Texas State Aquarium

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Texas State Aquarium
Texas State Aquarium Exterior.jpg
The Texas State Aquarium
Date openedJuly 6, 1990[1]
LocationCorpus Christi, Texas, United States
Coordinates27°48′50″N 97°23′32″W / 27.81389°N 97.39222°W / 27.81389; -97.39222Coordinates: 27°48′50″N 97°23′32″W / 27.81389°N 97.39222°W / 27.81389; -97.39222
Land area6.3 acres (2.5 ha)[2]
Volume of largest tank400,000 US gal (1,500,000 l)

The Texas State Aquarium is a nonprofit aquarium located in Corpus Christi, Texas, United States. It is dedicated to promoting environmental conservation and rehabilitation of the wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico. It has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 1995. It is the largest aquarium in Texas and one of the largest aquariums in the United States.


Originally conceived by a coalition led by the Junior League of Corpus Christi and named the Gulf Coast Zoological and Botanical Society, the organization changed its name to the Corpus Christi Aquarium Association in 1978, and then to Texas State Aquarium Association in 1986 after the Texas State Legislature designated it the "Official Aquarium of Texas", although it would receive no state dollars.[2]

After more than 20 years of fundraising, planning, and building, the Texas State Aquarium opened its first exhibit to the public on July 6, 1990. In 1993, it became a federally permitted animal rehabilitation facility, and in 1995, it was accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).[2]

On May 13, 2017, the Texas State Aquarium opened Caribbean Journey, an expansion which doubled its size and added new exhibits including a 400,000-gallon shark exhibit and a jungle aviary as well as a 4D theater.

The current president and chief executive officer of the aquarium is Tom Schmid.[4]


The Maya Ruins in Caribbean Journey's jungle houses vampire bats and reptiles
Caribbean Jungle

Features flamingos, free-flying birds, a two-toed sloth, and other species in a naturally-lit jungle. Guests walk along a simulated jungle pathway and can look into the aquatic exhibits below.

H-E-B Caribbean Sea

This 400,000-US-gallon (1,500,000 l) aquatic exhibit contains sandbar sharks, stingrays, and other species. Guests can view the exhibit from the longest acrylic display window in North America or walk through an acrylic tunnel.

Coral Reef

Replicating the features of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef off the coast of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, the Coral Reef exhibit gives an immersive look at these incredible ecosystems and the colorful fish that call them home. Species include angelfish, goatfish, butterflyfish, and parrotfish.

Blue Hole

The 400,000-gallon H-E-B Caribbean Sea exhibits sandbar sharks among a replica shipwreck.

This immersive exhibit reveals a unique and often unseen aquatic habitat, the deep underwater caverns that can descend hundreds of feet below sea level. Guests can step inside an acrylic "bubble" to view this exhibit from a unique perspective.

Dolphin Bay

This 400,000-US-gallon (1,500,000 l) saltwater exhibit houses four Atlantic bottlenose dolphins: Liko, Schooner, Shadow and Kai. The Atlantic dolphins put on an educational dolphin presentation, two to three times per day (depending on the season), so that visitors may speak with trainers about how trainers interact with their dolphins as well as learn more about how to conserve and protect the world's oceans.

Eagle Pass

All of the raptors featured in this exhibit were rehabilitated at the Texas State Aquarium and cannot be released back into the wild. This exhibit includes a bald eagle named Grace.

Dolphin Bay displays four bottlenose dolphins from above and below the water.


This 800-US-gallon (3,000 l) exhibit contains a variety of jellyfish and sea nettle, most of which can be found in the Gulf of Mexico.

Flower Gardens

Replicating a coral reef, this 40,000-US-gallon (150,000 l) exhibit features Atlantic tarpon, green moray eels, and cownose stingrays.

Hawn Wild Flight Theater

These presentations feature a variety of trained birds including parrots, hawks, owls, and falcons. The Hawn Wild Flight Theater honors the Hawn family for their long-standing commitment to the aquarium's mission of wildlife education and conservation in South Texas. The theater was opened April 24, 2007.

Islands of Steel

Islands of Steel recreates the habitat formed around an oil platform. The 125,000-US-gallon (470,000 l) exhibit includes nurse sharks, amberjack, Atlantic tarpon, grouper, a barracuda, a sand tiger shark, and many other species that could be found in a naturally occurring habitat in the Gulf of Mexico.

Living Shores

Visitors can interact with hermit crabs, lightning whelks, and pencil urchins that reside in several touch pools at this exhibit.

Otter Creek

Two North American river otters reside at the aquarium and can be viewed interacting with one another and their trainers throughout the day.

Saving Sharks

Saving Sharks is an interactive, informative exhibition designed to capture the hearts and minds of would-be conservationists and lifelong shark fans, alike.

Stingray Lagoon

Visitors can touch Atlantic and cownose stingrays in the aquarium's largest outdoor touch pool.

Swamp Tales

Bo, a 11-foot (3.4 m) American alligator, and six species of freshwater turtles and tortoises reside in the newest exhibit at the aquarium.

Tortuga Cay

Visitors can view the rehabilitated and unreleasable sea turtles above and below the water at this exhibit. Tortugay Cay includes three green sea turtles (Squirt, Pickles, and Crush), one kemp's ridley sea turtle (Daisy), one hawksbill sea turtle (Hemingway), and a loggerhead sea turtle (Tiki).


In addition to regular tours, the Texas State Aquarium offers many other educational programs.[5]

Aquarium Discovery Programs

Aquarium Discover Programs allow schools to bring their students to learn about the Gulf of Mexico environment.

Aquavision – Distance Learning

For schools that are not able to tour the aquarium, Aquavision uses web-based and video conferencing technology to provide access to the animals and staff of the aquarium. Learning objectives are aligned with the Texas Education Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).


Overnights allow children to spend the night at the aquarium where they can experience behind-the-scenes tours of the aquarium.

Outreach Programs

Outreach programs allow staff members to come to schools and give presentations in the classroom.

Spring Break Mini-Camp

Spring Break Camp is designed to promote STEM exploration and discovery. Activities include paddleboating and canoeing at our SeaLab facility

Summer SeaCamp

SeaCamp is a weeklong camp to promote STEM exploration and discovery. Activities include fishing, aquarium visits, field activities, chatting with an ocean scientist, tracking a shark, and an overnight stay at the aquarium.

On television[edit]

The aquarium appears in the pilot episode of JAG, when Harmon Rabb Jr. has a flashback of when he was with his father as a child on board an aircraft carrier (the USS Lexington Museum is located nearby).


  1. ^ The Handbook of Texas Online: Texas State Aquarium
  2. ^ a b c "History". texasstateaquarium.org. Texas State Aquarium. Retrieved 31 July 2011.
  3. ^ "Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". aza.org. AZA. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  4. ^ The Loop: Under-Whelming
  5. ^ "Texas State Aquarium: Education". Retrieved 16 August 2015.

External links[edit]