A Visit to the Key West Aquarium
Key West, Florida, USA
- Touch tank: Hold the sea in your hands, in the form of conchs, sea stars, slate pencil sea urchins, serpent sea stars, sea cucumbers, giant hermit crabs, and horseshoe crabs.
- Shark interactive feeding: Get up close to man’s most misunderstood apex predators. Watch them being fed. Or even feed a juvenile nurse shark yourself and feel its skin.
Stingray and sea turtle feedings going on, too.
- Atlantic Shores exhibit: Watch life happen in this 50,000-gallon cutaway saltwater mangrove environment teeming with game fish, colorful tropical fish, even sharks and turtles.
About this Key West, Florida tour
So much of what once made Florida, well, Florida, has been paved over or forgotten. And that almost happened to the Key West Aquarium, the nation's first open-air aquarium when it opened with great hopes in February of 1935. Barely seven months later, the infamous Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 barreled through, destroying the Overseas Railroad – and thus, eliminating the only non-boat link to the Key West. Tourism there went into deep hibernation.
But eventually a new Overseas Highway was completed, crossing many of the piers and trestles once used by the ruined railway. WWII was over, optimism was on the rise, and the newly reopened Key West Aquarium was more popular than ever. Now, it's your turn to visit – and experience some of that delightful mid-Century character, updated to reflect modern developments in the care, feeding and conservation of precious marine wildlife.
With a regular schedule of interactive feedings, talks, and demonstrations to move between, you can organize your visit however you please. Ever-present guides will help you gently and safely engage with the various marine residents, and answer your questions knowledgably.
Get up close and personal with your favorite mollusks, crustaceans and echinoderms (look it up) in the Touch Tank. Participate in a hands-on feeding session with a sea turtle, shark, or even a cownose stingray (none of them will harm you, we promise). Observe a full-scale living red mangrove ecosystem, cross sectioned for your viewing pleasure and fully stocked with game fish, sharks, turtles, and colorful tropicals.
This stuff is what visiting Florida's supposed to be about. And we're all lucky it still can be.
Labor Day 1935 was a killer
Growing over warm tropical waters, undetected till it was nearly on top of the Keys, the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 was the strongest ever to make U.S. landfall. Its 185 mph winds and 18-20 foot surge spread epic devastation across the low-lying middle Keys. Over 400 dead, nearly every tree and structure destroyed, and some 40 miles of the Overseas Railroad washed away – along with all but the loco of an 11-car evacuation train dispatched too late to rescue anyone.
Please make your way to Mallory Square - 1 Whitehead St., Key West, Florida.
Tour requires walking over even surfaces with a limited number of steps, a minimal amount of cobblestones or uneven surfaces, and some standing for extended time. Tour not wheelchair accessible but is accessible to travelers with canes and walkers.
Family Friendly, Theme Park
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated mild. To participate fully, you may be required to walk over primarily even surfaces at a leisurely pace. You may encounter a limited number of steps, cobblestones, or uneven surfaces, and you may have to stand for extended periods of time.
Suitable for all ages.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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