The Key West aquarium is one of Key West’s oldest tourist attractions. First opened in the winter of 1935, the aquarium had a bright future until the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 hit the islands and destroyed the overseas railroad and for awhile Keys tourism with it. For a time, the building served as a gun range for the US military. But in the mid 1940’s the aquarium reopened and it has been a popular attraction ever since.
Throughout the years many improvements were made to the building and to the exhibits, updating with the times. Today, the aquarium has some amazing exhibits, including American Alligator, Atlantic Shores, Jellyfish, Stingray Bay, Shark Feeding, and Touch Tank.
The American Alligator exhibit was one of my favorites. The baby alligators on display are on loan from the Alligator Farm in Homestead. When they alligators reach a certain size they are returned to the farm and swapped for babies. The Alligator room not only features these cute reptiles, but there is also a plethora of information about the American Alligator that you can read and be educated through.
While the Alligator exhibit was one of my favorites, the Atlantic Shores Exhibit was the most impressive of this little aquarium. It is an actual living red mangrove ecosystem that showcases the waters of the Florida Keys and why the mangroves are so important to the local environment. Local sport fish such as tarpon and permit along with tropical species like angelfish and parrotfish call this mangrove ecosystem home. Green sea turtles and nurse sharks can also be found enjoying their days in this exhibit.
The Jellyfish exhibit was very small, but the dark background and bright lighting made for a very cool viewing station for these gelatinous creatures of the sea.
The Stingray Bay allows for visitors to touch and feed the stingrays as these creatures are pretty docile and do not present a danger.
I always seem to miss the shark feedings, but they are offered daily at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, and 4:30pm so plan your visit accordingly!
And the Touch Tank is filled with all different types of species that you can touch and photograph for an amazing memory. Sea stars were so cute and my favorite in this display, but there were also conchs, urchins, cucumbers, horseshoe crabs, and hermit crabs.
In addition to these exhibits, there are many other sea creatures featured. Our group voted the scariest as the Moray Eel. Yikes! Seahorses were another group favorite. And other local fish and other sea life like corals, lobsters, pinfish, jacks, french grunts, and many others that I have now forgotten can all be found in one of the many displays.
Visitors to the aquarium can opt to take a tour or they can explore on their own. And this may be the only aquarium that is dog friendly (as long as they are leashed). I am betting that Indiana Bones is pretty mad at me right now for not bringing him along!
So is you are visiting Key West come check out the aquarium which is opened 365 days a year!
Be sure to keep up with my blog for information about Key West. From its long history to what is happening right now!
Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West, be sure to read my other restaurant reviews; check out our restaurant review section of this blog as well as our previous restaurant reviews.
And to see what is happening on the island during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.
Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!