Make us your home page

Tarpon Springs Aquarium a family friendly summer outing


Tucked away at the west end of Dodecanese Boulevard, past the Greek restaurants, natural sponge displays, and sightseeing cruises that mark the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, is a small but mighty aquatic zoo.

The Tarpon Springs Aquarium features a 120,000-gallon tank where large and amazing predators prowl a coral reef. Getting ready for Shark Week on the Discovery Channel? Narrated alligator- and shark-feeding shows provide unique opportunities to see the bad boys of the seas and rivers up close.

For a family-friendly admission charge of $5.75 per child and $7.75 for adults, visitors can pet a 125-pound Burmese python and peer right into the crabby face of Shrek, an alligator snapping turtle that looks like a small plated dinosaur.

Mary Hoskin of Hudson was visiting the fish and reptile resort with her husband, daughter and two grandchildren.

"We were looking for things to do that don't cost too much and this is fantastic for the price. The kids are having a spectacular afternoon and it's such a good learning experience."

Guests are encouraged to rub the osteoderm plates of a 3 ½-foot gator named Rufus while a trained staffer holds tight to make sure no one gets a free ear piercing.

Touch tanks are brimming with diamondback terrapin turtles, sea urchins and other amiable creatures that live in the brackish 80-degree water.

A dollar will buy a cup of shrimp to feed the stingrays. The soft and silky creatures have their barbs (bonelike spears with serrated edges) removed periodically for visitors' safety.

One of the tanks, covered with wire mesh, is home to baby nurse and cat sharks as well as an aggressive cubera snapper who is serving a time out for bad behavior.

Feed the babies shrimp on a stick if you dare but be prepared for their powerful sucking action. They will snatch the morsel and dispose of it in the blink of an eye.

Scott Konger, 54, opened the 6,400-square-foot facility in 1990. He met his wife, Jenni, shortly after, and they've been running it together ever since.

They have six children who help out too, including their daughter Paige, 19, an Oklahoma City University sophomore who assists during the summer.

On this day, Paige is the star of the dive show, tossing out food to make the tarpon leap to the surface and cradling a nurse shark to give it a tummy rub.

Placing her hand inside the mouth of Oscar, a hefty 125-pound goliath grouper, she runs her fingers run past several rows of needlelike teeth before she gives his tongue a tickle.

"That grouper has eaten three bonnethead sharks," said Paige's mother. "It's a little scary seeing her in the tank but she's grown up watching her father dive, so it's natural for her to want to do the same."

Contact Terri Bryce Reeves at

>>if you go

The Tarpon Springs Aquarium

The aquarium features a 120,000-gallon reef tank, feeding shows and touch pools.

Where: 850 Dodecanese Blvd.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Shark feeding times are at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Admission: $7.75 adults; $7 seniors (55 and up); $5.75 children (3 to 11); free for 2 and younger.

Details:; (727) 938-5378

Tarpon Springs Aquarium a family friendly summer outing 08/06/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 6:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Tuesday May 30


    Finding Neverland: The hit Broadway show follows the story behind playwright J.M. Barrie as he struggles to find inspiration to create Peter Pan, until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. 7:30 p.m., Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, …

    Mitchell Wray, Jordan Cole, Finn Faulconer and Ben Krieger as the Llewelyn Davies Boys in the National Tour of Finding Neverland. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  2. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  3. Restaurant review: Features Gastropub in Riverview is fine as movie theater fare, but unimpressive otherwise

    Food & Dining

    Movies aren't exactly dying. Despite all the sturm und drang of predictions that Netflix and streaming videos would kill the cinema, global box office receipts hit $38.6 billion in 2016, a 1 percent gain over the previous year. But that doesn't mean going to the cinema is precisely what it was a generation …

    Soft pretzels are displayed with a beer at the Features Gastropub in the Riverview 14 GDX  theater in Gibsonton, Fla. on Thursday, May 25, 2017.   The 5,900-square-foot Features Gastropub open in the . This element of the project is the brainchild of Philadelphia chef Brian Duffy, who appears frequently on NBC's The Today Show and the Spike TV show Bar Rescue
  4. From the food editor: I love that food is a huge part of Master of None's transcendent second season


    Deep into a late-night binge of Master of None, Aziz Ansari's Netflix series that returned for its second season May 12, I realized I was laying as far back on my couch as possible, blanket clutched up to my chin, eyebrows permanently raised.

    Dev (Aziz Ansari) and Arnold (Eric Wareheim) eat lunch in Modena, Italy, in the second season of "Master of None."
  5. Three 'MasterChef' contestants from the Tampa Bay area talk cooking inspiration and more


    When Gordon Ramsay's MasterChef begins its eighth season tonight, the Tampa Bay area will have three contestants to root for. A marketing director from Tampa, a dentist and Palm Harbor native, and an employee for a steel supply company are all trying to impress a trio of judges with their home-cooking skills.

    Jeff Philbin, from Tampa, left, Palm Harbor native Paola Annoni Patel, and Danny Flores, of Land 'O Lakes, will be competing on the season premiere of "Masterchef."