The Cretaquarium project was conceived by employees of the former Institute of Marine Biology of Crete (IMBC) to create the first large aquarium in Greece, as part of a marine park for research, education, culture and recreation. Its construction was co-financed by the European Investment Bank and the Greek state. Cretaquarium first opened its doors in December 2005 and went through a major expansion during the winter of 2008-9, when 25 new tanks were installed. The aquarium is currently operated by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, a public research institution. Its exhibits focus on the marine fauna of the Mediterranean region and include sea organisms from over 250 species in more than 60 tanks.