were sent packing back to the Gator Farm!

Now, there are nine larger gators in the wetlands exhibit. These larger gators are a lot easier to see in the exhibit, and look more ferocious! So be sure to stop by and offer a hand out!

Dr. Tim

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th Of July - America's Birthday

To all of you, especially my fellow Veterans, Have a Happy Fourth of July!

Let us never forget what this day stands for, and how hard won our freedoms are! Never forget, that we, Americans, more than any people in the history of our species, are responsible for the freedoms the world now enjoys! Without America, there would be no freedom ANYWHERE!

So on this day, after the fireworks have ended, give a moment of silence in remembrance of those who died for this freedom, and for those who fight this very moment so that we and others around the world can enjoy what we so take for granted!.

Did I mention the best place to see fireworks this 4th is the Florida Aquarium!!! Open till 10pm today! See you there!

Dr. Tim

P.S. if you ever need a reminder of why we fight: click here

Over the last few months, our website has grown by leaps and bounds.

Massive new areas have been added to allow you to see nearly every part of the Aquarium - public and behind the scenes. We have also been witness to some amazing events: baby rays, new fish, new otters, new gators, the opening of new exhibits, and so much more.

If you haven't thoroughly explored take a look NOW! And see what you've never seen by just visiting the Aquarium itself!

Dr. Tim

Baby Update!

Over the last couple of months, several new critters have come to the Aquarium. Take a peek here on our Babies Page

Welcome IVAN! The New Baby River Otter! Ivan is terribly cute, and will make his appearance in the next few months. So be sure to keep an eye out for him! (that's Ivan in the photo at right)

Amazingly, several new Cow Nosed Ray babies have been born. This is the first year where baby rays have been born at the aquarium, so the husbandry and veterinary staff have been learning about their care first hand. Caring for baby stingrays in captivity is a major scientific challenge, but the staff have been up to the task! While you can't see them on display at the Aquarium, we have photos of them here on our Baby Ray page

We have also had baby fish and baby birds too! Check out our Babies Page for all of them!

We have also been adding new fish!

When new fish come to the Aquarium, they first go through a thorough quarantine process, to make sure no harmful organisms make their way into the exhibits. The first are kept in a special quarantine area, until they are ready to be moved into one of the exhibit tanks. As always, we show you the real Aquarium behind the scenes, so you can see the quarantine area yourself:

New Fish:

New young barracudas have been added in the Estuaries tanks (just before Bays & Beaches as you are leaving the Wetlands). See them here

Two new Porcupine Puffer Fish have been added.

One is in the entrance tank in the Coral Reef exhibit (just as you walk into Coral Reefs). His name (per the unofficial unauthorized naming committee (Tim & Kim)) is Puffy Junior! (because Puff Daddy is in the main Coral Reed Panorama tank). See him here:

The other new Porcupine Puffer was added by the delivery team of Emily & Emily, to the Beaches exhibit. His name is H.R.Puffinstuff. Say hello next time your at the Aquarium. They are really cute! See him here: And you can also see the release on our Animal Care page:

We also have new Atlantic Stingrays in the lobby touch tank.

With all that has been added, it's definitely time to come back and check out the Florida Aquarium!

Dr. Tim

Welcome Back

Welcome Back! I've been away from this forum for a while, and in that time a LOT has happened at the Florida Aquarium! New Exhibits, New Animals, Expansions, and changes galore!

Aquariumania is finally open! What a great exhibit (congrats to Patti the exhibit design czar at the Aquarium - nice job!). Aquariumania is dedicated to the Home Aquarium Enthusiast. It displays dozens of amazing aquariums, including a gigantic freshwater panoramic tank that has to be seen! Check it out here:

Also, Explore A Shore has been expanded with the New Squirting Eels! Cool water fun for all the kids! See it here: After all it's summer time, and time to be outdoors and having fun!

Lots of new animals have also been added, and a few old friends gone. Come see all the changes for yourself at and see them live at the Florida Aquarium!

Dr. Tim

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

News & Update

A lot has happened over the last month at the Florida Aquarium!

New baby cow nosed stingrays were born! Currently in isolation, you can see them on our page: and

We have new baby White Ibis chicks - 2 of them! See the latest photos here:

We have several of our Egrets and Herons nesting furiously throughout wetlands!

We have a new Ruddy Male Duck!

We have new stingrays in the lobby touch tank also! Three new Atlantic Stingrays have been added!

The new addition in Explore A Shore - the squirting eels - is now open to the delight of children young and old! Take a peak here:

But wait, there's more! lol There is a whole new exhibit opening this week! NEW Aquariumania is opening on Member Night May 26 for members only, and Saturday May 27 for all! You have to check out this great new exhibit that explores the science and fun of home aquariums! Stick you head in and your be amazed! It is located on the 3rd floor of the Wetlands Overlook and accessible also from the Coral Farm. See a preview and construction pix here:

Come and see all that's new at the Florida Aquarium for yourself!

Dr. Tim

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter Eggs

Easter at the Florida Aquarium was fun!

We had underwater swimming Bunnies! (It was really one of our staff members named Kim with a bunny suit over her scuba gear) (You can see all the photos here

We had Easter egg hunts!

We even had a new arrival in our Wetlands Gallery. Our nesting White Ibis laid an egg! And such proud parents they were!

For the rest of the Wetlands Birds photos goto

So come on by and say hello to the expectant parents in our Wetlands Exhibit!

Dr. Tim

Avoid Shark Dangers

Florida Shark Safety

As we head into another summer beach frenzy, it is worth reviewing shark safety tips.

While sharks doe not like humans (to eat) in general, they make mistakes, and can be territorial. So it is best to practice safety first.

Ways To Avoid Shark Attacks

While one is more likely to be struck my lightning than bit by a shark, it is still important to take precautions.

It is recommended you abide by the following guidelines to ensure your swimming experience in the ocean is a safe one:
  • Never swim alone. Use the buddy system.
  • Keep away from murky water. Swim where the water is clear. That way sharks can SEE you and avoid you.
  • Don't swim where people are fishing or near run-off or drainage areas. This will confuse their sense of smell.
  • Also steer clear of steep drop-offs, channels or river mouths where sharks are found.
  • Avoid swimming during dawn, twilight or evening hours. This makes it more difficult to see you and differentiate food from people.
  • Avoid wearing shiny jewelry or highly contrasting bathing suits that can visually attract or confuse sharks.

Remember, sharks don't have High IQs!

Dr. Tim

New Explore A Shore Feature

Pssst, don't tell anybody...

It seems the Florida Aquarium is cooking something up for Explore A Shore! Giant squirting moray eels! See the photo at right >

This is supposed to be complete and installed before the end of summer.

Dr. Tim

Monday, April 17, 2006

Major Expansion On Tap For Aquarium
Published: Apr 14, 2006 Tampa Tribune

TAMPA - The president of The Florida Aquarium hopes to announce next fall a $40 million to $50 million expansion plan that will include new dolphin, sea lion and giant shark exhibits and a revamped remodeled lobby.

Thom Stork said Thursday that he plans to submit a long-range plan to the aquarium's board of directors in October that will include the projects. If the board approves the project, the aquarium would need to raise money from private donors.

"Fresh attractions will give visitors a reason to come back again," Stork said. Attendance at the attraction has been up the past several years, but the 620,000 visitors last year was still below projections. Aquarium officials had predicted before the facility opened in 1995 that attendance would surpass a million patrons a year.

Stork said he would like to remodel the attraction's two-story lobby in 2008.
He estimates that would cost $10 million. Stork said he wants to install multimedia presentations and interactive displays to liven up guests first impressions of the now "sterile lobby." The area features mostly open space leading to exhibits, except for an ice cream stand and a stingray tank.

Later phases of Stork's proposal are more ambitious. Stork said he'd like to add new dolphin, sea lion and giant shark exhibits in 2010. Doing so could cost an estimated $30 million to $40 million, he said. Focus groups have expressed interest in seeing such creatures, Stork said.
Stork, a former marketing director at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, has pushed to make an aquarium visit more entertaining in efforts to increase visitation.

The last capital project the aquarium undertook was a children's play area in 2004. The aquarium raised $2.4 million in donations and public grants to build it.

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Great News FLAQ Fans!

But I have one question...
Is it a tank for a giant shark, or a giant tank for many sharks? ;)

Enquiring Minds Want To know!

Dr. Tim

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Ooops - Official Website Web Cams

I have heard from countless folks, both online and in person at the aquarium about the web cams on the official website. So, I thought I would offer an explanation.

Unlike most aquariums, the Florida Aquarium decided to put cameras into the actual tanks, instead of placing them outside looking in. While this creates a more realistic view & appearance, it does bring complications. Salt water is not a kind to electronics, and neither are fish. So the result is that most of the cameras no longer function.

Unfortunately, this has been overlooked by the auqarium webmaster, who still has the web cam links throughout the official website. Just disregard them.

Hopefully, we can get new cameras installed outside of the tanks that will last. If you know of a vendor of IPCameras that might be interested in contributing a half dozen to the aquarium, please let us know!

I would love to know your impressions of the official website as well! Please post your comments!

Dr. Tim

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Florida Aquarium Charity

I am familiar with several charities, and have contributed to many. However, I must say how pleased I am with the Florida Aquarium, and the management of their funding activities.

I recently saw that the Florida Aquarium is rated highest, compared to peers, by Charity Navigator (

When giving of your time or money (as I do), it is always important to make sure that you are giving to an organization that places their focus on the real use of that money, and not on their own administration. With an 85% efficiency, the Florida Aquarium clearly is such an organization.

If you would like to see how they use their funds, just take a look at the Florida Aquarium! ( Both the public side, and the behind the scenes activities are a credit to the Tampa Bay Area, and Thomas Stork (and past CEOs) deserve kuddos!

Dr. Tim

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Case Of The Missing Cell Phone

From The March Issue Of SeaNopsis:

Be sure to take a look at “Shark Bay” next time you are wondering around the Aquarium. Thanks to Chuck H. and the rest of the life support crew, we now have a new and much improved lighting system for this tank. Finally, the colors of the animals are noticeable and the water, well it actually has a sparkle to it.

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Dr. Tim

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Dolphin Eco Tour

Most visitors I have come in contact with absolutely love the Florida Aquarium. But I have noticed something worth discussing. This is the Wild Dolphin Eco Tour that leaves the Aquarium dock. The Tour is aboard the Aquarium's Bay Spirit catamaran, that usually makes 2 to 3 trips out each Saturday and Sunday, as well as during the week.

I have noticed that visitors are disappointed when no dolphins show themselves during a tour. So perhaps it is worthwhile to discuss why this might be, and why it is still a wonderful trip!

First, it is important to remember that these are WILD DOLPHINS! Not tame, trained animals. They don't come on command. In other parts of the world, even wild dolphins will come on command because they are fed by the tour operators. However, here in Florida, it is illegal to feed or interfere with wild dolphins in any way. So the crew of the Aquarium's Bay Spirit have no way to assure the cooperation of the dolphins.

Second, dolphins are mobile creatures. They go where they want to go. The Tour crew use every tool available, plus their vast experience to locate the dolphins, yet there are times, when they transform into invisible dolphins!

But even though you may not see any visible dolphins, the Tour aboard the Bay Spirit is still the best tour of the bay and Port of Tampa there is, and well worth the ride and cost. After all, the old saying is still true - the worst day on the bay, is better than the best on land!

So, if you can't see any visible dolphins on a given trip - check out our photos at And, even though you didn't see any visible dolphins, remind those around you, that you saw LOTS of invisible dolphins! ;)

Dr. Tim

Saturday, March 18, 2006

New Shows

New Shows @ Florida Aquarium
Published: March 7, 2006 on

TAMPA - The stars of the Florida Aquarium's new stage show are not fish.

So what's what are a Nigerian dwarf goat, a Polish chicken and a Labrador retriever doing starring in the Florida Aquarium's new stage show?

The answer has little to do with marine life and a lot to do with entertainment.

The stage animals, which also include 11 rats, make their debut Thursday afternoon, part of the aquarium's plan to continue boosting attendance by offering people new ways to connect more intimately with the organization.

Two goats that will alternate performing in the daily afternoon show, are being trained to jump on crates, take a bow and wave to the audience.

Rats, in the process of learning their routines, will run around the new $30,000 circular stage before exiting through a hole.

Fish simply can't deliver the intimate experience that mammals can, especially to young children, the target audience for the show. Making a connection helps boost attendance, and therefore, revenue.

Aquariums face a conundrum, said Jeffrey Hyson, a professor at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, who is writing a book on the history and culture of zoological institutions. The very thing that sustains them -- fish -- aren't necessarily cuddly nor easy for children to make a connection with, Hyson said.

"The fish don't have the personality of the animals," Hyson said. "They can't be presented as charismatic characters."

None of the animals in the new show is typically found in Florida, unlike animals in the aquarium's other animal show.

"We wanted to create something more exotic," said Paula Blum, who directs the aquarium's animal shows. She said the animals were chosen for their ability to be trained and adored.
The aquarium's president said increasing the entertainment value of the facility is a key goal. "If the kids are entertained, the families are entertained, hopefully they will come back often," said President Thom Stork, who was formerly marketing director at Busch Gardens and SeaWorld.
Stork said a key problem for the aquarium when it opened in 1995 was that the original management made it so educational that there was little focus on fun.

The aquarium quickly turned out to be a financial disaster after its opening. Attendance was more than 40 percent below original projections of 1.8 million visitors. The nonprofit aquarium couldn't make its payments on the $84 million in bonds, and the city was forced to assume financial responsibility for the institution.

That obligation goes to 2027. In the current fiscal year the debt service is $7 million. That translates into about $21 for every one of Tampa's 321,000 residents.

The aquarium has put more emphasis on entertainment the last several years, leading to modest attendance gains. Attendance reached 607,570 in 2004, the best since its opening in 1995. In the year ending in October, attendance reached 620,000.

Aquarium officials insist they don't neglect the institution's educational mission.
Kimberly Casey, the aquarium's chief financial officer, said the show serves as a hook to draw people into the nonprofit institution to learn about marine life.

Even with its entertainment values, the show still offers a conservation message about the importance of all animals, Casey said.

Dennis Spiegel, a Cincinnati-based theme park consultant, said the Tampa aquarium's approach is not unusual. The aquarium in Denver featured tigers and an aquarium in Newport, Ky., has Santa Claus diving with the sharks, he said.

"Aquarium displays by themselves can be boring," he said.

From a business point of view the Florida Aquarium's animal show makes sense, Hyson said, but it risks criticism from animal rights groups who might feel the stage animals are being exploited.
Blum said the animals reside in cages that exceed minimum federal and industry-accepted zoological standards and are taken for frequent walks during the day. She also said all their stage behaviors are naturalistic, showing behaviors that animals would portray in the wilds or in urban centers, in the case of rats.

Once they learn their routines, the animals won't be doing them forever. Casey said the aquarium plans to retool the show every six months.

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So, "Aquarium displays by themselves can be boring," huh? Not to the 100's of thousands of visitors every years, and the thousands I have personally met volunteering in the Aquarium!

An Aquarium does need to be a fun experience, but let's not forget that animals are not toys (much as we all enjoy petting the stingrays). The beauty and value of the Aquarium is in the presentation of life! Yes there is much that can be done to improve this, and shows are a great approach - there should be more of them in fact! Yes, visitors want to see, touch, and smell the animals. But in our ever diminished world, exposure to the variety of life is, in and of itself, a valuable reward.

"The fish don't have the personality of the animals," Hyson said. "They can't be presented as charismatic characters." Well, IMHO, this is bunk!!!! He should try actually interacting with fish! Stingrays have personalities, as do many fish. My friend George, the Rockweed Gunnell Fish in the No Bones Zone, with the big "puppy dog" eyes, and curious personality is a good example. Another is the evil Willey The Wolf Eel (also No Bones Zone) - not cuddy, friendly, or even nice (in my opinion), never the less has a distinct personality. All it takes, is getting to know them. Of course, there are examples of fish as dense as pier pillings - can you say Red Drum?

Dr. Tim

Monday, March 06, 2006


As someone who has been volunteering for several months, I can tell you that our participation with the Florida Aquarium has been nothing but enjoyable. It is a pleasure to work with the Aquarium Staff, who really appreciates the value that volunteers bring to the Aquarium.

The initial volunteer training was an enlightening experience. It provides a unique setting to learn unbelievable amounts of information about, not only the Florida Aquarium itself, but also about the animals it is home to. For those who are more interested in public contact, going through the additional Educational Department training, is even more amazing. You will learn vast amounts about sea life, and their habitats, all in a low pressure fun setting.

I would encourage anyone that is interested in or loves sea life, to check out the Volunteering page on our site for more information. If you are a diver, there is no place better! You get to dive any day you want, and you always have the best view and closest interaction with marine life. Even if you're not a diver, there are lots of opportunities to work directly with the animals!

So check it out today!

Dr. Tim

Sunday, March 05, 2006

New Content

Thank You for your visit to

New content has been added!

New photos have been added to numerous pages. A new WebFish page has been added containing links to Aquariums all over the world. A Fun page has also been added for mindless amusement.


Dr. Tim

Welcome To The Florida Aquarium Forum

Welcome Visitors

Welcome to the Florida Aquarium Forum!

This is a new forum/blog created to allow visitors to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida, to share their experiences. Please feel free to tell us about your visit; what you enjoyeds, what amazed you, or if you disliked something! You are also welcome to share photos of your visit, we'd love to see them!

Please feel free to visit our companion website:

If you haven't visited the Florida Aquarium, we strongly urge you to visit! The Florida Aquarium is one of the premier attactions in all of Florida!


Tim McGuinness
Aquarium Volunteer