As they observe the vibrant exhibits of aquatic life inside the Miami Seaquarium, many guests don't realize that they are also walking through a movie set. In the onsite lagoon, bottlenose dolphins swim through waters once traversed by Flipper, who filmed television episodes and films at the venue. This aspect of the Seaquarium—along with its many conservation efforts, educational programs, and shows—underscores a united commitment to wildlife consciousness. Special opportunities, such as the dolphin encounter, also send people on underwater treks through the reef display, letting them swim with seals or giving them the chance to shake a dolphin's hand.
It's hard to pinpoint the biggest personality at Miami Seaquarium, but Lolita the killer whale—who performs daily alongside pacific white-sided dolphins—claims the title of heaviest, period. On the other end of the scale, macaws and cockatoos perch around the Tropical Wings section of the park, and endangered sea turtles lounge at Discovery Bay. Elsewhere, a watery playground and three-story ropes course keep legs from growing too wobbly after a trip to Shark Channel) or a smooch from a sea lion.
Half Price Tour Tickets’ knowledgeable guides orchestrate more than 30 diverse tours of Miami, the Everglades, Key West, and the ocean beyond. Most expeditions cater to adrenaline-fueled crowds with extreme pursuits, such as scuba diving, skydiving, and parasailing. The fleet of air-, water-, and landcraft grants access to remote locales, including the marshy Everglades and deep-sea-fishing hot spots, where fishing hooks play tug of war with sharks and submarine captains.
Everglades Holiday Park unveils the natural splendor of one of Earth's last undisturbed territories with invigorating airboat tours and interactive alligator presentations. Visitors to the untamed river of grass explore its wetlands and observe its animal residents, and tour guides keep encroaching gators at bay with pointed comments of historic and ecological significance. The powerful airboat fleet features a covered passenger vessel for all-weather observation and an innovative zephyr-harnessing propulsion system that allows boats to swiftly skim across the Everglades' grassy rivers while sneaking up on unsuspecting patches of spanish moss. The park is also home to Animal Planet's Gator Boys; most of the reality show's episodes are filmed here.
The park complements boat tours with 20-minute gator presentations that star a cast of live alligators and shed some light on nature's last remaining dinosaurs. The boat captains are always available for private charters, which can be stocked with food, beverages, and ice at the park's 24-hour general store before heading out for fishing expeditions or leisurely cruises through the glades.
Rocky the tiger, Chewy the camel, and a literal rescue of other animals such as alligators, chameleons, owls, and wolves are just a few of the critters that take up residence at the nonprofit Everglades Outpost Wildlife Refuge and Rescue. Though their pasts aren’t necessarily happy—all of the facility's animals are taken in due to neglect, improper care, or injury—the staff of loving volunteers ensures each story ends happily and each tail continues to wag as they revive and nurse native and exotic animals from all walks of life back to health. In addition to the refuge, which is open to the public, the Everglades Outpost Wildlife Refuge and Rescue also conducts educational events and outreach programs.
Like all dolphins, Elvis loves to chase fish, leap into the air, and paint abstract-expressionist artwork. He does, however, need a human to hand him a brush, which is where the Painting with Dolphins program comes in. This is just one of the initiatives at Dolphin Cove that reveals these marine mammals' fascinating behaviors. In a natural lagoon, trainers facilitate human-dolphin relations through encounters such as swimming with, snorkeling beside, or rubbing the belly of Elvis and his cohorts. The dolphins may also regale guests with antics such as sharing their favorite toys or showing off a new behavior. Dolphin Cove's additional services include the Trainer for a Day program and a live webcam, which was an idea Elvis brought from his background in IT.
Sail Fish Scuba owners Chris and Jennifer Kerr want their clients to be able to do it all, exploring the water above and below with the necessary equipment, skills, and know-how. Beginner and advanced scuba divers can begin or further their underwater educations, or head out on one of the guided reef and wreck dives in a number of locales. Snorkeling outings are ideal for more casual explorers, as no extensive training is needed for open-water dives, and guides snap photos of participants during the trip that they can show to all their envious camel friends. Other outings include guided kayak tours, or leisurely boat rides through the mangrove trees.