Hannah Sampson –
Vacationer Lynny Ravitz and her nephew were heading for an interactive dolphin encounter at Miami Seaquarium on Wednesday when 10-year-old Jake Goldberg spotted something else that piqued his interest: a giant tank where fish, lobster and stingrays swarmed humans spewing bubbles from white helmets.
“My nephew said, ‘Oh, this looks cool,’ ” Ravitz said, “and we upgraded.”
That’s exactly what executives at the Seaquarium were hoping would happen when they added the Sea Trek Reef Encounter in late November.
Over the last several years, the 56-year-old attraction has sought to attract new customers — and revenue beyond the $39.95 general admission — by providing opportunities for guests to interact with sea creatures.
The Sea Trek experience costs $99, which includes admission, or $49 to add to the Dolphin Odyssey program. Guests — who must be at least 10 — are under water for 20 to 25 minutes, but the entire process takes about an hour and a half with orientation and preparation.
“The overwhelming theme is: This is not go, sit, watch and go away,” said general manager Andrew Hertz.
“Everyone wants to do more. … Everything we do here, we want to get people closer to the animals so they can gain a greater appreciation.”