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The Florida Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium .jpeg

The Florida Aquarium, a 250,000 sq. ft. non-profit institution located in Tampa's Channel District, is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums as a leader in conservation and education. With over 7,000 aquatic plants and animals from around the world on display, it first opened in 1995 as a privately funded entity before the City of Tampa assumed responsibility for its debt in 1999.


In 2017, Roger Germann was appointed President and CEO, coming with over 16 years' experience from Chicago's John G. Shedd Aquarium. On April 18th 2012, it also made it onto the Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places list compiled by AIA's Florida Chapter. Learn more about ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

History of The Florida Aquarium  

The Florida Aquarium found its new home in Channelside, Downtown Tampa, in 1992 when the Tampa City Council accepted its proposal. Upon opening in March 1995, however, ticket sales and attendance were much lower than expected and the institution quickly fell into debt. To alleviate the crisis, the City of Tampa assumed responsibility for the aquarium's mortgage and debt in 1999, leading to staff layoffs and demotions.

In spite of its rocky start, The Florida Aquarium managed to turn things around by incorporating entertainment into their mission. Today it remains an integral part of educating 100,000 school children each year while instilling strong messages about the importance of Florida's natural resources with fun and exciting activities.

Jeff Swanagan took over as CEO of the Florida Aquarium in 1998, and is credited for turning it around. He introduced several new attractions from all over the world, such as leafy sea dragons from Australia, albino alligators, snakes and bats, and even a sting ray that was nicknamed "Roseanne Barb", in an attempt to attract more visitors. His efforts paid off: he was able to pay off $3 million of debt by 2002 and increased attendance from 545,000 to a record high of 620,000 in the same year.

Thom Stork followed Swanagan's success as President and CEO and continued to grow the aquarium. In 2005 Explore A Shore was added - a 2-acre outdoor water adventure play area - and average time spent at the aquarium doubled due to its popularity. In 2008 Sea Hunt gallery was transformed into Ocean Commotion, adding location-aware 'smart wi-fi' which allowed guests access to additional content on their smartphones. Learn more about our business Coastal Outdoor.


Address: 701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602


Monday 9:30 AM–5 PM

Tuesday 9:30 AM–5 PM

Wednesday 9:30 AM–5 PM

Thursday 9:30 AM–5 PM

Friday 9:30 AM–5 PM

Saturday 9:30 AM–5 PM

Sunday 9:30 AM–5 PM

Phone: (813) 273-4000

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