Sunday, April 29, 2012

Florida Trip - Oh, The Hugh Manatee

The next day after the dive, we took a day trip to Sarasota Florida to visit the MOTE Acquarium. In addition to being an Aquarium, MOTE is a research lab and rehabilitation facility for sea turtles, dolphins and other oceanic creatures. The kids have been interested in the Oceans and marine life so a trip to an aquarium to see Florida's marine life up close was a perfect day trip.

So after about an hour we arrived at MOTE. The facility is quite large and the docents and staff very friendly. Another cool benefit was a reduced admission fee as we are members of the Toledo Zoo and they've got a reciprocal membership arrangement, as do most zoos, aquariums etc, so if you go to these places a membership has lots of benefits.

The MOTE begins with a neat display of smaller fish life:

Then it moves on to squid and sharks:

The shark tank is open at the top and you can walk along it with only a rail separating you from the sharks for a closer look.

In a separate building, there are hugs loggerhead turtles, Manatees and a dolphin. The dolphin was a beach recovery, treated for severe sunburns and is kept as it has a liver problem and can't be released and be expected to survive.

The huge loggerheads are being tested for their vision and hearing and have been found to be able to respond to colored shapes and sounds.

We then went to see the Manatee tank.

One of the Manatees was named Hugh.

Very big and impressive creatures indeed. Manatees are predominantly vegetarian and they were busy snacking on lettuce when we first saw them.

There was also a pool where you could pet stingrays, and they feel like mushroom caps. They were behaving rather mischievously the day we visited, swimming close but then shifting to exactly out of the kid's arms reach as they went by. Eventually they settled down and the kids got to pat them.

So if you're near Sarasota, the MOTE aquarium is well worth a visit. Expect to spend a day and enjoy it.

We also stopped in Venice at Ciao Gelato, which serves the ne plus ultra of ice cream.

Not just good but wowza good ice cream, best ice cream evar. They make it on the premises, the store is clean, the staff friendly and again the ice cream is world-class. If you're ever in Venice you must go try some.

Then back to the condo for dinner, where we had a visitor on the balcony:

Afterwards, we walked on the beach to watch the sunset, and saw a pod of wild dolphins swim by, with one even leaping out of the water.

So it was a great day trip indeed.

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