Florida on a Tankful: Be a VIP at the Florida Aquarium

By Scott Fais, Feature Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, April 16, 2017, 10:52 AM EDT

"Look at the stingray!" says a small visitor looking into the half million gallon tank at The Florida Aquarium.

The Florida Aquarium in Channelside allows excited visitors to come face-to-face with the creatures of Florida's coastline.

"Two big puffers right now,” exclaimed Eric Hoveland, the associate curator of the Florida Aquarium.

Several behind the scenes tours unlock closed doors here.

"You might catch some feedings going on, animals out getting enrichment,” Eric said, standing under the rafters of the massive aquarium.

What's hidden from view in the half-million gallon aquarium below is in plain sight above the habitat on tour.

"So much of what we do is right out there with the guest,” Eric said about the tour that offers a peek inside the facility.

From above, you can observe "Flip," a rescued turtle stretching almost five feet. On the rooftop awaits a green house.

“We are in 'The Coral Farm,” Eric said from inside the glass structure, that serves as a nursery full of staghorn coral.

"They look like antlers on a deer!” Eric demonstrated using his hands to create deer antlers above his head.

"Out in the wild, these corals, unfortunately, their numbers have really declined,” Eric said about the coral.

Eric said he found success in breeding new coral.

"It's the only example of its kind in the country,” he said of the orange blob.

Not all the animals in this behind-the-scenes tour are wet. Inside the learning center, you'll find creatures that like to slither.”

Say hello to the Everglades Rat Snake named ‘Snickers.’

"Should we be leery of these guys? Should we use caution?” Scott asked.

"The vast majority of snakes in Florida are non-venomous,” Eric confirmed. "They are harmless in that sense."

Eric says, every creature like Snickers, affects our big blue planet.

"Everything from the fish, to the corals, to the turtles, to the sharks, how they are all inner-related, and how healthy oceans mean a healthy world, right down to the air that we breathe."

Tankful on Television:
Catch Florida travel stories like the one above on Television four days a week across Central Florida. The award-winning Florida on a Tankful with Scott Fais airs on News 13 Thursday through Sunday. See new segments in the Bay Area as well on Bay News 9. Stories air beginning at 6 a.m. on both channels as a Spectrum exclusive.