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New England Aquarium

Central Wharf
Boston, Massachusetts

Phone: 617-973-5222 --
TTY: (617) 973-0223

Statement of Purpose:

To Present, Promote, and Protect the World of Water--

The mission of the New England Aquarium is to increase understanding ofaquatic life and environments, to enable people to act to conserve theworld of water, and to provide leadership for the preservation andsustainable use of aquatic resources.

This mission is fulfilled through exhibits, and through education, conservation, and research programs.

Exhibits showcase thediversity, importance, and beauty of aquatic life and habitats, andhighlight aquatic conservation issues of importance.

Programs emphasizespecies, habitats, and issues critical to New England.

The NEAq serves as a responsive community resource that attractsand involves the broadest possible audience; seeks a culturally diversestaff and governing board that reflect our community; adheres to thehighest standards of animal stewardship; and is committed to delivering the highest quality visitor experience ina welcoming and enjoyable manner that evokes wonder, curiosity,understanding, caring, and action.

Project History

In 1957, Boston businessman David B. Stone brought together a group ofbusiness associates to raise the funds necessary to build an aquarium. TheAquarium Corporation was chartered and fundraising began. The building was financed completely through individuals, corporations, and foundations throughout the New England region.

In 1965, the Corporation acquired Central Wharf, then part of Boston's Waterfront Urban Renewal Plan, and began construction. Long before the facility was completed, staff members fanned across three continents to examine aquarium procedures and collect marine specimens.

The official opening of the New England Aquariumwas June 20, 1969.


Approximately 12,646 specimen represent 658 species of fishes, invertebrates, mammals, birds, reptiles,and amphibians found around the world.

Operating Basis: Non-profit, self-supporting
Groundbreaking Fall, 1965 --opened to the public June, 1969
Cost $6,000,000 --privately financed

  • Dimensions
    Building Design

    The New England Aquarium (NEAq) is located on Central Wharf on Boston's historic waterfront, three blocks from Faneuil Hall Marketplace and the Freedom Trail. World-renowned architects, Cambridge Seven Associates designed the New England Aquarium. The architects created the illusion of being underwater by using the indirect lighting from the exhibits as the main source of illumination. The wide ramps throughout the exhibits make the Aquarium easily accessible to all.

    Highlights & Collections:


    More than 70 exhibit tanks make up the Aquarium galleries. They are arranged according to salt water and fresh water communities of fish, and further subdivided by Cold Marine, Temperate, Tropical, and Fresh Water Galleries. More than 12,000 fishes, birds, and mammals are on display from the most exotic species to the mostcommon food fishes.

    Ocean Tray

    The Ocean Tray, holding 131,000 gallons of water, dominates the groundlevel of the Aquarium surrounding the Giant Ocean Tank. It is home to the popularpenguin colony consisting of both African and rockhopper penguins who swimand play in harmony.

    Giant Ocean Tank

    Our most spectacular exhibit, the 187,000 gallon Giant Ocean TankCaribbean Coral Reef Exhibit rises four stories from the Ocean Tray PenguinExhibit. As one of the world's largest cylindrical saltwater tanks, it offers a multi-angle view of thesea turtles, moray eels, sharks, and other tropical fishes that liveinside.

    Edge of the Sea

    This hands-on tide pool exhibit recreates the diverse and colorful worldwhere the shore meets the sea. The Edge of the Sea Exhibit features arealistic fiberglass rocky shore, where visitors can watch the tides ebband flow and touch some of New England's favorite tide pool dwellers such as sea stars, horseshoe crabs,sea urchins, and periwinkles. With all of its beauty and diversity, one ofthe main goals of the exhibit is to inspire people to better care for theprecious treasuresfound along our coastlines.

    Special Changing Gallery

    A special gallery, on the Aquarium's first level, providesspace for changing exhibits. In the past, the gallery has presented:"Whales: New England's Wandering Giants," "The Rain Forest: Secret Spaces,Darkened Places," "Fish As Art," "The Everglades" and "Jellies." "Ponds: The Earth's Eyes," a year-long tribute to this fragile freshwater habitat, runsthrough March 2, 1997.

    Marine Mammals

    Sea lion presentations, featuring amazing natural and learnedbehaviors, are offered daily aboard Discovery, a unique floating pavilion adjacent to the Aquarium. Educating andentertaining, these shows are designed to foster a greater appreciation ofthe intelligence and coordination of marine mammals, and increase awarenessof the many environmental issues facing marine mammals including the careless disposal of plastics andirresponsible fishing practices.

    Special Programs

    Free or discounted admission programs offer even greater access to Aquarium exhibits and programs.

    Through the "Sea-niority" program offered January through May, seniors age 60+ are admitted free of charge on Monday afternoons. From September through June, many local libraries, including all branches of the Boston Public Library, provide passes for free or discounted Aquarium admission. and twice each year, the Aquarium hosts a free lecture series sponsored by the Lowell Institute, usually highlighting conservation and environmental issues.

    Boat Programs

    Set sail on the Aquarium's "fleet" of vessels: the Voyager II Whale Watch vessel and the Doc Edgerton"Science at Sea" Harbor Tour boat. Whale watch excursions depart Central Wharf from April through October to Stellwagen Bank, a marine mammal summer feeding ground about 25 miles from Boston. The "Science at Sea" Harbor Tour takes budding scientists to the depths of the harbor to participate in a variety of "experiments" including testing ocean salinity and temperature, hauling lobster traps, and towing for plankton.

    Aquarium Plaza

    The magnificent "Echo of the Waves" sculpture is situated (under construction 9/96-11/97) prominently on the Aquarium Plaza. "Echo of the Waves" is an intriguing sight for visitors, as they watch its large sail-likewings respond to delicate wind changes. Designed by the distinguished Japanese sculptor Susumu Shingu, it was built in collaboration with Cambridge Seven Architects and installed in July 1983. Mr. and Mrs. David Bakalar of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts commissioned this monumental piece of art.

    Harbor Seal Pool

    Harbor seals frolic year-round in the outdoor seal pool on the (under construction 9/96-11/97) Aquarium's Plaza. Some of these seals were orphaned pups found on the New England coast and cared for by skilled Aquarium biologists as part of our Rescue and Rehabilitation Program. Three of the seals were born at the Aquarium.


    * note Admissions Booth closes one half hour before exhibits close.

    Admission & Directions:

    The Aquarium is wheelchair accessible. Audio tour tapes are available and sign language interpretation is offered the first Sunday and Monday of each month.



    Check with us at a later date.

    Key Personnel:

    Jerry R. Schubel, C.E.O & President

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