TAMPA, Fla. — In order to fully enjoy the Florida Aquarium’s latest exhibit “Heart of the Sea,” we thought we'd take the heart of Spectrum Bay News 9 — an intern — and throw her in it.
(We’re not really throwing her in!)
Who’s the intern?
Jose’e Woble is a junior at the University of South Florida studying Mass Communications.
What is the “Heart of the Sea?”
It’s a 100,000 gallon saltwater habitat filled with more than 400 living beings, including some of the most treasured at the facility.
The habitat will serve as a rehabilitation home for injured sea turtles.
It’s also filled with coral growing stations.
Once the staghorn coral grows enough, specialists with place them on reefs that are under stress, all part of the aquarium’s conservation efforts.
Before Jose’e takes on the tank, Nonalee Davis, a Marine Operations Specialist explains the lay of the land. (Haha pardon the pun.)
The sea turtles might come up for air — we stay out of their way, Davis explains. The little bonnet head sharks are zippy and the hogfish is a favorite.
As Jose’e goes in, a sea turtle comes up for air just a few feet away from her.
Now completely immersed in the experience, she watches tarpon and stingrays swim by.
Those watching land-side will be able to interact with divers thanks to the multiple camera displays along the side of the habitat.
“There’s nothing like getting in the water with these charismatic animals, seeing them up close, learning, having one breathe on you — that makes you appreciate the animals more,” said Roger Germann, President & CEO of The Florida Aquarium.
Germann hopes this kind of experience will strengthen people’s resolve to protect the animals that live in our waters.
As for Jose’e, she highly recommends the experience.
What about the sea turtles? What are they like up close?
“They are way bigger than I expected and they are very friendly,” Jose’e says.
Guests can experience "Heart of the Sea" at the Florida Aquarium starting October 6.