Diving into the Gulf Stream at the Frost Museum of Science

Located in Downtown Miami, next door to the Perez Art Museum is the newly opened Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. There was quite the buildup of anticipation for the May 2017 opening, and over 25,000 people came to visit the first week! This $305 Million dollar project in downtown Miami is comprised of four buildings, which span 250,000 square feet of exhibits and showrooms including a planetarium and a killer 500,000-gallon aquarium!

We saw an article in Dan’s diving magazine Alert Diver about the Gulf Stream Exhibit outlining how they have managed to simulate the Gulf Stream currents in the aquarium and this got our attention. Only 30 minutes from home, we jumped in the car and headed out to see it on a Sunday afternoon. Traffic was light, and there was lots of parking right in the facility. There is a shared garage with the Perez Museum, and parking cost us 16$ for the afternoon. A little steep, but hey it’s downtown Miami and it would probably be double anywhere else.

Miami Dade residents get a 15% discount on the admission (a nice touch) that includes one of the three planetarium shows, which you choose when you get your tickets. We selected “Dynamic Earth” which describes our planet’s ecosystems and amazing resilience, but also gave some startling facts about global warming and man’s contribution to this. Are we going to spend the earth or save it, they ask? Lets opt for saving it! The show is spectacular, as you lie back and watch the circular screen you feel like you’re being hurtled into space and then underwater.  We would definitely love to see the other shows they put on here.

There are multiple buildings and multiple exhibits. We started with an interesting section on the human brain, and followed that up with one on giant freshwater fish (complete with replicas and actual skin samples). There were a number of other sections tailored more for kids (one sign even read 6 and younger) so while we glanced in (we’re young at heart!) we were anxious to see that big pool.

Some of our favorite exhibits were the ones in the aquarium. There were numerous display windows into the larger aquariums from all angles, some you could actually walk into a dome in the tank. Pretty cool.

Go inside and take a closer look!

Sprinkled throughout were smaller displays with jellyfish, lionfish, soft corals, reef fish, cuttlefish, and a myriad of other interesting creatures. All with just enough information, and lots of people around ready and happy to help. There is a small aviary on the top floor, and a series of ponds for kids to see rays, crocodiles, and the like. All these displays made us want to go diving.

The masterpiece of the aquarium for us was the amazing oculus setup at the bottom of the huge aquarium. At 13” thick and weighing 80,000 pounds, this ‘window’ lets you look up into the 500,000 gallon aquarium from the bottom and see the patrolling hammerhead sharks, rays and feisty mahi-mahi doing the rounds. They have created a strong current in here to mimic the Gulf Stream, which is quite the feat for an enclosed aquarium — it was amazing to see.

Admiring the hammerhead shark through the Oculus

We spent about three hours at the museum and aquarium. Those with kids would probably spend the full day, and I think you’d miss out if you spent less than two. It’s a worthwhile cause to support to keeping the Frost Museum of Science and Aquarium in Miami and we would encourage our local readers to go check it out if you haven’t already.

We also noticed that it was right next to the cruise port of Miami! Those visiting us on a cruise could definitely enjoy a few hours here as an excursion. Modern art lovers can bundle it with the Perez Art Museum in the adjoining building. We’ll be waving at anyone there next week as we head out on our cruise from Miami to the western Caribbean!

Port of Miami

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