Stillll going on about our Florida trip. One more post (after this) and then I’m done I promise. On Wednesday after our beach day we decided to check out the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota. It’s a small non-profit aquarium that is also a working marine lab as well so they do a ton of research and programs there and it’s all very science-y and educational. They have staff at every exhibit who you can talk to and ask questions.
I feel like this eel is saying “heyyyy girllllll”
I loved the sea turtle conservation area. This guy was GINORMOUS and kept popping his head out of the water to say hi.
All the sea turtles living there are being treated for illnesses or injuries and will be released once they are rehabilitated. Except for the one above, I believe he is blind from an injury and would no longer be able to survive in the wild. Another smaller sea turtle, Squirt, had been brought to the aquarium with injuries because he had been hit by a boat propeller, poor guy.
There is also a sea turtle hatching hospital there – hatching sea turtles on the Gulf of Mexico beaches may need some medical care before they’re able to survive, so they’re treated in the hospital and then returned to the wild when they’re healthy. No baby turtles this time of year unfortunately. It would have taken me back to my youth when I used to catch baby snapping turtles in the swamp near my house and make turtle homes for them until they got too big and attempted to bite off my finger. Ah the good old days.
The sea turtles were definitely a highlight but he manatees were THE highlight.
I’ve never seen one up close before! There were two, Hugh and Buffett. I loved this guy, but he definitely had his eye on Evan.
I am still laughing at that video. I don’t know if he forgot there was glass there or what was going on. Just a manateeser. Apparently Hugh and Buffett are the only manatees in the world trained to participate in special research projects to understand how manatees perceive their natural environment.
They’re pretty awesome.
They look like big snugglers.
There’s also a shark exhibit, jellyfish, reefs, stingrays (that you can touch!) and otters (although they weren’t there when we were, which was disappointing). And some rare Pokemon there as well, I caught my first Tangela! Florida really rejuvenated the Poke hunting for me, I think ’cause Paula and Fabian are big players. They got me right back into it. Anyway, it was a really cute small aquarium and a good way to spend a couple hours.
After the aquarium we picked up Checkers burgers (don’t judge) and then went to the condo’s pool area. It’s quite nice!
And totally empty during the day. We leisured around there for a while before it was time to get ready for dinner. We were going to the Anna Maria Oyster Bar! Another spot we hit last time we were in Bradenton and I really liked it the last time, but I have to say that this time I was a bit less than enthused… I have discovered since then that I really love oysters so we started with the baked garlic parmesan ones.
And I loved them. They were delicious. I wish I stopped there though. My main wasn’t great.
I got the cucumber dill salmon and it was just alright, but the rice tasted like the Uncle Ben’s instant rice that you just add a spoonful of water to and heat up in the microwave still in the package. I wasn’t a fan. Evan got the crab cakes and didn’t love them either. Ah well. Maybe it was an off night or we just ordered the wrong thing. I remember just DYING for their pasta last time. My wine was good though, so that and the oysters were my saviour.
After dinner we didn’t want the night to end so we went to Smugglers Cove for some mini-golfing action.
It’s more exciting than your regular mini golfing place ’cause it has live gators!
Just chillin’. I wonder if they like their life there, or if they’d rather live in Black Hammock the ultimate gator sanctuary (Black Hammock would be my choice personally).
Annnnd once again we came here last time, and I won! I was not so lucky this time. Evan was on fire.
But it was a good time.
Highly recommend both Smugglers Cove and the Mote Marine Aquarium if you’re ever in the area!