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Fodor's South Florida 2014
Mote Aquarium Review
The latest edition to this world-class marine research facility is a handful of South African penguins, whose daily feasting you are free to observe. Another key feature here is something not so cuddly—the preserved body of a giant squid, which is one of the most mysterious and rare marine species out there. A 135,000-gallon shark tank lets you view various types of sharks from above and below the surface. Other tanks show off eels, rays, and other marine creatures native to the area. There's also a touch tank where you can get friendly with horseshoe crabs, conchs, and other creatures. Hugh and Buffett are the resident manatees and, though not as venerable as Snooty at the Parker Manatee Aquarium, they have lived here since 1996 as part of a research program. There's also a permanent sea-turtle exhibit. Sarasota Bay Explorers offers boat tours from the museum's dock (reservations required), and a combination ticket that includes both admission into the museum and the boat tour is available.
Sarasota Bay Explorers. Many visitors to the Mote Aquarium take the 105-minute boat trip onto Sarasota Bay. Conducted by Sarasota Bay Explorers, all boat trips are done in conjunction with the aquarium and leave from the aquarium's dock. The crew brings marine life on board, explains what it is, and throws it back to swim away. You are almost guaranteed to see bottlenose dolphins. Reservations are recommended. You can also charter a power or sailboat or take a guided kayak or nature tour. 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., 34236. 941/388–4200. www.sarasotabayexplorers.com. Boat tour $27, kayak tour $55, nature tour $45; call for charter prices. Tours daily at 11, 1:30, and 4 (reservations required).
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