Shark tunnel at the aquarium
|Location||Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota, United States|
|Land area||70,000 square feet (6,500 m2)|
|No. of animals||10,000+|
|Volume of largest tank||500,000 US gallons (1,900,000 l)|
|Total volume of tanks||1,200,000 US gallons (4,500,000 l)|
Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium is a public aquarium located in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, United States. It is home to thousands of aquatic creatures, including a large collection of sharks, sea turtles, stingrays and freshwater fish. The 1,200,000-US-gallon (4,500,000 l) aquarium also features sea turtles, octopuses, and lobsters. Freshwater exhibits include game fish from the northern region of the United States, several giant catfish and a 180-pound (82 kg) alligator gar from the southern United States.
The aquarium includes a 300-foot (91 m) clear acrylic tunnel that lets visitors explore the underwater world while remaining dry. The thickness and curvature of the glass makes the animals appear about 20% smaller.
The aquarium at the Mall of America was opened in 1996 under the name Underwater World. The aquarium took 18 months to build. In 2000, the re-opening of the aquarium changed its name to Underwater Adventures Aquarium. In 2008, the aquarium became a part of British-based Merlin Entertainments group of attractions, and was rebranded as a Sea Life Centres in March 2011.
In the summer of 2009, the aquarium debuted a brand new exhibit, Seahorse Kingdom, as well as a brand new touch pool for guests to interact more with sea life. This touch pool will be replaced with two new ones following the renaming.
In March 2010, Jellyfish Discovery was opened as the largest jellyfish exhibit worldwide.
In March 2011, SeaLife officially completed the transition to a Merlin Entertainments' Sea Life Centre, and was renamed Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium. The re-brand featured updated theming throughout the aquarium and many new exhibits, including: a Caribbean tank, featuring Moray Eels and Lionfish, Ray Lagoon, an interactive Stingray exhibit, touch pools, Garden Eels, a new Octopus, and Harbor exhibit.
In March 2012, Mysteries of the Rainforest was opened and features many new species of live animals, including: Spectacled Caiman, Poison Dart Frogs, Tortoises, Piranha and more.
In April 2016, Shark Discovery was opened and features interactive elements designed to educate visitors on shark-friendly fishing methods and conservation.
When the aquarium reopened in 2011 as Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, the visitor flow through the aquarium was reversed and a moving sidewalk feature in the tunnels was removed.
Stingray Adventure, opened Spring 2015, is the first exhibit guests can visit when entering the aquarium. It features a Pacific Northwest Rockpool, Shipwreck and Ray Pool where guests of all ages can touch and feed the stingrays.
Jellyfish Discovery features different kinds of jellyfish including pacific sea nettles, lagoon jellyfish, spotted jellyfish, blue blubber jellyfish, moon jellyfish, and cone jellyfish. This exhibit highlights interesting facts about jellyfish and includes trivia.
Shark Discovery features interactive exhibits designed to teach visitors about shark conservation. This exhibit includes both digital and traditional interactives.
Seahorse Kingdom features six species of seahorse, including pregnant seahorse fathers and baby seahorses, and was added in 2009 along with the touch pool. Sea Life has been a pioneer in the field of Seahorse breeding, successfully breeding and rearing nine different species to date to help this very sensitive and endangered sea creature from facing extinction.
After Coral caves, visitors enter The Tunnel, a 300-foot (91 m) acrylic tunnel that goes through four tanks: Rainbow Reef, Atlantis, Wild Amazon, and Sturgeon Lake.
Sharky, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium's mascot, roams the Mall of America, shaking hands with shoppers, hugging fans, and posing for photos. He is often accompanied by aquarium employees with discount coupons for the aquarium, and/or stickers for children. Sharky can also be found at many offsite events. Like many mascots, Sharky never speaks, though he clearly understands English and replies by pantomime.
The aquarium has several additional adventures for a fee, including:
Sea Life Minnesota also hosts birthday parties, wedding proposals, and even an underwater wedding.
On February 1, 2008, a young female white tip reef shark was attacked by a larger sandtiger shark named Jesse, in full view of the public. The young shark survived the attack and made a full recovery.