Our first stop of the day was the dolphin tank.
An actual show was scheduled to start in about 20 minutes so we decided to head on out and grab some seats.
As we waited the dolphins played with a blue buoy moving it from one end of the tank to the other as the wind blew it back to its starting point almost the second they let go of it.
The boys watched from the front rail. The split view let them see the dolphins both above and below the water.
The dolphins were nice enough to swim by up close and personal at a nice slow speed as to give us a good look.
As we waited the seats filled up and before long the show started. The dolphins performed a variety of tricks while the trainers told us about the dolphins - how they are trained, what they eat, how old they are, etc.
They were even kind enough to pose for us. :)
The dolphins showed off playing with a variety of toys from rubber duckies to balls.
One showed off his jumping ability hitting a suspended ball target high above tank.
But the boys' favorite by far was when they raced around the tank.
It was funny actually given that at least one of the reasons we came was because Connor wanted to see "dolphin races."
I don't remember how it started, but I vaguely recall it wasn't long after we went to the car races. He's been asking it about every since.
The boys thoroughly enjoyed the dolphin show.
Their high flying acrobatics and tricks kept them sitting on the edge of their seats or standing the entire time.
There were three huge sea turtles swimming around the outdoor tank.
We were then surprised to glance over and see several birds across from the crocodile enclosure. Among them a bald eagle.
After checking the boys' wingspan we headed back towards the main stairs and found the stingray tank. There were three different varieties of stingrays in the tank ranging from 6 inches all the way up to about 2 feet across swimming continuous circles around the outer boundary as people reached in and petted them as they swam by.
Of course our two little water bugs had to check it out. They leaned over and reached as far as the could into the tank. Connor would have gone right on in with them if we had let him.
Even the slimy feel of the stingrays didn't deter them. In fact the only thing that gave them pause was when the stingrays came half way out of the water on the rocks in front of Ryan and we weren't sure if we should touch their noses and underside.
After two minutes or so where they must have pet every stingray in the enclosure at least twice we finally headed back inside to see the actual main part of the aquarium.
Ryan immediately found more stingrays and I could have sworn this one was following him all the way down the tank and came up like he wanted to be petted, too.
In the seahorse tank there was a neat little bubble area where the boys could go under the tank and look up inside of it to see all the sea horses.
We also saw lobsters, and a super bright orange starfish that looked more like art than a fish.
The boys weren't sure what to make of the lion fish either. Particularly when he puffed all his fins out.
But by far the coolest thing indoors was the big tank.
It was amazing just how big the fish were.
We could have easily sat here for hours watching them.
Looking for sightings of the sharks and watching the big fish swim around the pillars.
But we did eventually have to move on - to the frogs.
And a 13ft boa constrictor who was unusually active and exploring his tank.
In the same rain forest area we saw some birds and some somewhat tame looking piranha.
And of course, no aquarium visit would be complete without finding Nemo and Dory.
At the flower gardens we saw more sea turtles, and stingrays.
We would have stayed and watched them longer but a look at the clock showed it was well past 12pm already so we made a quick stop by the jellyfish before heading out to find lunch and head back to Sandfest to see how the sand sculptures had turned out.