Story and Photos by Marshall Altom
HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT NEAR downtown Corpus Christi, right down the street from the U.S.S. Lexington aircraft carrier, is a large hidden treasure. The Texas State aquarium is a MASSIVE underwater kingdom. Under their care are numerous species of sharks, sh, and several other aquatic species, as well as some not so aquatic. there are different exhibits the aquarium boasts, as well as a massive facility. ere is something truly captivating in the wildlife conservation, rescue, and research they do. We will take a brief look at some of their exhibits and how the aquarium gives back and helps the wildlife of Texas we all love. Inside the aquarium are multiple exhibits such as the Blue Hole, Coral Reef, Caribbean Sea, Islands of Steel, and so much more. Inside each of these exhibits are animals that truly embrace the names of each exhibit. The Texas State Aquarium boasts over 460 species you get to interact with. there are also shows and other activities you can attend at the aquarium.
Inside the H-E-B Caribbean Sea exhibit is a HUMONGOUS array of underwater species. the tank has a 68-foot-long acrylic window, which is also the longest in North America. In this exhibit, you get to see a Spanish galleon shipwreck, along with some Sandbar Sharks and some Great Barracudas. This tank is so large you feel as if you have entered an underwater kingdom.
Islands of Steel:
The Islands of Steel exhibit gives a great look into what is right out in our own Gulf Coast. This exhibit is home to a large variety of aquatic species Sharks (Hunter and Orion), a Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Tiki), and some Cownose Rays. Tiki is a part of a past rescue. She lost most of her flippers after being tangled in fishing line. the tank contains 125,000 gallons of water and has steel pylons that take the shape of a decommissioned oil rig. The hard legs of oil rigs are perfect for barnacles, oysters, and sponges. This begins transforming the area’s ecosystem and bringing these new “reefs” are able to provide about 4,000 square feet for aquatic species to live on.
At Dolphin Bay, you can see four dolphins (Shadow, Kai, Liko, Schooner) and their gravity-defying acts. the bay has a seating area above the water, as well as a viewing area down below. the dolphins were born in a protective environment and are unable to be introduced into the open waters.
Saving Sharks shows us that sharks are not always the scary monsters that movies show us. Inside this exhibit are four species of shark, the Port Jackson shark, Epaulette shark, Horn shark, and White Spotted Bamboo shark. You get the chance to interact with these sharks in a low, open-air tank and can pet the sharks. A big part of this exhibit is education on how people are more dangerous to sharks than sharks are to people. eir population has decreased as much as 90% due to fishing, debris, and habitat alteration.
The Texas State Aquarium has several divisions and numerous ways to help wildlife. The Aquarium has wildlife rescue, conservation partnerships, beach cleanups, SECORE, Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE), and Species Survival Plan (SSP). Every year, the aquarium does their part and adopts a local coastline through the Adopt-a-Beach program. e aquarium has also eliminated single-use plastic from the majority of their operations. This is part of their education to show guests and visitors how eco-friendly alternatives can benet the oceans.
Wildlife Rescue: Every year, hundreds of animals within the Gulf Coast become hurt or sick. there are numerous ways this can happen, but most common is debilitated by predators, disease, or other natural causes. The Wildlife Rescue is able to accept Shorebirds, Raptors, Marine Mammals, and Sea Turtles. The Wildlife Rescue takes in the animals and gives them the medicine and/or rehabilitation they need to get back into the wild. In 2016, they were able to help over 300 Shorebirds. The Wildlife Rescue is in a separate location than the Aquarium and is located at 4230 Rincon Rd, Corpus Christi, TX 78402.
The Texas State Aquarium has partnered with SECORE International. SECORE is a leading conservation organization that helps restore and protect coral reefs. rough these partnerships, SECORE is able to educate the public on how to help corral reefs and preserve them. The Texas State Aquarium assists SECORE by growing corral in their Aquatic Nursery and helps them reintroduce them back into reefs.
The Texas State Aquarium is a member of SAFE and joins other zoos and aquariums in developing plans to preserve wildlife. is includes identifying threats, raising funds and resources, as well as public education.
SSP (Species Survival Plan):
The Texas State Aquarium works with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to help population management of certain species. is assists in those species’ research, management, and husbandry. This is a vital part and mission of the aquarium. Overall, the Texas State Aquarium is a cool place to go but does so much more behind the scenes. They educate people on proper treatment of wildlife and our environment. They also take care of our coastlines and wildlife through their programs and initiatives. Having a resource like this in our state is what truly makes this a treasure. Please consider visiting or donating.
You can find out more info at texasstateaquarium.org or visit in person at 2710 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78402. The aquarium is open daily from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM every day except Christmas Day.