Jellyfish probably aren't the first creatures that you'd want to pet, but there's no denying that they're mesmerizing to look at. If you've ever wanted to get up close with jellyfish in a controlled environment, you can pet the jellyfish at a new Florida Aquarium Exhibit.
The Florida Aquarium in Tampa opened their Moon Bay exhibit - an almost 2,000-gallon habitat housing the squishy creatures. The display has 2 shallow pools where you can touch the jellies using the 2 finger touch technique. You'll find that jellyfish are surprisingly firm, many describing them to feel like a wet mushroom.
The 2 pools come together at a 3-foot acrylic sphere in the center where you can watch the nearly transparent jellies float about. The color changing lights of the exhibit will cause them to glow, allowing you to observe the natural beauty of these graceful sea creatures.
The experience gets you up close with cold-water moon jellies, which the aquarium says don't sting. Of course, those worried about safety, worry not - staff members are experts at protecting people and animals in these encounters. The Florida Aquarium also maintains a stingray touch exhibit with highly trained staff.
The experience seeks to give people a chance to experience this hypnotically beautiful ocean creature up close, while also teaching visitors about jellyfish and ocean conservation.
The Florida Aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. The AZA regularly evaluates and re-evaluates the Zoos and Aquariums that have received accreditation to ensure that they continue to meet the highest standards possible for animal care, animal health, habitat maintenance, and cleanliness.
The jellyfishes in this exhibit are self-sustaining due to their extremely efficient reproductive cycle. They create polyps, which will detach under specific conditions, essentially cloning itself. With this flexible reproduction cycle, the jellies can repopulate even if a catastrophe devastates its numbers.
The Florida Aquarium utilizes the jellies’ reproduction cycle periodically, modifying water temperature and other conditions, so plenty of baby jellyfish are born. This ensures no jellyfish are ever taken from the wild; for more information about The Florida Aquarium's mission, vision, and history - check their website here.
To see what all goes into receiving an AZA Accreditation, check the AZA's website here.
Pet The Jelly Fish
Price: General admission gives you a run of all exhibits in the museum and varies a little depending on the day; the price stays around the $30/adult mark for single day admittance. Admission tickets can be purchased online here.
Address: The Florida Aquarium - 701 Channelside Drive Tampa, Florida 33602
Open daily - 9:30 am-5pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day
Why you need to go: Experience a creature you probably never have up close and personal. Admire the jellies as they float gracefully in a lighted tank, and learn more about them and their surprising survivability.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit a potentially hazardous location, you check for the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, always respect the environment.
Some photos used for illustrative purposes