Tampa is about to welcome new residents. Fortunately, they have already determined their housing situation.
The Florida Aquarium today announced a $40 million expansion plan that will bring several new exhibits to the aquatic center, including the West Coast’s first-ever California sea lions, African penguins and puffins.
The aquarium’s first-ever expansion project will consist of three phases, beginning in January 2023 and slated for completion in 2025.
Phase I, expected to be completed in 2023, will transform the Mosaic Center’s existing ballroom into a rotating, dynamic 3,700 square foot special exhibit hall. Phase II, scheduled for 2024, will add a rocky coastline, kelp forest and 45,000 gallon deep plunge pool habitat with puffins, Atlantic salmon and other large fish species.
Phase III, which is expected to wrap up the expansion plan in 2025, will bring a 200,000-gallon, three-space interconnected habitat to the outdoor plaza that will house sea lions and provide underwater views and overhead seating, as well as a a 39,500 gallon habitat for a colony of up to 30 African penguins.
Last year, seven penguins mysteriously died at the Florida Aquarium. The aquarium says this project will continue to help its commitment to preserving endangered species and conservation efforts.
“We are invigorating the Florida Aquarium by creating innovative and immersive habitats and exhibits, providing captivating guest experiences, and expanding our vibrant collection of animals that advances our commitment to saving wildlife and wild places,” said Roger Germann, President and CEO. “Today we take a big step forward in building the world-class aquarium that Tampa Bay deserves.”
The creative design of the expansion project will be led by renowned architectural design firm Space Haus, who also helped design The Shedd Aquarium, the National Aquarium of New Zealand and the Dallas and Kansas City Zoos.
The expansion project is the Florida Aquarium’s first since it opened in 1995 and is the result of historic visitor numbers and a growing market in recent years.