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Miami Seaquarium is an old facility with small concrete enclosures that are uninspiring. My family and I did not enjoy ourselves here, even though we tried hard to since the admission cost a total of $168. Upon entering, we walk through a plaza with souvenir shops and piped-in pop music to a concrete dolphin enclosure. It's very loud inside the building that houses the tank and we get the feeling that we want to get out of there. Hopefully the dolphins can not hear this echoing noise all day too, since they are particularly sensitive to noise and can become stressed and sickened by such an environment. Adjacent to the dolphin enclosure is a reef enclosure with murky water and some fishes. It too is very loud inside.
Next we walk through a nice landscaped area to the manatee exhibit. Now our stomachs are really turning as we see these gigantic animals in a tiny bathtub-like tank. Three of them are in there and when they try to swim they come immediately to the opposite wall, preventing them from moving much at all. This is very sad and my kids feel very bad about this.
By now, I am feeling surprised that such an outdated establishment exists in a modern, forward-thinking city like Miami. Since the animals seem so mistreated, I take my daughter to the pirate-ship playground for a break from the animal areas.
The pirate-ship playground has water guns that kids can spray at each other. There are two toddler-sized playgrounds on either side of the pirate ship. The pirate ship is too chaotic for most kids, since there are kids shooting water guns in a small space. The toddler-sized playgrounds are nice to stop at for a while. There is no shade but there is a lovely breeze off the bay.
The best part of the seaquarium is the turtle and alligator enclosure. Here we walk on an attractive wooden boardwalk through a tropical jungle to a mangrove area where turtles and alligators have a decent amount of room to wander. It's a pretty, natural setting and much more what I'd expect from a modern zoo or aquarium than the other areas of the seaquarium.
Food at the aquarium is very expensive. We spent $8.50 for two bottles of water and a fruit cup.
If you visit the seaquarium, skip the Killer Whale show. Lower attendance at this show will tell the aquarium how people feel about orcas in captivity. The orca currently at the seaquarium used to have a mate, Hugo- this mate committed suicide by repeatedly bashing his head against the tank wall. Lolita is currently in the smallest whale tank in northern America. She was captured in Puget Sound where her 85-year-old mother and the rest of her family still live. Read the news story here.
I do not recommend a visit to the seaquarium. Spend your money instead on an airboat ride such as nearby (38 mins by car) Coopertown to see alligators in a real setting, or walk the boardwalk at a spring (Blue Spring in DeLand is gorgeous) or inlet where you can see manatees swimming. This is far more exhilarating for kids (and adults), and a better life for the animals too.
Or for a wonderful (and less expensive) aquarium experience, visit Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center on Hutchinson Island in Stuart. Further away, Florida Aquarium in Tampa is gorgeous.
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From Highway 95 or US Hwy 1, take Highway 913 to Key Biscayne and the Rickenbacker Causeway. Follow the road until you see the seaquarium on your right. There is plenty of parking, which costs $8 in cash to enter.
Admission to the seaquarium is $40 per adults and children over nine years old, and $30 for children aged 3-9. This is way too much! Save your money and use it on one of Florida's wonderful airboat or tourboat attractions.
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Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.