Aquariums are important for members of the community to get up close with marine life, and educate themselves on conservation efforts. Even when The Florida Aquarium was closed to visitors during COVID-19, they continued to be innovative in order to open as quickly and safely as possible to the public. The Florida Aquarium is an economic driver for the City of Tampa, as it drives foot traffic to the area by encouraging visitors of the aquarium to also take part in other local attractions and accommodations. On July 23rd, The Florida Aquarium President and CEO Roger Germann spoke at the Digital Downtown Debriefing about the aquarium and the journey it has been through over the last few months to get to where it is now.
During its COVID-19 closure, The Florida Aquarium created an online platform for children to learn more about marine life. The platform was available to everyone, so that the aquariums’ mission of conservation education could continue in a virtual way. At the aquarium, animals continued getting the care they needed from dedicated staff members. Some animals had even experienced mood changes since there were no longer guests walking through the aquarium! Animal caregivers would play music, turn lights on and off, and give animals the extra care they deserved to make the unusual time less confusing for them.
Upon re-opening, the aquarium worked very closely with the infectious disease team, as well as the guidelines set by the CDC. The Florida Aquarium was one of the first to open in its industry of aquariums, zoos, and museums, and were proud to be ahead and a leader for others navigating opening procedures. Although masks were not yet mandated in Tampa, the aquarium required all visitors to wear a mask. Since opening, the aquarium has had no enforcement-related issues with masks, and around 90% of its visitors have reported feeling safe and secure while visiting the aquarium.
Currently, all of the aquariums’ attractions are now open, which has allowed visitors to properly celebrate The Florida Aquariums’ 25th Anniversary! The aquarium offers unique experiences, such as diving and snuba lessons, in addition to its many exhibits and hands-on experiences such as an outdoor splash pad for children. The flow and story of the aquarium has also remained the same— with visitors starting going up and escalator to mimic the feeling of a droplet of water starting on the surface, and then gradually going down into the ocean, ending at the deepest layer.
The aquarium has been focusing on coral restoration and sea turtle rescuing, with a facility at Apollo Beach. They have also had the ability to help other areas on an informal basis with other marine conservation projects. Growth for The Florida Aquarium will continue, as new exhibits are being introduced, and new ideas are constantly being brought to action— the aquarium does not plan 24 hours in advance, they plan 24 years in advance, ensuring that there will always be exciting and new opportunities for those visiting. To learn more about The Florida Aquarium or to buy tickets, visit https://www.flaquarium.org/.
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This post was written by Elevate, Inc.