Public aquarium

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The Open Ocean exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium School of sardines at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (12056).jpg
The Open Ocean exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
The main aquarium at Dubai Mall Aquarium DubaiMallAquariumDSC 7260.JPG
The main aquarium at Dubai Mall Aquarium

A public aquarium (plural: public aquaria or public Water Zoo) 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. [1]



Various Water Zoos at the Belle Isle Water Zoo in Detroit, Michigan c. 1900 Detroit aquarium 1890-1910.jpg
Various Water Zoos at the Belle Isle Water Zoo in Detroit, Michigan c. 1900
An early aquarium in Japan in the 18th century Hyogo ikesu.jpg
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. [2] 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. [2] In 1859, the Aquarial Gardens were founded in Boston. [2] 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 of Hamburg in Hamburg (1864), as well as aquariums in Berlin (1869) and Brighton (1872). [2]

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. [3] 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, and 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. [4]

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. [5]

Before its closing on 30 September 2013, the oldest American aquarium was the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C., founded in 1873. [6] 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 City (New York Aquarium, 1896–present), San Diego (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 in the United States until the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta opened in 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 called "Uonozoki" (now Tokyo Sea Life Park), was opened at the Ueno Zoo in 1882. [7]

Public aquariums today

A whale shark in Georgia Aquarium's largest aquarium Male whale shark at Georgia Aquarium.jpg
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 [8] and seals [9] are often cared for at aquariums. Some establishments, such as the Oregon Coast Aquarium or the Monterey Bay Aquarium, have aquatic aviaries. [10] [11] Modern aquariums also include land animals and plants that spend time in or near the water. [12]

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 [13] which visitors are encouraged to touch. The South Carolina Aquarium lets visitors feed the rays in their Saltmarsh Aviary exhibit. [14]

The largest public aquarium is the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom theme park, opened in 2014 in Hengqin, Zhuhai, with a total of 48.75 million litres (12.87 million US gal) of water. The second largest is the Marine Life Park in southern Singapore with a total of 45 million litres (12 million US gal) of water for more than 100,000 marine animals of over 800 species.


Feeding time at Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium draws a large crowd. Feeding time melb aquarium.jpg
Feeding time at Sea Life 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 [15] 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. [16] Similarly, the recently opened Georgia Aquarium filled its tanks with fresh water from the city water system and salinated its saltwater 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 harbour.

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. [17]

According to Samantha Muka, creating new public aquariums is an expensive process, that can become so expensive as to render the project economically unsustainable, due to the logistical demands of creating environments in which aquatic animals can survive. [18]


Public aquariums are often affiliated with oceanographic research institutions or conduct their research programs, and sometimes specialise in species and ecosystems that can be found in local waters. For example, the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, British Columbia, is a centre for marine research, conservation, and marine animal rehabilitation, particularly for the ecosystem of the Pacific Northwest. [19] The Vancouver Aquarium was the first aquarium to capture and display an orca, 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 31 March 2005. The Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey has hippos. The Aquarium du Québec houses polar bears.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monterey Bay Aquarium</span> Nonprofit public aquarium in Monterey, California, United States

Monterey Bay Aquarium is a nonprofit public aquarium in Monterey, California. Known for its regional focus on the marine habitats of Monterey Bay, it was the first to exhibit a living kelp forest when it opened in October 1984. Its biologists have pioneered the animal husbandry of jellyfish and it was the first to successfully care for and display a great white shark. The organization's research and conservation efforts also focus on sea otters, various birds, and tunas. Seafood Watch, a sustainable seafood advisory list published by the aquarium beginning in 1999, has influenced the discussion surrounding sustainable seafood.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">National Aquarium (Baltimore)</span> Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, USA

The National Aquarium – also known as National Aquarium in Baltimore and formerly known as Baltimore Aquarium – is a non-profit public aquarium located at 501 East Pratt Street on Pier 3 in the Inner Harbor area of downtown Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States. Constructed during a period of urban renewal in Baltimore, the aquarium opened on August 8, 1981. The aquarium has an annual attendance of 1.5 million visitors and is the largest tourism attraction in the State of Maryland. The aquarium holds more than 2,200,000 US gallons (8,300,000 l) of water, and has more than 17,000 specimens representing over 750 species. The National Aquarium's mission is to inspire conservation of the world's aquatic treasures. The aquarium's stated vision is to confront pressing issues facing global aquatic habitats through pioneering science, conservation, and educational programming.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shedd Aquarium</span> Aquarium in Illinois, United States

Shedd Aquarium is an indoor public aquarium in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. Opened on May 30, 1930, the 5 million US gal aquarium was for some time the largest indoor facility in the world. Today it holds about 32,000 animals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leafy seadragon</span> Species of fish

The leafy seadragon or Glauert's seadragon, is the only member of the genus Phycodurus and is a marine fish in the family Syngnathidae, which includes seadragons, pipefish, and seahorses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Berlin Zoo</span> Zoo in Berlin, Germany

The Berlin Zoological Garden is the oldest surviving and best-known zoo in Germany. Opened in 1844, it covers 35 hectares and is located in Berlin's Tiergarten. With about 1,380 different species and over 20,200 animals, the zoo presents one of the most comprehensive collections of species in the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aviary</span> Large enclosure for confining birds

An aviary is a large enclosure for confining birds, although bats may also be considered for display. Unlike birdcages, aviaries allow birds a larger living space where they can fly; hence, aviaries are also sometimes known as flight cages. Aviaries often contain plants and shrubbery to simulate a natural environment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mote Marine Laboratory</span> Non-profit organisation in the USA

Mote Marine Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit, marine research organization based on City Island in Sarasota, Florida, with additional campuses in eastern Sarasota County, Boca Grande, Florida, and the Florida Keys. Founded in 1955 by Eugenie Clark in Placida, Florida, it was known as the Cape Haze Marine Laboratory until 1967. The laboratory aims to advance marine science and education, supporting conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. A public aquarium and associated education program interpret its research for the public.

New York Aquarium Aquarium in Brooklyn, New York

The New York Aquarium is the oldest continually operating aquarium in the United States, located on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City. It was founded at Castle Garden in Battery Park, Manhattan in 1896, and moved to Coney Island in 1957. The aquarium is operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) as part of its integrated system of four zoos and one aquarium, most notably the Bronx Zoo. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). As part of WCS, the aquarium's mission is to save wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.

Kelly Tarltons Sea Life Aquarium Public aquarium in New Zealand

Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium is a public aquarium in Auckland, New Zealand, that was opened in 1985. Located at 23 Tamaki Drive, it was the brainchild of New Zealand marine archaeologist and diver Kelly Tarlton (1937–1985).

The Fort Worth Zoo is a zoo in Fort Worth, Texas, United States, that was founded in 1909 with one lion, two bear cubs, an alligator, a coyote, a peacock and a few rabbits. The zoo now is home to 7,000 native and exotic animals and has been named as a top zoo in the nation by Family Life magazine, the Los Angeles Times and USA Today, as well as one of the top zoos in the South by Southern Living Reader's Choice Awards.

Oceanarium Marine mammal park

An oceanarium can be either a marine mammal park, such as Marineland of Canada, or a large-scale aquarium, such as the Lisbon Oceanarium, presenting an ocean habitat with marine animals, especially large ocean dwellers such as sharks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sea Life Sydney Aquarium</span> Aquarium in Sydney, Australia

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is a public aquarium that features 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. Opened in 1988, it is regarded as one of Sydney's premier tourist attractions with over 55% of its visitors each year coming from overseas.

Texas State Aquarium Aquarium in Texas, United States

The Texas State Aquarium is a nonprofit aquarium located in Corpus Christi, Texas, United States. It aims to promote 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 aquaria in the United States.

Dallas World Aquarium Zoo in Texas, USA

The Dallas World Aquarium is a for-profit aquarium and zoo located in the West End Historic District of Dallas, Texas, USA. It aids conservation and education by housing many animals that are threatened or endangered as part of a cooperative breeding program with other zoos around the world. It has been an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums since 1997 and is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay</span> Aquarium in Nevada, United States

The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is a public aquarium on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada. It is located at and owned by the Mandalay Bay resort. The attraction opened on June 20, 2000. Its main tank is 1,300,000 US gallons (4,900,000 l), one of the largest in North America. The facility is 105,000 sq ft (9,800 m2), and displays numerous species of sharks, rays, fish, reptiles, and marine invertebrates. It also features a shark tunnel. The reef was developed in consultation with the Vancouver Aquarium.

Virginia Aquarium Aquarium in Virginia, USA

The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, formerly known as the Virginia Marine Science Museum, is an aquarium and marine science museum located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, just south of Rudee Inlet. The exhibits at the museum are contained in over 800,000 US gallons (3,028,000 l) of fresh and saltwater displays.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aquarium</span> Transparent tank of water for fish and water-dwelling species

An aquarium is a vivarium of any size having at least one transparent side in which aquatic plants or animals are kept and displayed. Fishkeepers use aquaria to keep fish, invertebrates, amphibians, aquatic reptiles, such as turtles, and aquatic plants. The term aquarium, coined by English naturalist Philip Henry Gosse, combines the Latin root aqua, meaning 'water', with the suffix -arium, meaning 'a place for relating to'.

Adventure Aquarium Aquarium in New Jersey, U.S.

The Adventure Aquarium, formerly the New Jersey State Aquarium, is a for-profit educational entertainment attraction operated in Camden, New Jersey on the Delaware River Camden Waterfront by Herschend Family Entertainment. Originally opened in 1992, it re-opened in its current form on May 25, 2005 featuring about 8,000 animals living in varied forms of semi-aquatic, freshwater, and marine habitats. The facility has a total tank volume of over 2 million US gallons (7,600,000 L), and public floor space of 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2).

The Aquarium of Boise is a 501 c(3) non-profit aquarium in Boise, Idaho, United States. It opened to the public in 2011.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tokyo Sea Life Park</span> Aquarium in Kasai Rinkai Park, Tokyo

Tokyo Sea Life Park is a public aquarium located in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo. It is located in Kasai Rinkai Park in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, and Kasai Rinkai Bird Garden is also located in the park. It can be accessed from Kasai-Rinkai Park Station. The Predecessor is the Ueno Aquarium, which was set up in the Ueno Zoo. The building was designed by Yoshio Taniguchi.


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