Learn about the Aquarium’s History

  • 1969

    The Junior League of Corpus Christi and the local Jaycees form a coalition creating the Gulf Coast Zoological and Botanical Society whose purpose would be to build the local aquarium.

  • 1975

    Members of Leadership Corpus Christi Alumni join in support of the project.

  • 1978

    Organization’s name changes to the Corpus Christi Aquarium Association to encourage local enthusiasm and support.

  • 1979

    Junior League donates $50,000 to launch project.

  • 1983

    Building fund increases to over $1 million, led by a $350,000 grant from the Earl C. Sams Foundation in Corpus Christi.

  • 1984

    The Brown Foundation of Houston awards a $1.5 million challenge grant to the project.

  • 1985

    The Texas State Legislature designates Corpus Christi’s proposed aquarium the “Official Aquarium of Texas.”

  • 1986

    Name changes to Texas State Aquarium Association (TSAA). • TSAA purchases 6.3 Acres of land on the southern tip of Corpus Christi Beach • Local voters approve a $4.4 million bond issue for the improvement of public properties surrounding the site.

  • 1987

    A four-phased master plan is initiated. Corpus Christi Downtown Reinvestment Zone invests $10 million and the Housing Finance Corporation Invests $500,000.

  • 1988

    A $3 million investment from the Houston Endowment moves the project from the design stage to final plans and ground breaking • Construction begins in September

  • 1990

    Aquarium opens its Gulf of Mexico Exhibit Building to the public on July 6, 1990.

  • 1993

    TSA becomes a federally-permitted animal rehabilitation facility.

  • 1995

    TSA becomes accredited with the AZA, American Zoo & Aquarium Association. • TSA celebrates its 5th anniversary with a Willie Nelson Concert. • Education outreach expands with the launching of the mobile exhibit Ocean in Motion. • Turtle Bend opens featuring several of the TSA’s rehabilitated sea turtles.

  • 1996

    Otter Space opens in Conservation Cove featuring North American River Otters. • TSA receives Mutual of America’s Outstanding Public-Private partnership Award for the television show, Wonders Under the Sea.

  • 1997

    TSA receives the Munson Aquatic Conservation Exhibitry Award from AZA for Ocean in Motion.

  • 1998

    TSA holds first Beach Ball Gala featuring the Beach Boys. • TSA adopts a special exhibit plan and opens Jellies: Floating Phantoms. • Coastal America, a partnership of 13 feder departments and the office of the President, designates TSA as a coastal Ecosystem Learning Center.

  • 1999

    TSA presents second special exhibit, Swamp Tales, featuring Roscoe the white alligator. • Interpretive Walkway opens.

  • 2000

    TSA opens third special exhibit, Seahorse Seatopia • TSA introduces Dollar Day, a local program designed to increase accessibility to families throughout the City. • Teacher workshops become registered with the State Board for Educator Certification.

  • 2001

    TSA breaks ground on Dolphin Bay, the largest expansion since the Grand Opening, with over $10 million in private donations raised. • Stingray Flats and Texas Trails open. 2002 • TSA opens fourth special exhibit, Oddysea. • Kids’ Port playground opens • Dolphin Bay fundraising reaches $14.7 million and TSA successfully completes the requirements of a $750,000 Kresge challenge grant.

  • 2002

    TSA opens fourth special exhibit, Oddysea. • Kids’ Port playground opens • Dolphin Bay fundraising reaches $14.7 million and TSA successfully completes the requirements of a $750,000 Kresge challenge grant.

  • 2003

    Dolphin Bay opens to rave reviews as the city welcomes “Kimo” and “Sundance.” • Environmental Discovery Center opens, featuring an expanded Weston’s Library, theBlanche Davis Moore Family Learning Center, and the Flint Hills Resources Distance Learning Studio. • TSA tops off the year with Beach Ball 2003 starring Chicago.

  • 2004

    TSA wins the 2004 Conservation and Environmental Stewardship Award for Public Awareness from the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation.

  • 2005

    TSA celebrates 15th anniversary year with the opening of its fifth special exhibit, AMAZON. • Two new Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, “Cobie” and “Shadow”, join Dolphin Bay.

  • 2006

    TSA introduces newest exhibit, Living Shores,which interprets the Laguna Madre. • “Kai” and “DJ” join “Cobie” and “Shadow” in Dolphin Bay. • “Naiya” the anteater enters AMAZON. • Highest attendance since 1993.

  • 2007

    TSA earns accreditation from the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums for Dolphin Bay. • Wild Flight soars at TSA. The first phase of a three-year renovation is complete with the opening of the Hawn Wild Flight Theater. • New otters, Gwen and Odie, make their home at TSA. • TSA begins extensive renovations of sea turtle exhibit.

  • 2008

    Newly renovated Tortuga Cay and Otter Creek open in spring. The final phase of Conservation Cove begins, as ground is broken on Eagle Pass and Swamp Tales.

  • 2009

    Aquarium introduces newest exhibit, Eagle Pass, which houses rescued and rehabilitated hawks, owls, and other raptors.

  • 2010

    Aquarium celebrates 20th Anniversary and opens newest exhibit, Swamp Tales, featuring a 10-foot long American alligator and various species of freshwater turtles.

  • 2011

    H-E-B Splash Park and Owen’s Paleo Park open as the Aquarium’s newest attractions, replacing the Kids’ Port Playground. Aquarium sees highest attendance since opening in 1990.

  • 2012

    Aquarium opens newest exhibit, Stingray Lagoon. The exhibit’s 10,000 gallons of seawater is home to over 30 rays representing the Southern, Atlantic, and cownose species. Existing Stingray Flats exhibit undergoes transition to a Shark Touch exhibit.

  • 2013

    Aquarium introduces new Wild Flight Show at Hawn Wild Flight Theater, and new Ocean Games dolphin show at Dolphin Bay.

  • 2014

    Aquarium opens new Nearshore Experience, the facility’s most immersive indoor exhibit to date, portraying life at the shoreline, where sand dunes and mangroves meet shallow saltwater habitats. The completely renovated exhibit area allows visitors to stroll directly beneath shorebirds, like the roseate spoonbill and white ibis. • Aquarium becomes one of only six U.S. aquariums to achieve Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-Star rating signaling good governance, sound fiscal management, accountability and transparency. • Aquarium announces new 65,000 expansion project called the Campaign Caribbean. The expansion will more than double the size of TSA, and will include a Mayan-themed Caribbean wing complete with cenote, a 40,000-gallon Caribbean shark exhibit, a redesigned entrance to the facility, and a whole new wing for events and convention-style meetings. Groundbreaking is 11/14, and the expected finish in Spring 2017.

  • 2015

    Aquarium celebrates 25th anniversary of public opening on July 6th. • Aquarium welcomes its 12 millionth visitor on July 13th. • Aquarium opens new Saving Sharks exhibit. With support from OCEARCH, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the exhibit was designed to capture the hearts and minds of budding conservationists and lifelong shark fans, alike.

  • 2016

    Aquarium opens Aquatic Nursery, offering guest a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of sustainable aquaculture. The nursery allows visitors to watch the birth and growth cycles of egg casings and juvenile cephalopods and jellies. • Aquarium opens new Tentacles exhibit, presented by the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation, which provides guests with a close up look at several jellyfish species, as well as cephalopods, such as octopus and cuttlefish species.

  • 2017

    Aquarium opens Caribbean Journey, the largest expansion in its 27-year history

  • 2018

    Aquarium restaurant, Pepsi Shoreline Grill, receives first “Ocean-Friendly Restaurant” Award in Texas. • Aquarium hosts first “Sensory Sensitive Sunday” for families facing autism spectrum disorders and other sensory challenges. • Aquarium welcomes young male Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth named “Chico.”

  • 2019

    Aquarium welcomes “Phil” and “Lil’, rescued green sea turtles, to Caribbean Sea exhibit. • Aquarium announces it was named as the #4 Aquarium in North America by USA TODAY, as chosen by online voters. • Aquarium welcomes 14 millionth guest since opening in 1990.

  • 2020

    Orphaned North American River otter pup, ”Arthur,” admitted to Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue program. • Aquarium announces it was named as the #4 Aquarium in North America by USA TODAY, as chosen by online voters. • Aquarium proudly welcomes Fisher, a North American River Otter. • Aquarium announces that it will receive a $2.5-million grant from the Port of Corpus Christi to support the vital work of the Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Center and Program.

  • 2021

    Aquarium admits record-breaking number of cold-stunned sea turtles during Winter Storm Uri to the Wildlife Rescue Center. • Aquarium proudly welcomes two young, sister ocelots named “Milla” and “Leeloo,” who arrived from the ABQ BioPark in Albuquerque, New Mexico in late March 2021 as part of the ocelot Species Survival Plan (SSP). • Aquarium announces funding milestone of $13 million raised for the Aquarium’s new Port of Corpus Christi Center for Wildlife Rescue at the Texas State Aquarium. • Aquarium breaks ground on new Port of Corpus Christi Center for Wildlife Rescue at the Texas State Aquarium.