Advertisement
  1. Things to Do

Florida Aquarium opens swimming with the sharks to non-scuba certified visitors

The Florida Aquarium’s Dive With the Sharks program lets visitors get closer to the predators and other sea life.
Published Nov. 11, 2014

Now anyone age 9 or older can swim with the sharks at Florida Aquarium, not just certified scuba divers.

A new 30-minute experience at 1:15 and 3:30 p.m. daily called Shark Swim gives visitors an introduction to diving in an artificial reef home to massive sand tiger sharks, a sea turtle, barracudas, eels, stingrays and more than 1,600 fish.

A small scuba tank, regulator and flotation device keep four swimmers at a time just below the surface, guided with a long pole near the well-fed and uninterested 7-foot sharks.

"It does make you want to become scuba certified because it's so incredible to see," said aquarium marketing manager Katie Edmiston, who tested out the Shark Swim recently. "And that's the goal, to make people want to dive more, to become more aware of what's down there and become advocates of the ocean."

The shark bait, er, guests, will start off on the shallow side of the reef with stingrays, puffer fish, lobsters and tropical fish before heading over to the deep side to join the sand tiger sharks and other animals. That's when the guests will become the main attraction for visitors looking in from the gallery.

The divers get a mandatory education session to learn the do's and don'ts of diving with the ocean's predators. Basically, if you stay calm and leave them alone, they will do the same. And aquarium personnel are there with tools that can be used for defense if things get dicey.

The aquarium has been running its Dive With the Sharks program for more than 10 years for certified scuba divers, ages 15 and older, with no injuries, but this is the first time the program has been extended to those without certification.

It costs $100 per person, which includes aquarium admission for the diver.

For information about the aquarium, in Tampa's Channel district at 701 Channelside Drive, see flaquarium.org.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Suzanne Natzke, an artist and teacher with the Pasco Fine Arts Council, arranges her watercolor paintings for an upcoming exhibit, 'Moments in Time.' The exhibit will be held through Oct. 21 at the council's new gallery at Avalon Park West in Wesley Chapel. MICHELE MILLER  |  Michele Miller
    The countywide Council will exhibit work at the Avalon Park West community.
  2. The Tampa Bay Lightning has tapped Cigar City Brewing to bring its Jai Alai, Guayabera, and Florida Cracker beers to Amalie Arena as the team’s official craft beer partner. (Photo via Tampa Bay Lightning) Tampa Bay Lightning
    Cigar City also will move its popular annual Hunahpu’s Beer Festival to Amalie Arena starting next March.
  3. Pinellas County resident and bestselling author Lisa Unger. Courtesy of Jay Nolan
    Plus, Tampa’s Sulphur Springs Museum will host Raymond Arsenault for a discussion about ‘Arthur Ashe: A Life.’
  4. Cyclists make their way north at Main Street in Dunedin along the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail Tuesday, July 23, 2019. The trail runs from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs. There are several options for food and drinks along the trail. CHRIS URSO   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    From the breweries of Dunedin to the Tampa Riverwalk, these rides show off Tampa Bay’s character
  5. Local favorites, the Bearded Brothers, will once again perform at the 15th-annual Music & Motorcycles in downtown Zephyrhills. Ghaith Khder
    The one-day festival brings thousands to the historic downtown area
  6. Humorist Dave Barry's new book, "Lessons From Lucy." is about what he's learned from his dog. Jeffrey Salter
    It’s a power-packed lineup for the area’s signature book event.
  7. South Florida Bulls during a game against the Massachusetts Minutemen on Saturday October 6, 2018 at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst, MA. TRAVIS PENDERGRASS  |  South Florida
    The Bulls tackle a ranked foe at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium on Friday.
  8. Patrons are silhouetted against the entrance to The Hub. The iconic Tampa bar is celebrating its 70th year.
[CHRIS URSO | Times] CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    Patrons’ memories of the bar, and a definitive history, remain elusive.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement