Earlier this year the St. Petersburg Pier Aquarium announced that after 22 years, it would be moving to John’s Pass Village in Madeira Beach, a move that provides beach vacationers yet another attraction within walking distance from area hotels, and should bolster the economy of Tampa Bay’s beaches.
The name of the new aquarium will be Secrets of the Sea and is scheduled to open in December of 2012. The aquarium will focus more on providing a larger, more interactive learning experience for visitors with state-of-the-art technology. It also provides vacationers with an easier means of getting there.
Before, if you were staying on St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, or any of the other Pinellas beaches and wanted to visit the Pier aquarium, you would have to take a 20-minute cab or trolly ride each way to go downtown. Now, it’s a hop and a skip away, in a pedestrian-friendly, safer area, not to mention it’s much closer to the natural habitat where these animals live and provides more flexibility, should the aquarium wish to expand again.
John’s Pass Village already features plenty of shopping, dining, and recreation, including Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Hooters, Bronze Lady, and Hubbard’s Marina. Visitors can come to shop, grab a bite to eat, rent jetskis, go on a fishing excursion, or even take a ride on a real, live pirate ship. Add in a visit to the aquarium and some ice cream or the coffee shop, and visitors have a full day on the calendar.
Attractions at the $ 5-million aquarium include eight large aquariums, five galleries and exhibits, and interactive “Mystery Stations.” Visitors can learn about the local marine and aquatic life in the Tampa Bay area including coral reefs, learn about the impact of sportfishing and restoration of commercial species, lobsters and crabs, mangrove systems, endangered fish, moon jellyfish, cat-sharks, and a touch tank, where visitors can actually touch stingrays.
The two-story, 12,500 square foot aquarium will be staffed by scientists from 14 organizations. The man-power behind this aquarium and the people who have put it together include 1,600 experts on aquatic and marine life, which should also increase the prestige and profile of the aquarium.
John’s Pass Village is located in Pinellas County just minutes from Treasure Island, St. Pete Beach, and Redington Beach. It is also within walking distance of several Madeira Beach condos and Madeira Beach vacation rentals.