Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tarpon Springs Aquarium

John and I have visited the town of Tarpon Springs several times in the past.  However I do not believe that I have written a posting on it.  Briefly, Tarpon Springs was an important center for sponge fishing when Greek divers came to the area in the early 1900s.  The industry is not thriving as it had been, but the Greek influence is still present and can be noticed in the sponge shops, restaurants and bakeries of the town today.  There is sponge fishing exhibitions, John and I took a cruise in the past to see the sponge divers at work.
We had just entered the aquarium when we noticed that a staff member had turned over a large sea snail to show the creature inside.  He informed us that it is one of Florida's largest predatory subtropical and tropical sea snails.
The aquarium has an entire wing dedicated to "hands-on" educational experience for visitors to experience petting and feeding a variety of species of rays and sharks.  In the picture above our daughter Melissa is feeding a sting ray.  For someone who is afraid of little bugs and insects, it is amazing how sea creatures do not seem to faze her!
The aquarium has a simulated coral reef complete with tropical plants and fish.  I was immediately drawn to it because it was so colorful.  A sign near the display notes that coral reefs are the most biodiverse environment in the world.  More tropical plants and animals are found on them than anywhere else in the world.
 Sadly coral reefs are disappearing at an alarming rate.  Some types of fishing activities, pollution, and global warming play a part in their destruction.
One last picture here is that of the Goliath Grouper, the largest in the grouper family- which are in the bass family.  The Goliath Grouper can weigh over 680 pounds.  The aquarium is small, but we certainly felt that we saw a lot.  There are also eels, lobsters, octopus, anemones, as well as a variety of large snakes.

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