Wanna feed a Shark? As long as it is not my arm I am up for it. The Island of Marathon in the Florida Keys is home to The Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters. Opened in the Summer of 2014 Aquarium Encounters offers visitors an up-close and personal experience with the marine life that calls the Florida Keys home. This includes Sharks, Rays and myriads of fishes. What makes the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters different is that you have the chance to swim and feed the fishes, Rays and Sharks. How can I turn down this adventure?
When we arrive at Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, we head straight for the registration desk. Some of the group I’m with aren’t into it, but Jim and I are all for our Coral Reef Encounter. The quicker we pay and fill out the paperwork the quicker we can get in the water.
Jim and I have signed up for the Snorkeling version of this experience so that means we’ve got a few things to do before we can feed the fishes.
- Meet instructor at the front ticket window and receive/complete Encounter Paperwork
- Watch educational video about the Keys, National Marine Sanctuary, and what to expect during your experience in our exclusive aquarium
- Rinse/Change/Meet back at the tank and prepare for your Encounter
- Fish feeding and gear review with seasoned dive instructor
- Enter top platform of tank, get comfortable in the water and with dive rig
- Explore the main tank environment and interact with a variety of tropical fish species
- Post dive review, fill out questionnaire with instructions to pick up your free picture in the video area
We’ve watched the instructional video and now it is time to change into our wetsuits. Not the most flattering outfit I’ve worn….
Next up it is into the tank we go with our guide and instructor. Snorkel masks, gloves and plastic squeeze bottles filled with chopped up squid to feed the Rays.
Now it is time for us to swim over to the feeding location.
Under we go, a squeeze of the tube and the fish swarm us. It is absolutely safe, but man it is a bit disconcerting at first when you are surrounded by fish and Rays. Very cool though.
After we’ve fed the fish and Rays, it is time for us to move over to the other side of the tank that is separated from this side by a large plexiglass wall. It has a very tiny hole cut in it that allows us to pass Squid through to the other side. This is where we feed the Sharks. Completely safe and secure, but still exhilarating when you feel the Shark bite the Squid and pull it from your grasp.
We spent just over 30 minutes in the tank, yet it seemed to pass in seconds. Exhilarating and awesome this was a true highlight of my day, heck my week in the Florida Keys.
Afterwards, we explored the rest of the facility and ended up grabbing a burger and slice of Key Lime Pie to end the adventure.
There is plenty to see and do at the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters if you don’t want to hop in the tank and swim with the fishes, but I think you should go for it. Where and when will you ever get this chance again?