Tampa Aquarium/Dolphin Encounter

Our very last day in Florida it turned out hubby didn’t have to work.  Thought about going to the beach again, came very close to that in fact, but the beach was west, and our flight out the following morning was east.  I’d heard the Tampa Aquarium was one of the top rated aquariums in the country.  How do you feel about that?  And look, you can take a boat out into the bay to see dolphins.  I think the dolphins sold it to him.

I gotta say, I’m not a huge aquarium fan – I’ll take a zoo over fish any day!!!  But it was on the way and it sounded like a great way to spend a few hours before we made our way east towards the airport.  The aquarium itself was pretty cool.  You start on the second floor and kind of wind your way around and down under the exhibits that are quite large and diverse.  There were several sharks, jellyfish, seahorses (now there’s something you don’t see everyday), and stingrays to name just a few.  My camera doesn’t behave well with high ISOs so I found it impossible to shoot any decent pictures due to the dimness.  I was really jealous of the people with iPhones shooting gorgeous shots just by pressing their phones up to the glass!!

But the Dolphin Encounter was far and away the highlight of the trip.  There are over 500 bottlenose dolphins living in Tampa Bay.  We ended up seeing two groups – the first had at least six dolphins dancing around our boat, the second group was 2-3 dolphins.  My circular polarizer certainly got a workout with all the water and bright sunshine everywhere.  Shooting dolphins is tough – they are quick!!  It became an exercise in guessing where they’ll be and shooting as many frames as possible and just hope and pray something comes out.  I’m not thrilled with what I got because I didn’t get any faces.  The dolphins were just too quick.

If you’re into fish and other aquatic life then I would recommend the Tampa Aquarium.  If you’re into dolphins then the Dolphin Encounter by itself is worth the price of admission.

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