Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Things To Do

Tarpon Springs Aquarium a family friendly summer outing

TARPON SPRINGS

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 [email protected]

     
 
Comments

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBoxingSuper Bantamweights: Salgado vs. Diego De La Hoya10:30 p.m.ESPN2College basketballBethune-Cookman at USF7 p.m.820-AMValparaiso at Northwestern8 p.m.Big TenSouthern at Baylor8:30 p.m.ESPN2College volleyball, NCAA semifinalsNebraska vs. Penn...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Mason Ruffner’s career reached ‘Crossroads’ with this memorable tune

Mason Ruffner’s career reached ‘Crossroads’ with this memorable tune

Our '80s historian Kevin Wuench goes to the Deep South today with his music lesson: Like your AOR with a touch of Texas/Louisiana blues swamp? Then you should try some Mason Ruffner with his sweltering Gypsy Blood.Mason Ruffner grew up in Texas ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Plan your weekend Dec. 15-17: Katy Perry, boat parades, Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Plan your weekend Dec. 15-17: Katy Perry, boat parades, Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Plan your weekendSuperstarKaty Perry: In the ever-escalating arms race to be the most eye-popping pop star on the planet, sometimes you have to call in for backup. Even if you’re Katy Perry. When plotting her lavishly spectacular Witness Tour, which ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens dies at age 62

Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens dies at age 62

Pat DiNizio, the lead singer/guitarist for '80s power rockers The Smithereens, passed away Tuesday, the band announced overnight. He was 62."It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Pat DiNizio, lead singer and songwriter of the influ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
2018 Gasparilla Music Festival lineup: The Roots, Spoon, Father John Misty and more

2018 Gasparilla Music Festival lineup: The Roots, Spoon, Father John Misty and more

Got your tickets to the Gasparilla Music Festival yet? No? You better hurry up, because after today's initial lineup announcement, they might go fast.Tonight Show house band the Roots and indie rock heroes Father John Misty and Spoon top the initial ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Katy Perry, Jingle Ball, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and more

This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Katy Perry, Jingle Ball, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and more

WHERE’S THE PURPOSE? Katy PerryYou can pinpoint the exact moment when things started to unravel for Katy Perry’s Witness. It was 12:23 a.m. on Feb. 10, when she tweeted of her latest musical direction: "We gonna call this era Purposeful Pop." You kin...
Updated: 10 hours ago
The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week

The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week

PHANTOM REDUX: LOVE NEVER DIESTurns out, the Phantom survived that angry mob. We know that because the antihero of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera re-emerges in the 2010 sequel, Love Never Dies.It opens in 1907 New York, w...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Top things to do this week: Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Top things to do this week: Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

NEW HOPE: Star Wars partiesWith the opening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the force of fan excitement is strong, so of course there are Star Wars parties this weekend. The giant movie complex Riverview 14 GDX is having celebration with characters from...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 14

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Dec. 14

Santa and Ice Skating in St. Petersburg: Santa and his sleigh will be appearing on select nights in St. Petersburg for visits with area children. After visiting Santa, stick around for "glice" skating on a simulated ice rink. 6 p.m., North Straub Par...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Sounds of the Season opening act for Hernando Symphony Orchestra in 2017-18

Sounds of the Season opening act for Hernando Symphony Orchestra in 2017-18

BROOKSVILLE — Impressive guest performances, student nights and 25 new pieces of music are just a few of the exciting additions to the Hernando Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-18 season.And when the orchestra opens the season with the Sounds of the Season ...
Published: 12/13/17