Public aquarium

A public aquarium (plural: public aquaria or public aquariums) is the aquatic counterpart of a zoo, which houses living aquatic animal and plant specimens for public viewing. Most public aquariums feature tanks larger than those kept by home aquarists, as well as smaller tanks. Since the first public aquariums were built in the mid-19th century, they have become popular and their numbers have increased. Most modern accredited aquariums stress conservation issues and educating the public.[2]

DubaiMallAquariumDSC 7260
The main aquarium at Dubai Mall Aquarium
A 320,000-US-gallon (1,200,000 L)[1] kelp forest aquarium at Monterey Bay Aquarium in California


Detroit aquarium 1890-1910
Various aquariums at the Belle Isle Aquarium in Detroit, Michigan c. 1900
Aqwa stingray
A stingray at the Aquarium of Western Australia, Australia's largest public aquarium
Hyogo ikesu
An early aquarium in Japan in the 18th century

The first public aquarium was opened in London Zoo in May 1853; the Fish House, as it came to be known, was constructed much like a greenhouse.[3] P.T. Barnum quickly followed in 1856 with the first American aquarium as part of his established Barnum's American Museum, which was located on Broadway in New York City before it burned down.[3] In 1859, the Aquarial Gardens were founded in Boston.[3] A number of aquariums then opened in Europe, such as the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris and the Viennese Aquarium Salon (both founded 1860), the Marine Aquarium Temple as part of the Zoological Garden in Hamburg (1864), as well as aquariums in Berlin (1869) and Brighton (1872).[3]

The old Berlin Aquarium opened in 1869. The building site was to be Unter den Linden (along a major avenue), in the centre of town, not at the Berlin Zoo. The aquarium's first director, Alfred Brehm, former director of the Hamburg Zoo from 1863 to 1866, served until 1874.[4] With its emphasis on education, the public aquarium was designed like a grotto, part of it made of natural rock. The Geologische Grotte depicted "the strata of the earth's crust". The grotto also featured birds and pools for seals. The Aquarium Unter den Linden was a three-story building. Machinery and water tanks were on the ground floor, aquarium basins for the fish on the first floor. Because of Brehm's special interest in birds, a huge aviary, with cages for mammals placed around it, was located on the second floor. The facility closed in 1910.[5]

The Artis aquarium at Amsterdam Zoo was constructed inside a Victorian building in 1882, and was renovated in 1997. At the end of the 19th century the Artis aquarium was considered state-of-the-art, as it was again at the end of the 20th century.[6]

Prior to its closing on September 30, 2013, the oldest American aquarium was the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C., founded in 1873.[7] This was followed by the opening of other public aquariums: San Francisco (Woodward's Gardens, 1873–1890), Woods Hole (Woods Hole Science Aquarium, 1885), New York (New York Aquarium, 1896–present), La Jolla (Scripps, 1903), Honolulu (Waikiki Aquarium, 1904–present), Detroit (Belle Isle Aquarium, 1904–2005, 2012–Present), Philadelphia (Philadelphia Aquarium, 1911–1962), San Francisco (Steinhart Aquarium, 1923), Chicago (Shedd Aquarium, 1929). For many years, the Shedd Aquarium was the largest aquarium in the United States until the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta opened 2005. Entertainment and aquatic circus exhibits were combined as themes in Philadelphia's Aquarama Aquarium Theater of the Sea (1962–1969) and Camden's re-invented Adventure Aquarium 2005, formerly the New Jersey State Aquarium (1992).

The first Japanese public aquarium, a small freshwater aquarium, was opened at the Ueno Zoo in 1882.[8]

In 2005, the Georgia Aquarium, with more than 8 million U.S. gallons (6.7 million imp gal; 30 million L) of marine and fresh water, and more than 100,000 animals of 500 different species opened in Atlanta, Georgia. The aquarium's notable specimens include whale sharks and beluga whales.

Public aquariums today

Male whale shark at Georgia Aquarium
A whale shark in Georgia Aquarium's largest aquarium

Modern aquarium tanks can hold millions of litres of water and can house large species, including dolphins, sharks or beluga whales. This is accomplished through thick, clear acrylic glass windows. Aquatic and semiaquatic mammals, including otters[9] and seals[10] are often cared for at aquariums. Some establishments, such as the Oregon Coast Aquarium or the Monterey Bay Aquarium, have aquatic aviaries.[11][12] Modern aquariums also include land animals and plants that spend time in or near the water.[13]

For marketing purposes, many aquariums promote special exhibits, in addition to their permanent collections. Some have aquatic versions of a petting zoo. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a shallow tank filled with common types of rays[14] which visitors are encouraged to touch. The South Carolina Aquarium lets visitors feed the rays in their Saltmarsh Aviary exhibit.[15]


Feeding time melb aquarium
Feeding time at Melbourne Aquarium draws a large crowd

Most public aquariums are located close to the ocean, for a steady supply of natural seawater. An inland pioneer was Chicago's Shedd Aquarium[16] that received seawater shipped by rail in special tank cars. The early (1911) Philadelphia Aquarium, built in the city's disused water works, had to switch to treated city water when the nearby river became too contaminated.[17] Similarly, the recently opened Georgia Aquarium filled its tanks with fresh water from the city water system and salinated its salt water exhibits using the same commercial salt and mineral additives available to home aquarists. The South Carolina Aquarium pulls the salt water for their exhibits right out of the Charleston harbor.

In January 1985, Kelly Tarlton began construction of the first aquarium to include a large transparent acrylic tunnel, Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World in Auckland, New Zealand. Construction took 10 months and cost NZ$3 million. The 110-metre (360 ft) tunnel was built from one-tonne (2,200-lb) slabs of German sheet plastic that were shaped locally in an oven. A moving walkway now transports visitors through, and groups of school children occasionally hold sleepovers there beneath the swimming sharks and rays.[18]


Public aquariums are often affiliated with oceanographic research institutions or conduct their own research programs, and sometimes specialize in species and ecosystems that can be found in local waters. For example, the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, BC is a major center for marine research, conservation, and marine animal rehabilitation, particularly for the rich ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest.[19] The Vancouver Aquarium was the first aquarium to capture and display an orca whale, Moby Doll, for three months in 1964; as well as belugas, narwhals[20] and dolphins. The Monterey Bay Aquarium was the first public aquarium to display a great white shark. Beginning in September 2004, the Outer Bay exhibit (now the Open Sea galleries) was the home to the first in a series of great white sharks. The shark was at the aquarium for 198 days (the previous record was 16 days). The shark was released on March 31, 2005. The Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey has hippos. The Aquarium du Quebec houses polar bears.

Great white aqurium

A great white shark in temporary captivity at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Baltimore Aquarium - Big tank

Baltimore Aquarium

Aquarium in shopping mall, Kaunas

Aquarium in shopping mall

Churaumi Aquarium main tank 'Kuroshio Sea'

Churaumi Aquarium

Al Mahara Burj al Araba Dubai March 2008pano

al Mahara restaurant

Dubai Mall

Dubai Aquarium

16 08 070 aquarium

exhibit tunnel at Georgia Aquarium

See also


  1. ^ Watanabe & Phillips 1985.
  2. ^ Visitor Impact, AZA official website, accessed February 3rd, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d Brunner, Bernd (2003). The Ocean at Home. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. p. 99. ISBN 1-56898-502-9.
  4. ^ Strehlow, Harro, "Zoos and Aquariums of Berlin" in New World, New Animals: From Menagerie to Zoological Park in the Nineteenth Century, Hoage, Robert J. and Deiss, William A. (ed.), Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1996, p.69. ISBN 0-8018-5110-6
  5. ^ Strehlow, Harro, "Zoos and Aquariums of Berlin" in New World, New Animals: From Menagerie to Zoological Park in the Nineteenth Century, Hoage, Robert J. and Deiss, William A. (ed.), Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1996, p.70. ISBN 0-8018-5110-6
  6. ^ Van Bruggen, A.C. (September 2002). "Notes on the Buildings of Amsterdam Zoo". International Zoo News. Vol. 49/6 no. 319. Archived from the original on 2008-04-11.
  7. ^ David Lin, former Director of Operations, National Aquarium, Washington, DC
  8. ^ Kawata, Ken, "Zoological Gardens of Japan", in Zoo and Aquarium History: Ancient Collections to Zoological Gardens, Kisling, Vernon N. (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2001, p.298. ISBN 0-8493-2100-X
  9. ^ Sea Otters, Oregon Coast Aquarium's official website, accessed February 3rd, 2007.
  10. ^ "Pinnipeds". Oregon Coast Aquarium.
  11. ^ Birds, Oregon Coast Aquarium's official website, accessed February 3rd, 2007.
  12. ^ Sandy Shores Archived 2009-02-12 at the Wayback Machine, Monterey Bay Aquarium's official website Archived 2009-02-14 at the Wayback Machine, accessed February 3rd, 2007.
  13. ^ Taylor, Leighton R., Aquariums: Windows to Nature, Prentice Hall General Reference, New York, 1993. ISBN 0-671-85019-9
  14. ^ Sharks and Rays, Monterey Bay Aquarium's official website Archived 2009-02-14 at the Wayback Machine, accessed February 3rd, 2007.
  15. ^ "Saltmarsh Aviary". South Carolina Aquarium. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  16. ^ Shedd History Archived 2008-05-15 at the Wayback Machine, Shedd Aquarium's official website, accessed February 3rd, 2007.
  17. ^ Ung, Elisa (10 January 2010). "Rebuilt Water Works' Debut is on the Horizon: The Site, Long Decaying, is to Reopen to the Public in June". Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 12 June 2005 – via National Parks Service.
  18. ^ Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World, Auckland Archived 2008-05-03 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ Research, Vancouver Aquarium's official website, accessed February 3rd, 2007.
  20. ^ Narwhal (Monodon monoceros) Archived 2008-05-26 at the Wayback Machine

External links

Downtown Aquarium, Denver

Downtown Aquarium (formerly Colorado's Ocean Journey) is a public aquarium and restaurant located in Denver, Colorado at the intersection of I-25 and 23rd Ave. The 107,000 square feet (9,900 m2) main building sits on a 17-acre (6.9 ha) site adjacent to the South Platte River. Its freshwater and marine aquaria total approximately 1,000,000 US gallons (3,785,000 l), and exhibit a variety of fish and other animals.

The Downtown Aquarium in Denver is owned and operated by Landry's Restaurants, Inc., and is the largest aquarium between Chicago and California. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Downtown Aquarium, Houston

Downtown Aquarium is a public aquarium and restaurant located in Houston, Texas, United States that was developed from two Houston landmarks: Fire Station No. 1 and the Central Waterworks Building. The aquarium is located on a 6-acre (2.4 ha) site at 410 Bagby Street in downtown Houston. It houses over 200 species of aquatic animals in 500,000 US gallons (1,900,000 l) of aquariums. The complex includes two restaurants, a bar, and banquet facilities. It offers programs such as Marine Biologist for a Day, Zoologist for a Day, Sea Safari Camp, overnight stays and more. The education department works with school groups and conducts outreach programs.

The Downtown Aquarium in Houston is owned and operated by Landry's, Inc. and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Eilat's Coral Beach

Eilat's Coral Beach Nature Reserve and Conservation area (Hebrew: שמורת טבע חוף האלמוגים‎) is a nature reserve and national park in the Red Sea, near the city Eilat in Israel. It covers 1.2 kilometers of shore, and is the northernmost shallow water coral reef in the world. It is popular for diving and research, and was founded by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. At the southernmost point of the nature reserve there is the Coral World Underwater Observatory, the largest public aquarium in the Middle East.

Greater Cleveland Aquarium

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is an aquarium in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Occupying the historic FirstEnergy Powerhouse building located on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River in the city's Flats district, the aquarium which opened in January 2012 consists of approximately 70,000 square feet (6,500 m2) of exhibition space and features exhibits representing both local and exotic species of fish. The facility is the only free standing aquarium in the state of Ohio and ends a 26-year period that the city lacked a public aquarium.

Key West Aquarium

The Key West Aquarium is the only public aquarium in Key West, Florida, United States. It is located at 1 Whitehead Street and is marked by Historic Marker 52.


Kélonia is a public aquarium and observatory specialising in Marine turtles in Saint-Leu, Réunion.

It was built on the site of a former Turtle Ranch and purposes guided visits and educational workshops.

Kélonia also participates on different research programs on marine turtles. These include migratory studies, monitoring populations, genetics, etc.

It also has a turtle clinic.

Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

Manly Sea Life Sanctuary (formerly Oceanworld Manly) was a public aquarium located in Manly, Australia. It featured sharks, giant stingrays, sea turtles, little penguins and other marine life. It also allowed guests to take part in Shark Dive Xtreme, where they could swim with grey nurse sharks over three metres long.

Marine mammal park

A marine mammal park (also known as marine animal park and sometimes oceanarium) is a commercial theme park or aquarium where marine mammals such as dolphins, beluga whales and sea lions are kept within water tanks and displayed to the public in special shows. A marine mammal park is more elaborate than a dolphinarium, because it also features other marine mammals and offers additional entertainment attractions. It is thus seen as a combination of a public aquarium and an amusement park. Marine mammal parks are different from marine parks, which include natural reserves and marine wildlife sanctuaries such as coral reefs, particularly in Australia.

Miyajima Public Aquarium

Miyajima Public Aquarium (宮島水族館, Miyajima Suizokukan) is an aquarium on the island of Itsukushima in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima, Japan.

Montreal Aquarium

The Montreal Aquarium was a public aquarium on St. Helen's Island, Montreal, Quebec. It was built in 1966 for Expo 67 and shut down in 1991. It reopened as the Nintendo Mégadôme from 1995 to 2007. The Expo pavilion was originally sponsored by Alcan Aluminum Ltd., who built the site as a joint venture with the City of Montreal and the Zoological Society of Montreal. The main aquarium featured penguin pools, exhibits space and a gift shop. The separate dolphin pool had a 900-seat auditorium, show pool and holding tanks.

Nausicaä Centre National de la Mer

Nausicaā Centre National de la Mer (French pronunciation: ​[nozika.a sɑ̃tʁə nasjɔnal d(ə) la mɛʁ]) is a public aquarium located in Boulogne-sur-Mer in France. It is the largest public aquarium of Europe.Nausicaa is described as a center of scientific and technical discovery of the marine environment, focusing primarily on the relationship between man and the sea.


Ozeaneum is a public aquarium in the German city of Stralsund. It is a main attraction of the German Oceanographic Museum (Deutsches Meeresmuseum), arguably one of the three largest institutions of its kind in Europe.

The Ozeaneum — located at the historical Stralsund harbour on the Baltic coast — opened its doors in July 2008. It displays primarily sea life of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

The Ozeaneum was expected to be a major tourist attraction, and receive 550,000 visitors per year. It proved to be considerably more attractive than expected, and by the end of the first year had already had over 900,000 visitors. The millionth visit occurred on 27 July 2009.

On 22 May 2010, the OZEANEUM Stralsund received the European Museum of the Year Award in a ceremony in the Finnish town of Tampere.

Pierre Carbonnier

Pierre Carbonnier, (7 August 1828 – 8 April 1883) was a French scientist, ichthyologist, fish breeder and public Aquarium director. Member of Imperial Society of acclimatization (Société Impériale d'Acclimatation).

Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium

Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium (Japanese: 名古屋港水族館, Hepburn: nagoyakō suizokukan) is a public aquarium in Minato-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium (formerly Sydney Aquarium) contains a large variety of Australian aquatic life, displaying more than 700 species comprising more than 13,000 individual fish and other sea and water creatures from most of Australia's water habitats. Additionally, the aquarium features 14 themed zones including Jurassic Seas, Discovery Rockpool, Shark Walk, and the world’s largest Great Barrier Reef display. Along the way, visitors encounter animals unique to each habitat, including one of only four dugongs on display in the world, sharks, stingrays, penguins and tropical fish, among others.

It is a public aquarium located in the city of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is located on the eastern (city) side of Darling Harbour to the north of the Pyrmont Bridge. It is a full institutional member of the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium is a public aquarium opened in 1977 and located on Pier 59 on the Elliott Bay waterfront in Seattle, Washington, USA. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

St. Lucie County Aquarium

St. Lucie County Aquarium is a public aquarium in Fort Pierce, St. Lucie County, Florida. It contains the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit, which is a 3000-gallon model of a coral reef ecosystem; the exhibit was retired in 2000 from the National Museum of Natural History. The other exhibits represent ecosystems of the Indian River Lagoon and the surrounding coast.

The Deep (aquarium)

The Deep is a public aquarium situated at Sammy's Point, at the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber Estuary in Hull, England. It opened in March 2002.

Billed as "the world's only submarium", the tanks contain thousands of sea creatures (including seven species of shark), 2,500,000 litres (550,000 imp gal; 660,000 US gal) of water and 87 tonnes (96 short tons; 86 long tons) of salt housed in a building designed by Sir Terry Farrell and built as part of the UK National Lottery's Millennium Commission project.

The Deep is also a landmark centre for marine research. Staff marine biologists look after the animals in The Deep's collection as well as carrying out research into the marine environment. In 2013, the aquarium was voted the best family place to visit in Hull.[9]

The Deep is a charitable public aquarium dedicated to increasing people's enjoyment and understanding of the world's oceans.

Vancouver Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium (officially the Ocean Wise Conservation Association) is a public aquarium located in Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In addition to being a major tourist attraction for Vancouver, the aquarium is a centre for marine research, conservation and marine animal rehabilitation.

The Vancouver Aquarium was one of the first facilities to incorporate professional naturalists into the galleries to interpret animal behaviours.

Prior to this, at the London Zoo Fish House, naturalists James S. Bowerbank, Ray Lankester, David W. Mitchell and Philip H. Gosse (the creator of the word aquarium) had regularly held "open house" events, but the Vancouver Aquarium was the first to employ educational naturalists on a full-time basis. Aquarium research projects extend worldwide, and include marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation.

On August 9, 2010 Prime Minister Stephen Harper and B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell announced capital funding of up to $15 million. The province would donate $10 million in funding over the next three years to help pay for a planned expansion of the 54-year-old facility, Premier Gordon Campbell said. Harper added that Ottawa would hand over up to $5 million to the aquarium for infrastructure upgrades. The aquarium, however, remains a nonprofit organization. The property is owned by the City of Vancouver and rented to the Aquarium for $40,000 a year since 1991 (prior to which it was $1 per year).

In October 2009 the Vancouver Aquarium was designated as a Coastal America Learning Center by the US Environmental Protection Agency. As the first Learning Center in Canada, this designation is intended to strengthen the Canadian/U.S. partnership for protecting and restoring shared ocean resources.

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