Under the Sea: Austin's First Aquarium Opens in November
Meet sea creatures and more at the Austin Aquarium this winter…
Aquarium visitors marvel at whale sharks at Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Flickr creative commons.
Once the largest urban metropolis without a public aquarium, Austin will soon welcome a large, interactive marine facility called Austin Aquarium.
Run by Vince and Ammon Covino, two brothers from Boise, Idaho, the aquarium will house over 3,000 species of animals—including reptiles, birds, and the largest gang of small clawed otters in the world—in more than 22,000 square feet, and will provide unique, hands-on experiences to visitors.
Kids watch a massive Gar at Dallas World Aquarium. Flickr creative commons.
"It's one thing to watch a movie about marine life or read a book about marine life but to have a hands-on experience, to have a close encounter with these species is a whole new experience," said Vince Covino.
The brothers first witnessed the value of these meaningful interactions back in Boise when Ammon built a shark and stingray pond in his front yard, attracting crowds of neighborhood kids eager to learn, touch, and even swim with such fascinating animals. “That gave us the idea that people really love interacting with these creatures,” said Covino.
Aquarium visitors touch tiger sharks at Mystic Aquarium. Flickr creative commons.
Just like those neighborhood children, Austin Aquarium guests will have opportunities to feed and touch a wide assortment of sharks, stingrays, birds, and fish, as well as to attend educational programs and events, throw sleep-over birthday parties with the sharks, and purchase behind-the-scenes tours and special interactions with octopi.
A little boy mesmerized by sharks at L'Aquarium de Paris. Flickr creative commons.
To further promote hands-on learning, Vince Covino recently announced Austin Aquarium’s partnership with the Texas Advanced Computer Center (TACC) at UT Austin to create a groundbreaking educational display featuring a huge, high-resolution touch screen.
“We hope to inspire a young generation of ocean explorers and conservationists through education and a shared experience with a live animal, to create an appreciation for the oceans,” Covino explained, and said that he feels confident that technology will aid in that process.
Aquarium visitors admire fish at Aquaria KLCC. Flickr creative commons.
If you’re totally stoked at the idea of Austin having an aquarium and think you might visit often, the Aquarium is offering half-price annual membership passes for a limited time only, so grab one while you can and get ready for your first undersea adventure in November.
The Austin Aquarium will be located at 13530 N Hwy 183, just south of Lakeline Mall. For more information, including regular admission fees and visiting hours, check out the aquarium’s website here.