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New Aquariums in the U.S.A. (1990 onwards)

Discussion in 'United States' started by snowleopard, 1 Jan 2015.

  1. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Many people think that the United States is a strong contender for the world's #1 nation in terms of zoos, but what is astonishing is how prolific aquariums have become in the country. With at least 120 aquariums currently open for business, it is intriguing to note that during the past quarter-century a whopping 66 new aquariums have made their debut. Enjoy the list below!

    A few bits n' bobs:

    - Many of the aquariums are fairly small. Since Georgia Aquarium stunned the world in 2005 a decade has passed and only two really large facilities have opened in the United States. California Academy of Sciences (including Steinhart Aquarium) in 2008 and Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in 2014.
    - There are now 8 Sea Life facilities in the U.S., including the one contained within Minnesota's Mall of America. Those 8 Sea Life establishments have all opened in the past 7 years. Will that aquatic chain continue to rapidly expand?
    - The years 1992 and 2000 each saw the opening of 7 new aquariums.
    - Have I missed any?

    New Aquariums in the United States since 1990:

    Texas State Aquarium - TX = 1990
    Audubon Aquarium of the Americas – LA = 1990
    Dolphin Connection – FL = 1990
    Jenkinson’s Aquarium – NJ = 1991
    Birch Aquarium – CA = 1992
    Oregon Coast Aquarium - OR = 1992
    Dallas World Aquarium – TX = 1992
    Adventure Aquarium – NJ = 1992 (reopened in 2005 after renovation)
    Tennessee Aquarium – TN = 1992
    Seacoast Science Center – NH = 1992
    Marine Mammal Care Center – CA = 1992
    South Florida Museum: Parker Manatee Aquarium - FL = 1993 (aquarium opening)
    Maine State Aquarium - ME = 1993
    The Florida Aquarium – FL = 1995
    Albuquerque Aquarium – NM = 1996
    Aquazoo Aquarium – NY = 1996
    Sea Life Minnesota – MN = 1996 (became a Sea Life facility in 2011)
    Aquarium of the Bay – CA = 1996 (reopened in 2000 after bankruptcy)
    Santa Monica Pier Aquarium – CA = 1996
    Ripley's Aquarium at Myrtle Beach – SC = 1997
    Maria Mitchell Aquarium – MA = 1997
    Alaska SeaLife Center – AK = 1998
    Maui Ocean Center – HI = 1998
    Aquarium of the Pacific - CA = 1998
    Denver Downtown Aquarium – CO = 1999
    Newport Aquarium – KY = 1999
    Moody Gardens – TX = 1999 for aquarium + 1993 for rainforest pyramid
    Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce – FL = 1999
    Atlantic City Aquarium –NJ = 1999
    Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay – NV = 2000
    South Carolina Aquarium - SC = 2000
    Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies – TN = 2000
    Discovery Cove - FL = 2000
    Long Island Aquarium – NY = 2000
    Great Lakes Aquarium – MN = 2000
    Seymour Marine Discovery Center - CA = 2000
    Ocean Institute: Ocean Education Center - CA = 2002
    Houston Downtown Aquarium – TX = 2003
    Oklahoma Aquarium – OK = 2003
    ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center – VT = 2003
    National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium – IA= 2003
    World Aquarium – MO = 2004 (1993 founding and it changed locations twice)
    Flint RiverQuarium – GA = 2004
    Georgia Aquarium – GA = 2005
    Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center – CA = 2005
    Exploration Center & Aquarium: Easton’s Beach – RI = 2006
    Exploration Center & Aquarium: South Coast Center – RI = 2007
    Loggerhead Marinelife Center – FL = 2007
    Georgia Sea Turtle Center – GA = 2007
    California Academy of Sciences – CA = 2008 (Steinhart Aquarium)
    Sea Life Carlsbad – CA = 2008
    Sea Life Arizona – AZ = 2010
    Sea Life Grapevine – TX = 2011
    Aquarium of Boise – ID = 2011
    Sea Life Kansas City – MO = 2012
    Greater Cleveland Aquarium – OH = 2012
    Portland Aquarium – OR = 2012
    Austin Aquarium – TX = 2013
    Doheny State Beach Interpretative Center & Aquarium – CA = 2014 (reopened after 2007 closure)
    Loveland Living Planet Aquarium – UT = 2014
    Sea Life Charlotte-Concord - NC = 2014
    San Antonio Aquarium - TX = 2014
    Sea Life Michigan – MI = 2015
    Sea Life Orlando – FL = 2015
    St. Augustine Aquarium - FL = 2015

    65 new aquariums between the years 1990-2015
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2015
  2. wally war eagle

    wally war eagle Well-Known Member

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    3 state aquariums on NC coast, GA marine extension service aquarium at Jekyll Island
     
  3. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I have visited all 3 of the North Carolina facilities and didn't they all open in 1976?
     
  4. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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    Really very impressive. And for the most part, what I'd consider "real" aquariums
    Thanks for all of this effort! So illuminating
     
  5. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

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    Also of note in this time period are the Scott Aquarium at the Omaha Zoo and the 1996 expansion of the Monterey Bay Aquarium that doubled its size.
     
  6. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

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    Maui Ocean Center is on that list twice.

    Either way, that is a very impressive list !!
     
  7. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Hyak_II: thanks for catching the fact that Maui Ocean Center was on the list twice.

    @DavidBrown: good point about Monterey Bay's expansion and there are examples of aquarium growth in zoos as well. Pittsburgh Zoo opened its aquarium in 2000 (a complete overhaul of a previously existing building) while Omaha built an aquarium in 1995 and then renovated the same facility in 2012. Omaha and Pittsburgh arguably have the two best aquariums inside zoos anywhere in North America and one could almost justify a separate entrance fee for those establishments. Also, Riverbanks Zoo and Oklahoma City Zoo both opened aquariums in the late 1980's.

    It took me hours to come up with the list and I am thrilled to be able to use it as a reference guide for the future. I'm quite intrigued to see what happens with the Sea Life expansion and there are several notable American states (Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Dakota) that lack any kind of major aquarium. Could Sea Life come knockin'? You read it here first! :) Wisconsin seems like a strong possibility as there are at least 26 zoos, 6 million people and yet not a single aquatic facility.
     
  8. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Moderator Staff Member

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    In the mid 1990's, Tucson had a major downtown redevelopment plan on the ballot and one of the major components was an aquarium. Voters passed the measure (yes I voted for it) but after feasibility studies it was decided the aquarium would not be practical. I think this was actually a wise move as it would have probably been a money pit the city had to perpetually subsidize and no tourists go to the desert to see fish. The rest of the project (dubbed Rio Nuevo) got delayed for a decade with lots of money disappearing in a classic case of government waste. Eventually the state took the money management away from the city and within the last couple years downtown has finally seen a rebirth. Lots of new restaurants, a brand new light rail, but no aquarium. (The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum opened a small one inside one of their buildings, but there are probably large pet shops with displays that match it).
     
  9. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

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    Is the Indianapolis Zoo's aquatic animal facility a full aquarium? With dolphins, walrus, and penguins they have the foundations of an aquarium; do they also have fish and marine invertebrates in that building?
     
  10. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    You are correct and there are several fish tanks, a terrific shark/stingray petting pool and other aquatic delights along with the penguins, walrus and dolphins. Still, Indianapolis is the 12th largest city in America in terms of population and the metropolitan area could easily support a large aquarium or even a Sea Life. The city of Jacksonville in Florida is the 13th largest city and it might have a brand-new aquarium in 2015.

    Philadelphia lacks a major aquarium and it is the largest city in the U.S. to be in that category (5th biggest population-wise) but Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey, is just a stone's throw away and literally 10 minutes from Philly. The largest city in the U.S.A. that is the farthest distance from an aquarium is Indianapolis as it is 2 hours north of Newport Aquarium in Kentucky.
     
  11. geomorph

    geomorph Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for the well-researched list!

    One correction to strike from the list is The Seas with Nemo and Friends. It originally opened as The Living Seas in 1986, and was simply rethemed in 2007.
     
  12. ANyhuis

    ANyhuis Well-Known Member

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    My friend SnowLeopard makes some interesting points about my home city of Indianapolis. First, our zoo' best exhibits are all aquatic-oriented. While we don't have a full-scale aquarium, we certainly have all of the best features of the big aquariums. We have probably the best dolphin exhibit in the nation (though the dolphin show is better elsewhere). What we don't have is the rows and rows of different saltwater and freshwater fish that you'll find at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. But Indianapolis is called the "Crossroads of America", as we have interstate highways heading out in almost every direction, with interesting cities (and aquariums and zoos) all just 2 or 3 hours away.

    While SL is right that we are the 12th-largest city, that is based on central city population alone. Quite honestly, a few US cities (Oklahoma City, Jacksonville, and my Indianapolis) have a done a sort of "cheating" move by incorporating most of the city's county, including some non-urban areas. We have farmland within our city limits! That means we have a large central city population, but not a large corresponding metropolitan area population. In fact, Indianapolis is only the 33rd-largest metropolitan area in the USA. As we all know, aquariums tend to have higher admission fees than zoos, meaning that it's the middle class and upper class people (who mostly live out in the citys' suburbs) who support aquariums. Thus the need for a large metropolitan area population -- which Indianapolis is not so high on the list for.

    But actually, aquariums are quite different from zoos in who visits them. While zoos are mostly full of local people, aquariums are much more appealing to visiting tourists, who are more willing to spend their vacation dollars to visit them. This is why there are aquariums in non-heavily populated areas like Myrtle Beach, SC; Gatlinburg, TN; Corpus Christi, TX; Monterey, CA and other tourist hot spots. Southern California and Florida are filled with aquariums, as are Texas and other coastal tourist cities like Seattle, Boston, and San Francisco. With this in mind, Indianapolis and Milwaukee do not really qualify as tourist hot spots -- though we're trying.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2015
  13. JBZvolunteer

    JBZvolunteer Well-Known Member

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    Also, if one was to include zoo aquariums, the living shores aquarium at John Ball Zoo would count since it opened in the 1990's.
     
  14. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I think that you might be correct with this one. On Wikipedia there is a lot of detail surrounding the 3 year renovation/overhaul/revamp of the aquarium and I thought that such an extensive alteration might allow The Seas with Nemo & Friends to be viewed as a brand-new facility. Either way I still have a heck of a lot of aquariums on the list and I even added the St. Augustine establishment that should open in early 2015. That makes 3 more aquariums due to open this year!
     
  15. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    My initial list has now grown:

    - Central Coast Aquarium (Avila Beach, California) was at one time the Avila Beach Sea Life Center but it opened as the Central Coast Aquarium in 1994.

    - Wonders of Wildlife (Springfield, Missouri) opened in 2001 and then promptly closed for an extensive renovation and expansion in 2007. It is due to open to the public this year with a whopping 315,000 sq. ft. of space. Not all of that area will be devoted to aquatic life but even so it will be one of the largest complexes in America with captive fish. There will be 1.2 million gallons of water and the $100 million development means that it will surely be worth visiting when it finally finishes construction as in terms of square footage it will be one of the largest aquatic facilities in the nation.

    Check out this link:

    Wonders of Wildlife taking shape

    Lastly, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami is a $275 million construction project that opens in 2016. It will feature a 500,000 gallon aquarium (hammerhead sharks, tuna, sea turtles) that is featured on the link below:

    Huge new aquarium to form centerpiece of Miami's Museum of Science

    By my count there are approximately 700 "zoos" in the United States and 126 of them are aquariums. Of those 126 aquariums almost 70 of them have opened since 1990. Will there continue to be almost 3 new aquariums opening in the U.S. every year or at some point will the country reach saturation point?
     
  16. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  17. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I visited Butterfly World in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, today and already there is the foundation and walls of yet another aquarium being built in the United States. This one is going to be huge (200,000 sq. ft. and 2 million gallons) and give the country approximately 130 aquarium facilities.

    Here is the website and it opens in July of 2016:

    OdySea Aquarium – About
     
  18. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    OdySea is going to be much more than just America's 130th aquarium, as there will also be Butterfly Wonderland (which I toured a few months ago), OdySea Mirror Maze, a 78-foot tall skydiving tower, the Arizona Skywheel, shops, restaurants and other attractions. If you click on the site's "experience" section then there is a detailed breakdown of what exhibits will be inside the facility.
     
  19. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  20. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I've provided an updated list, as between 2014 to 2016 a dozen new aquariums opened in the USA...and I'm sure that this list will continue to grow at a rapid rate.

    New Aquariums in the USA since 1990:

    Texas State Aquarium - TX = 1990
    Audubon Aquarium of the Americas – LA = 1990
    Dolphin Connection – FL = 1990
    Jenkinson’s Aquarium – NJ = 1991
    Birch Aquarium – CA = 1992
    Oregon Coast Aquarium - OR = 1992
    Dallas World Aquarium – TX = 1992
    Adventure Aquarium – NJ = 1992 (reopened in 2005 after renovation)
    Tennessee Aquarium – TN = 1992
    Seacoast Science Center – NH = 1992
    Marine Mammal Care Center – CA = 1992
    South Florida Museum: Parker Manatee Aquarium - FL = 1993 (aquarium opening)
    Maine State Aquarium - ME = 1993
    Central Coast Aquarium - CA = 1994
    The Florida Aquarium – FL = 1995
    Albuquerque Aquarium – NM = 1996
    Aquazoo Aquarium – NY = 1996
    Sea Life Minnesota – MN = 1996 (became a Sea Life facility in 2011)
    Aquarium of the Bay – CA = 1996 (reopened in 2000 after bankruptcy)
    Santa Monica Pier Aquarium – CA = 1996
    Ripley's Aquarium at Myrtle Beach – SC = 1997
    Maria Mitchell Aquarium – MA = 1997
    Alaska SeaLife Center – AK = 1998
    Maui Ocean Center – HI = 1998
    Aquarium of the Pacific - CA = 1998
    Denver Downtown Aquarium – CO = 1999
    Newport Aquarium – KY = 1999
    Moody Gardens – TX = 1999 for aquarium + 1993 for rainforest pyramid
    Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce – FL = 1999
    Atlantic City Aquarium –NJ = 1999
    Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay – NV = 2000
    South Carolina Aquarium - SC = 2000
    Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies – TN = 2000
    Discovery Cove - FL = 2000
    Long Island Aquarium – NY = 2000
    Great Lakes Aquarium – MN = 2000
    Seymour Marine Discovery Center - CA = 2000
    Ocean Institute: Ocean Education Center - CA = 2002
    Houston Downtown Aquarium – TX = 2003
    Oklahoma Aquarium – OK = 2003
    ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center – VT = 2003
    National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium – IA= 2003
    World Aquarium – MO = 2004 (1993 founding and it changed locations twice)
    Flint RiverQuarium – GA = 2004
    Georgia Aquarium – GA = 2005
    Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center – CA = 2005
    Exploration Center & Aquarium: Easton’s Beach – RI = 2006
    Exploration Center & Aquarium: South Coast Center – RI = 2007
    Loggerhead Marinelife Center – FL = 2007
    Georgia Sea Turtle Center – GA = 2007
    California Academy of Sciences – CA = 2008 (Steinhart Aquarium)
    Sea Life Carlsbad – CA = 2008
    Sea Life Arizona – AZ = 2010
    Sea Life Grapevine – TX = 2011
    Aquarium of Boise – ID = 2011
    Sea Life Kansas City – MO = 2012
    Greater Cleveland Aquarium – OH = 2012
    Portland Aquarium – OR = 2012
    Austin Aquarium – TX = 2013
    Doheny State Beach Interpretative Center & Aquarium – CA = 2014 (reopened after 2007 closure)
    Loveland Living Planet Aquarium – UT = 2014
    Sea Life Charlotte-Concord - NC = 2014
    San Antonio Aquarium - TX = 2014
    Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters - FL = 2014
    Sea Life Michigan – MI = 2015
    Sea Life Orlando – FL = 2015
    St. Augustine Aquarium - FL = 2016
    Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium - MO = 2016
    OdySea Aquarium - AZ = 2016
    Dolphinaris - AZ = 2016
    SeaQuest Aquarium - NV = 2016
    Miami Museum of Science - FL = 2017?
    Sea Life Meadowlands - NJ = 2017?
    St. Louis Aquarium - MO = 2018?
    Mississippi Aquarium - MS = 2019?
     
    Last edited: 31 Aug 2016