Hanging with the spoonies

The roseate spoonbills that live at the Florida Aquarium have a big aviary to hang out in. Early in the morning if you get there when they first open, the spoonbills usually hang out right up front, at the edge of the water in the exhibit. It was quiet and they were running around feeding and squabbling over the best spots. As the aquarium gets busy the spoonbills fly up in the trees and nap. It’s cool to see these beautiful birds up close.

Big things swimming by.

I love seeing the big sting rays at the aquarium. It’s funny how they have faces underneath. I think that first one was smiling at me.

It’s fun to watch the kids go crazy over the sharks. You get to see them close up.

A turtle cruising by.

There’s something hypnotic about watching the fish swim by.

More fun from my September visit to the Florida Aquarium in Tampa.

Other stuff at the Florida Aquarium

It’s not often you can get close up to a ruddy duck or a wood duck. They are very different than the common mallards or muscovy ducks that most people see in their neighborhoods.

Turtles and alligators. The funny thing in the bottom picture is that the alligator has his foot on the other alligator’s head.

Scenes from the top deck of the Aquarium, looking down the channel and around the city. I know it looks like it was too pretty a day to be inside but it was so hot and humid that it was nice to spend the morning in air conditioning.

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Just keep swimming

Because I’m a member of the Tampa zoo, I get in free to the Florida Aquarium in September. Which works out perfect because by the time September comes around I’m tired of being outside in the heat and want to do something indoors. I get there right when it opens before the crowds cover the glass. I was using Auto mode on my camera with no flash since the flash would just put a big spotlight in the picture. And most of the exhibits don’t allow flash anyway. It’s too hard to bring a tripod in with even the smallest crowd. A lot of these were taken with my phone as well.

 

Seahorses are everyone’s favorite but it’s really hard to see them. They keep it dark in the room and no flash allowed. These were taken with my phone.

Always fun to see jellyfish floating upside down.

I call these boob jellyfish.

This little guy was so cute. He was very animated.

I took a ton of pictures since it was nice and cool inside so more to come. The Aquarium is fun until it’s crowded. When I left before noon it was wall to wall people and you had to wait to get close to the glass. I would suggest going during the week when school is in if you can to keep from bumping into kids.

 

Beautiful faces up close

It’s rare to get this close to roseate spoonbills. I see them occasionally in the ponds and ditches around work but they are usually far away. There are several that live in the aviary at the Florida Aquarium and they seem to be comfortable around the crowds. You can’t get close enough to touch them but closer than out in the wild. All are permanently injured with a wing or an eye missing and live here now. They develop more color in their faces as they get older during breeding season. These were all taken with my 200mm lens and cropped.

There are a few other birds there as well such as this ibis trying to eat something that doesn’t look like food.

Views from outside the aquarium.

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Indoor faces in the middle of August

It was too hot to be outside in the middle of August so I headed indoors to the Florida Aquarium. It was nice to walk around and take pictures in air conditioning. I cheated and took all of these in Auto program mode (with no flash) since the Aquarium was going to be way to crowded to be using a tripod. Even 10 minutes after the doors opened, kids were running into me. It was still a fun morning and I walked around for about 2 hours.

You can barely make out my reflection in the above. Even without using flash, there’s a slight light that shines for a second while focusing. Trying to use regular flash against this thick glass is crazy. You’re only going to get a big white light across your pictures. You also have to watch for shadows and reflections on the glass which is apparent in the above. I was able to keep other people’s reflections out of most of the pictures.

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Finding Nemo

Or “Blurry fish behind really thick glass.”  I took these all in “Auto with no flash” mode since I didn’t have a tripod and I didn’t want to use flash.  If you use flash you will just get a big bright white blob on in the picture from the reflection of the flash. So the easiest “cheat” way to do it is Auto with no flash.  The hardest shots to get are of the fish in the round exhibits since the round thick glass makes it much harder to get a clear shot. It was a fun morning to walk around in the Florida Aquarium in Tampa.  Too hot to be outside.

The big ones under water

You can get really close to the big swimmers under water at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. Turtles, sharks and sting rays swim right up to the glass. The sting rays look like they have happy faces when they swim up.

You can swim in the exhibit with the sharks. Not sure if that pole he’s holding would calm my fears. I’m sure they keep them well fed though.

Up close with a spoony

It’s not often you can get this close to a roseate spoonbill. These were taken at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa recently. These spoonbills are residents at the aquarium and live in a big aviary that you walk through. They are acclimated to people coming through and watching them live their lives.  Feeding, fighting and napping all day long. It’s like the spoonbill version of “The Truman Show” movie. Most of these spoonbills have some type of injury. It was fun to watch people see them for the first time and gasp at how pretty they are.

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Flying things at the Florida Aquarium

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This is the closest I’ll get to a hooded merganser. They are so skittish. The ones that float around in the channel behind my house take off if I open the back door. It’s interesting that his beak looks like it has mini teeth on the edge, almost like a crocodile snout.

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Ruddy duck floating around on top of the fish exhibit.

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I think this is a fulvous whistling duck. He was quacking at an ibis to get out of his spot.

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Spoony with an itch.

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Close up of a spoonbill living at the aquarium.

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They are very used to people so they came close to the edge of the exhibit.

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This little kildeer had his own private beach next to the stingrays.

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This must have been a lost sooty tern that was sick or injured and found a home here.

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Oh yeah, there is fish at the aquarium. Lots of fish.

More pictures from my fun pre-Christmas trip to the Florida Aquarium. I think I like the wetlands exhibit the best since they have birds there and you can see them really close. All of the birds were injured and unable to release back in the wild so now they live here.

Camera Critters