With an array of wildlife including lemurs, sharks, river otters and sea turtles, students can go from tree level to sea level at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa. 

Students at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida
[/media-credit] Students, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa, Fla.

“Students come face-to-face with sharks, rays, otters, lemurs, alligators and a variety of fish,” said Tristin Ware, senior education manager at the aquarium. “There are special presentations and areas where animals can be gently touched, allowing students to make a closer connection to many living things.”

The aquarium shares a variety of educational programs for student groups, including hands-on squid dissections.

“Our programs are well-received because there is a hands-on component for more inquiry-based learning,” Ware said. “Squid dissections are definitely one of our more popular programs.”

Groups also can learn about Tampa Bay’s ecology and industry with a 75-minute boat ride. Behind-the-scenes tours of the aquarium share an inside look of the operations, and students can see what goes into keeping animal habitats clean, and how to keep animals healthy and happy.

Cypress swamp exhibit at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida
[/media-credit] Cypress swamp exhibit, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa, Fla.

Another focus of The Florida Aquarium is conservation, and how others can make changes to create a positive impact on the environment. The aquarium protects and restores animal species and their habitats, focusing on three animals that play major roles in oceans: sea turtles, sharks and coral.

“We hope that students have fun and leave with new knowledge while discovering a conservation action they can do that will improve our blue planet,” Ware said. “I hope that each student is able to make a more personal connection to an animal or habitat which will lead to a conservation action or a change in their daily behavior. Maybe they will start to skip straws, bike to school or use reusable bags.”

Teachers interested in additional program information are encouraged to contact the aquarium’s reservations department.

For more information, call 813-273-4000 or visit flaquarium.org.