10 Reasons We're A USA TODAY 10Best Aquarium

September 28, 2017

When the Texas State Aquarium was once again nominated as a USA TODAY 10Best Aquarium this year, it got us thinking about the Top 10 reasons that the Aquarium is the best in North America. For over 25 years, we’ve been a place where families come to learn, bond and discover together. But we’re even more than that, maintaining several conservation, education, and community outreach programs in addition to our daily wildlife exhibits and presentations. See the best qualities of the Aquarium below, then cast your vote to declare us as Your Favorite Aquarium

  • #1 - Our Animals


    We give our visitors plenty to look at and learn about. With over 6600 animals representing over 380 species, the Aquarium shows off the incredibly diverse life in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. From sea turtles, otters, dolphins, and sharks to thousands of fish, there’s more animals than you could possibly take in during one trip. And while our animals are certainly fun to watch, certain exhibits allow you to go even closer and touch sharks, stingrays, and jellies.

  • #2 - WCCR


    Another part of our mission pledges to support wildlife conservation, and we keep that promise partly through our Wildlife Care, Conservation, and Research Fund (WCCR). Each year, the WCCR awards funding to programs that focus on habitat restoration, wildlife management, conservation, and wildlife rehabilitation in the Gulf of Mexico. The projects all focus on species in the Aquarium’s living collection or habits that support these species. Through the WCCR, we’ve helped several researchers and conservationists who aim to save important Gulf species and habitats of concern.

  • #3 - Second Chances


    We don’t just support local wildlife through education and research but through rescue and rehabilitation. Our Second Chances Wildlife Rehabilitation Program takes in, heals, and whenever possible, releases ill and injured shorebirds, raptors, marine mammals, and sea turtles. 2016 was a banner year for Second Chances, with staff treating 346 birds and releasing 125 birds back into their natural habitat. In January, we also released several rehabilitated green sea turtles back into the wild. This valuable community service continues to expand with state-of-the-art equipment and highly-trained staff, allowing rescuers to help more and more birds while educating the public on how to protect and conserve wildlife.

  • #4 - Wildlife Presentations


    You’ll never have to wait more than a half hour to take in our next exciting wildlife presentation. Presentations featuring otters, dolphins, sea turtles, stingrays, and other exotic species are held every 30 minutes to show off our animals’ amazing attributes. Our most popular presentations include Dolphins!, displaying the acrobatics of Shadow, Kai, Liko and Schooner, and our Wild Flight Show, where viewers get an up-close look at hawks, birds, and exotic animals like the African serval and prehensile-tailed porcupine.

  • #5 - Education


    The Aquarium reached over 75,000 students from around the nation last year, helping to create a new generation of inspired conservationists. Several education programs are offered throughout the week to engage and inspire young ocean explorers, including our School Year Camps and Homeschools, where children participate in activities that teach about marine life, and Creature Tales, where young readers hear a story about an animal then meet the superstar of the book in real-life. Our Aquavision Distance Learning has helped us reach students from thousands of miles away, showing off the Aquarium’s ocean life and teaching valuable lessons using webcams and other online technology. 

  • #6 - Friendly, Knowledgeable Staff


    Guests may come to see the animals, but our people are what make for a truly great experience at the Aquarium. Our staff is committed to making our guests feel welcome from the minute they enter our doors, and we love to answer their questions and tell them about their favorite animals and how we care for them. Customer service is one of our highest priorities, and we are constantly listening to our guests on how can help make their time at the Aquarium even better.

  • #7 - Our Event Space


    We keeps the fun going long after our doors have closed to the general public. Weddings, birthday parties, corporate gatherings, and other memorable events have been held among our stunning Gulf of Mexico scenery during after-hours. Caribbean Journey will soon offer an exciting new event space overlooking the Corpus Christi Bayfront and the Caribbean Jungle. We accommodate our event guests’ every need with our on-site catering company, event décor, and a dedicated event manager, so all they have to do is enjoy themselves and soak in the sights.

  • #8 - Our Restaurants and Gift Shop


    Exploring the sights and sounds of the Gulf of Mexico can work up an appetite, and at the end of the day, you may want a special memento to remember your adventure under the sea. Our Shoreline Grill serves up delicious meals and hot plate specials, while Café Aqua offers lighter fare and Starbucks coffee. We’ve recently unveiled a brand-new 3,000 square-foot gift shop, where guests can browse through a myriad of ocean-themed merchandise and gifts and pick out something to commemorate their time at the Aquarium.

  • #9 - Caribbean Journey


    We are now on the verge of the biggest expansion in our history with Caribbean Journey, opening in May 2017. Caribbean Journey will more than double the size of the Aquarium and offer an adventure through the jungles and seas of the Yucatan Peninsula, where encounters with flamingos, bats, sharks, fish, and other exotic species await. Highlights include the naturally-lit Caribbean jungle, where birds and reptiles roam freely among the trees, a Mayan Ruins where reptiles hide in the dark, and the 400,000-gallon H-E-B Caribbean Shark exhibit, where sharks prowl among an ancient shipwreck just inches away from guests. A 4D theater featuring BBC Earth's "Sharks" will also make you feel like your swimming right next to these ocean predators. Your Caribbean Journey starts in just two short months.

  • #10 - We're Your Aquarium


    The Aquarium does some amazing things every day, but we know we couldn’t do it without your help. With that in mind, we do everything we can to thank our guests for their years of support, and to you let you know that ultimately we are Your Aquarium. Our Dollar Days admits guests for only $1, while our Beach Cleanups and donations to charity show that we are invested in our city. We hope that with your participation, the Aquarium can continue to be not just attraction, but a pillar of the local community that provides jobs, economic support, culture, education, and other benefits for years to come.

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