Aquarium Encounters is an interactive outdoor aquarium, where visitors can walk through and see a variety of wildlife from the fascinating and biologically diverse Florida Keys and Caribbean. All of our exhibits are under large Tiki huts where guests are protected from the sun and rain. Aquarium Encounters is situated in Marathon at MM 53.1 Bayside, where you can enjoy the beautiful views of Florida Bay and Vaca Cut!
Our General Admission includes educated guided tours and animal feedings lead by our marine biologists every hour throughout the facility, viewing access to all exhibits and encounters, hands on access to three touch tanks where you can interact with a variety of species of stingrays and invertebrates (Stingray Cove, Nursery, and the Tide Pool Touch Tank). You can also check out our newest Alligator Alley Everglades exhibit, featuring American Alligators, our common snapping turtle, and several species of freshwater fish and turtles.
Our largest exhibit is the Coral Reef tank that holds 200,000 gallons of salt water and is split down the middle by two acrylic windows. One side is the “Coral Reef”, where you can see more than 1000 individual fish and more than 40 different species of tropical fish and rays on our coral reef display. On the adjacent side, known as the “Predator Reef”, there are predators such as sharks, rays, eels and a goliath grouper. You can get up close and personal with these predators by choosing the Coral Reef Encounter or you can get a good view from our large exterior windows. These predators get fed twice daily and you can even watch online from our webcams. Also near our predator tank, you’ll have to check out our newest tank, invasive Lionfish Tank, which will allow you to learn about this beautiful, yet venomous and invasive species while sagely viewing them through their acrylic tank.
To make your visit more memorable and adventurous you can book one of several encounters. During the Coral Reef Encounter, you can swim, touch, and feed the tropical fish with one of our certified diver instructors, plus feed “Spotty”, our Eagle Ray. Through our windows, you can feed our predators including: sharks, eels, and grouper. The Stingray Cove Encounter is led by our Marine Biologist where you sit waist deep and have different species of rays come up into your lap and you feed them at same time.
Come meet the tortoises and turtles that call Aquarium Encounters home. From across the ocean to our own backyard, we feature three species of tortoises that you can interact and feed during our scheduled animal feedings. We also have a family of Native Florida Box Turtles that can be visited at the Turtle and Tortoise Territory and we have several species of freshwater pond turtles that love to be fed as well!
Our newest encounter, Big Shark Bay, is gaining popularity because you get to feed and pet adult nurse sharks with the assistance of our Marine Biologist while staying dry! The Nursery Encounter is a great dry encounter for our younger guests that will enable them to feel comfortable feeding and interacting with juvenile and smaller species of stingrays. The Lagoon Snorkel Encounter is supervised by a certified dive instructor as you snorkel in a natural lagoon habitat with hundreds of tropical fish and local intertidal wildlife. All encounters occur on-site and we will provide all necessary equipment, you’ll just need a swimsuit. During your encounters, our photo shop will be taking photos (except for Lagoon Encounter), so that you will be able to take those memories home to share with family and friends.
Aquarium Encounters also includes Eagle Ray Café, where guests can grab a bite to eat or a refreshing beverage. We have a full menu that includes beer, wine, and as always a delicious, daily special! It is definitely a great place to relax and enjoy the views of Vaca Cut.
Looking for a unique venue for your next event? Aquarium Encounters can be just the place! We offer a variety of options to suit the event of your dreams, such as: birthdays, rehearsal dinners, weddings, and corporate events. Have your family and friends gather around with beautiful scenery showcasing a variety of different species of tropical fish, rays and sharks.
Aquarium Encounters is open 365 days a year from 9 AM to 5 PM and is located at Mile Marker 53.1. If you would like more information about exhibit sponsorship or group rates contact: Dolores@floridakeysaquariumencounters.com. We are located on the west side of the Vaca Cut Bridge at 11710 Overseas Highway in Marathon; phone 305.407.3262, Ext. 2 or on the Web @www.floridakeysaquariumencounters.com