Formerly known as the South Florida Museum, The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is located in Downtown Bradenton. It is the biggest cultural and natural history museum on the Gulf coast of Florida. Most people know the museum as the home for Snooty the Manatee. The oldest recorded Manatee ever. Sadly, Snooty passed away in 2017 at the incredible age of 69 years old. But don’t worry, you can still see other Manatees here in the Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat.
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature has tons of awesome exhibitions, an impressive planetarium, and of course, the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat.
Let’s begin with the first floor of the museum. Here is where you will find some incredible fossil evidence of the earliest animals to live in the state. The exhibits on the first floor include; Great Hall, Land of Change, Fabulous Florida Seas, Archaic Peoples and the Tallant Gallery. There is even a underwater viewing window that lets you see the manatees being cared for in the rehabilitation facility. The second floor features the River Heritage Hall, the Environmental Hall ,and the Visible Storage Gallery.
The digital full-dome planetarium theater is truly out of this world. Featuring a digital 25,000 watt Dolby 5.1 surround sound system and stadium like seating. It’s even the west coast of Florida’s premier astronomy education facility! Check out the planetarium show schedule on the museums website.
The most popular part of the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature would definitely be the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat. It consists of a giant medical pool, about 60,000 gallons of water, and some manatees of course. This manatee habitat serves as a second stage rehabilitation facility. This is where the manatees temporarily stay before being released back into the wild. The manatees end up at the habitat after they have received treatment. There is an exhibit area where the medical pool is which allows visitors to learn about Manatees, and view the ones in the pool from above and below the water. Believe me, it’s pretty awesome!