Sea Life Orlando Aquarium Houses 1,000+ Underwater Creatures
At Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, guests get an up-close look at fish and other sea life from around the world (photo ©Matt Marriott).
With 71 percent of the earth’s surface covered by water, it is no surprise that humans have an endless curiosity for life under the waves. Sea Life Orlando Aquarium brings children and adults eye to eye with creatures of the sea. Opened in May 2015, Sea Life Orlando is the 50th Sea Life aquarium to open globally under Merlin Entertainments.
After purchasing an entry ticket, guests are welcome to explore the aquarium on a self-guided tour. Informational guides are posted throughout the area, as well as interactive exhibits and activities to engage visitors. Sea Life Orlando officials are proud to cater to their youngest guests through interactive child-first engagement. Even the way the exhibits are designed are geared toward youth, with child-height viewing portals, so youngsters can get the full experience. The aquarium will also be offering Toddler Tuesdays, during which families can access the aquarium before it opens.
“An adult’s experience at an aquarium is much different from a child’s experience,” said Jennifer Edwards, marketing manager of Sea Life Orlando.
Each habitat at the aquarium is as unique as the area it represents. There are three ocean habitats: Atlantic, Pacific and Indian. Each provides a look at that region’s marine life. Those who are interested in local wildlife will not be disappointed with the Florida habitat, which showcases a variety of fish and anything else someone would find in the waters of Florida and the Shingle Creek area. One of the main attractions at the aquarium is its 360-degree ocean tunnel, the only one in Florida, where guests take a one-of-a-kind stroll under the waters to truly see how the animals live.
“It is a completely unique experience to be able to walk and be completely surrounded by water,” Edwards said.
Creatures of the Sea
Sea Life Orlando is home to seven varieties of sharks and more than 1,000 types of creatures, including fish, stingrays, a giant Pacific octopus, and two male rescue turtles. The turtles came to the aquarium after finding that they are not able to be released into the wild. Chely, named for his type of turtle, Chelonia mydas, lives in the Atlantic Ocean habitat and was injured by a boat.
“After their shells are damaged, it’s really difficult to release them back into the wild,” Edwards said.
Ted, a loggerhead sea turtle, resides in the Indian Ocean habitat. He is named after being one of the first sea turtles used to test at-sea certification trials for turtle excluder devices (TED), which are escape hatches in fishing nets that allow turtles to escape if they are accidentally trapped in a net. Ted was injured when caught in a net and treated at St. Joseph Bay in Florida’s panhandle. The treatment center tried to rehabilitate him, but he showed signs that he would not be able to survive in a natural habitat. Both of the sea turtles are on an emergency blood donor list, able to have blood drawn in the event a local turtle is in need.
For a more up-close and interactive experience, visitors can schedule a behind-the-scenes tour and learn about how the creatures are cared for, including preparation for feedings and a look at the quarantine area, where the animals learn how to adapt to aquarium life. The Discovery Experience goes even further, allowing guests to interact with one of the divers as well as see a feeding from the top of a tank. With several engaging exhibits, the opportunities for learning about sea life and the creatures that live there are endless.
Sea Life Orlando Aquarium is located at 8449 International Drive in Orlando. For more information, call 866-622-0607 or visit www.visitssealife.com/orlando. Florida residents receive a $5 discount off admission. ♠