TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa Mayor Jane Castor joined the Florida Aquarium on Saturday to announce a new program that will allow people of a range of ages and abilities to experience underwater life.
SeaTREK is a guided underwater walking tour designed for people over the age of 10, no swimming skills needed. The 20 minute walk takes place in the aquarium’s 100,000 gallon Heart of the Sea exhibit.
Mayor Castor suited up alongside a group of children from Tampa Parks and Recreation on Saturday to give the new program a test-drive.
“I applaud The Florida Aquarium for reaching out to underserved communities and working to improve accessibility to our surrounding environment through programs like this,” Mayor Castor said. “While under water, you gain a new perspective and appreciation for nature and the world around us and that itself can be inspiring.”
“We are surrounded by water and wildlife, but life under the surface remains a mystery. Our new underwater interaction provides the rare opportunity for more people, regardless of their ability to swim, to experience the aquatic world from the ocean floor surrounded by charismatic sea life,” Roger Germann, President and CEO of The Florida Aquarium, said. “Equally as significant is the SeaTREK program allows us to engage people who may not have a positive relationship with water. It’s our aim to break down personal and cultural barriers and provide a positive in-water experience that inspires conservation of our natural world.”
According to the aquarium website, the SeaTREK experience is about an hour long, beginning with training and safety information, followed by about 20 minutes in the water. The aquarium said that during the experience, guests will be able to explore coral caves with hundreds of fish, spotted eagle rays, bonnethead sharks and a loggerhead sea turtle.
SeaTREK will be offered six times a day through Labor Day and will be available during all vacation and holiday weeks in the future. It will also be available every weekend throughout the year.
The Florida Aquarium said it will also be hosting monthly programming to engage people who have found previous underwater programming to be inaccessible. The aquarium said that though this program, it “strives to evoke the wonders of the ocean as they look to ensure an inclusive and accessible future”.