TAMPA, Fla.—The Florida Aquarium will soon to be home to an exhibit where you can touch moon jellies. Moon Bay is an interactive touch experience that opens at the aquarium on June 8 for World Oceans Day. It is one of four exhibits of its kind in the United States.
“We always want to be able to engage people,” said Kari Goetz, Vice President of External Relations. “We want to be able to give them the opportunity to literally reach out and touch nature. And this was a really great opportunity to do that.”
Moon jellies (mistakenly called ‘jellyfish’) get their name form their translucent moon-shaped bells. Like all jellies, they are not fish—they have no brain, heart or bones, making the term ‘jellyfish’ inaccurate.
Moon Bay is a 1,200-gallon habitat with two touch pools located in the 1st floor lobby of the aquarium. An acrylic sphere full of moon jellies and a digitally mapped projection display with fun facts and jelly trivia round out the exhibit.
Guests can learn about moon jellies from aquarium educators as they watch their translucent bodies ‘glow’ from the color-changing lighting that shines through the habitat. The safest way to touch a moon jelly is with two fingers gently on the bell, or upper curved part of a jelly’s body.
If you’re worried about getting stung, the aquarium notes that moon jellies are very mild.
“The coolest thing about them is that they have a very minor, non-distinguishable sting,” said Goetz. “You don’t have anything to worry about.”
Goetz also remarked on how the exhibit teaches us a lot about how we treat our oceans.
“When you look at our moon jellies, they look a lot like plastic bags that might be floating in the oceans. And that's why when we pollute, we do a disservice to the ocean because we have sea turtles that love to eat things like our moon jellies, and they’ll eat a plastic bag instead,” Goetz said.
Moon Bay is The Florida Aquarium’s second major exhibit to open in the past year after it’s debut of Heart of the Sea.
To buy tickets for the aquarium, click here.