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Texas State Aquarium Experience Not Hampered by COVID Protocols

Liko, Schooner, Kai, and Shadow, four bottlenose dolphins in Dolphin Bay at the Texas State Aquarium, are early risers. Courtesy photo

The Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi is the largest aquarium in Texas, ranks No. 4 in USA Today’s Top 5 Aquariums in North America 2020, and has been nominated as Best Aquarium in North America by a panel of experts in 2020 for the 10 Best Readers' Choice Award. Best of all, it is COVID-19 compliant, open for families, and safe to visit as we all struggle with pandemic protocols.

The aquarium did close at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, but staff quickly researched safety measures and adapted them to reopen in May. All of the aquarium’s favorite exhibits and shows are back. Changes include purchasing tickets online, wearing a mask inside the facility, and keeping socially distant from groups not your own.


The aquarium is split into two exhibits, one that explores the wildlife of the Gulf Coast and its newest addition, a 71,000-square-foot exhibit that explores the Caribbean Sea and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. The Caribbean Journey allows visitors to feel immersed in the jungles, seas, coral reefs, coastal lagoons, and other geographic sights of the area. The jungle level features flamingos, crocodiles, birds, bats, a sloth, and other species, all in an open-floor exhibit. No cages or wires stand between visitors and the wildlife that make their home there.

Among the most popular free-roaming resident of the Caribbean Journey is its sloth, Xena, usually found hanging around on a tree limb doing — well, not a whole lot. Staff are on hand to get you up close and personal with this amazing slow moving creature.

In the Coral Reef and Blue Hole exhibits on the bottom floor, you can walk through a shark tank, where the immense creatures swim all around you. Pet the stingrays and count the hundreds of colorful fish swimming in gigantic tanks. Scuba divers feed at certain times of the day. Check the schedule online.

The sharks are housed in a 400,000-gallon tank, complete with a life-size replica of a shipwreck. Sharks are viewed from a 68-foot-long display window, the longest in North America. Walk among the sharks through an acrylic tunnel.

A dining room with expansive windows looks out over the Caribbean Jungle exhibit, Corpus Christi Bay, the USS Lexington, the marina, and the downtown area on the top floor. It can be rented for private events, including weddings or corporate gatherings.

Next door, the Whataburger 4D theater puts viewers right in the movie action with amazing special effects.

The aquarium’s exhibits contain otters, octopuses, sea turtles, seahorses, crocodiles, hermit crabs, and raptors, including an American bald eagle.

The resident stars of the aquarium live in Dolphin Bay: Liko, Schooner, Kai, and Shadow. These four bottlenose dolphins put on daily shows and can be viewed throughout the day both above and below the tank. Take the sloping walkway under Dolphin Bay to see the dolphins cavort under the sea.

Bring the family to pet jellyfish, sharks, and stingrays! An aquatic nursery shows a jellyfish incubator in action.

The Texas State Aquarium focuses on education as well as entertainment and provides virtual classes, distance learning programs for homeschooling, camps, overnight visits, and story times all promoting science, technology, engineering, and math education.

The aquarium also plays a major role in conservation through its Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Center, which rehabilitates and, when possible, returns wild animals of land, sea, and air to their natural habitats.


In compliance with the governor's face mask order, the Texas State Aquarium requires all employees and visitors above the age of 10 to wear face coverings both indoors and outdoors and to maintain social distancing. Employees must also wear face coverings. Team members working directly with guests will wear gloves.

Hand-sanitizing and hand-washing stations are available throughout the venue. Surfaces including handrails, exhibit viewing windows, restrooms, and elevators are disinfected regularly.

The number of guests allowed to visit at a time is limited. Online ticket and parking purchases are requested — and recommended — to ensure admission. Members will continue to receive free admission.

The Validation Kiosk and Information Desk have a clear acrylic partition installed with an opening in the acrylic to validate paper tickets, electronic payments, and membership cards.

Strollers for rent and complimentary wheelchairs are sanitized before and after use.

Visitors follow a dedicated, one-way flow throughout the aquarium.

During spring and summer seasons, the H-E-B Splash Park is open. Café Aqua and Shoreline Grill transaction points use a clear acrylic partition for safe transactions. Shoreline Grill will have no indoor seating.

The Weston’s Library is closed until further notice.

Bathrooms are accessible throughout the aquarium and physical distance is encouraged while accessing them.

The Gulf of Mexico Family Restroom and Dolphin Bay Underwater Restrooms are closed to limit access to high-touch surfaces.

The Texas State Aquarium is located at 2710 N. Shoreline Blvd. in North Beach, Corpus Christi.

For more information, call 800-477-4853 (GULF) or 361-881-1230 and visit

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