Image courtesy Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Living with Whales (and Dolphins, too) at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

You know that story about the Cape Cod lobsterman who got swallowed — and promptly spit out — by a humpback whale?

Now you can get the same, um, thrill! Not the actual Jonah-inside-the-whale experience exactly, but the next best, or probably the best alternative: a visit to Whales: Living with Giants at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Thanks to a state-of-the-art Virtual Reality theater, visitors to the exhibition assume the role of marine biologists, getting up close and personal with humpbacks and other underwater wildlife. And to get a visceral sense of just how big these awesome mammals can be, you can also walk through a life-sized replica of the mouth of a giant blue whale. (Much more pleasant than actually being swallowed.)

Whales: Living with Giants occupies 20,000 square feet of CMA’s new visitor center, which opened In October 2020 as part of the aquarium’s $80 million expansion project. The expansion also encompasses a state-of-the-art education center, a chef-inspired café, and a 1.5 million-gallon dolphin habitat.

And speaking of dolphins, you can celebrate the aquarium’s most famous resident, Winter the movie-star dolphin, and CMA’s ongoing mission to rescue and rehab marine life, at an event on Friday night. Wine & Winter: A Fine Art Experience will feature food and wine tastings, live music and painting, and the chance to browse fine art while experiencing the views from Dolphin Terrace and the aquarium’s newly expanded interior.

Whales: Living with Giants, through Aug. 31. Wine & Winter, Fri. June 18, 6:30-9 p.m. Clearwater Marine Aquarium, 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater, cmaquarium.org, 727-441-1790.

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