Are you familiar with The Great Aquarium War of 2013? Probably not, as it is not on Wikipedia yet! Yes, aquariums get in conflicts too.
Down south where America dips its land-leg into the Atlantic, a battle waged in Tampa Bay between the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the Florida Aquarium. The conflict started when the Clearwater Marine Aquarium grew ambitious, as does most conflicts. Leaders announced plans to build a state-of-the-art facility in downtown Clearwater. Sounds good, right? The Florida Aquarium disagreed, its CEO believing the plan to be economically ludicrous. Two excellent aquariums that close to one another? They would be competing for patrons and dollars, among other things.
The conflict escalated when Florida Aquarium’s CEO attended a Clearwater City Council meeting and caused a bit of a ruckus! Now it seems that cooler heads are prevailing and leaders on both sides are beginning to collaborate, even bringing in a third aquarium – St. Petersburg’s Pier Aquarium.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s CEO David Yates said, “We could market the Tampa Bay region as the aquarium capital of the world.” What started as the ambitions of one aquarium has transformed into the collective ambitions of three aquariums as well as an entire region! Each aquarium will focus on a particular specialty, so no aquarium in the area will be the same. Although the collaboration is exciting, as each aquarium has major plans set in motion, there are some skeptics.
In the article, “Aquarium Leaders in Tampa Area Declare Truce,” Mike Brassfield of the Tampa Bay Times writes, “If the Clearwater group is able to follow through on its plans, the Tampa Bay region may soon be testing the limits how many major aquariums one tourist destination can support.” While each aquarium will be a different experience for the tourist, do tourists want to spend money on visiting three aquariums? We will have to wait for an answer.
The Great Aquarium War of 2013 may be over, but The Great Tourist War has only just begun. What do you think?
For more information on the Tampa Bay aquarium situation, you can find Brassfield’s article here.
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