Mystic Aquarium

© Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Marinelife Aquarium was founded in 1973 to serve as a living laboratory and major public exhibit, highlighting some of the most intriguing species in the world.

Go to Ticket Page

Go to Encounters Page

The Aquarium established itself as a progressive research entity under the leadership of its first director, Dr. Stephen Spotte, whose publications became the cornerstone of modern aquarium keeping. Initially, it was operated by a privately owned, for-profit corporation. The principal shareholder was Ohio industrialist and philanthropist Kelvin Smith. Mr. Smith was a practicing chemist with an interest in marine biology. In the 1950s, while on the Board of Trustees at the Cleveland Science Museum, Smith began working with fellow chemist and board member William Kelley. Together, Smith and Kelley developed “Instant Ocean,” a product that allowed labs and aquariums to create artificial seawater. This product is used at Mystic Aquarium and other institutions worldwide. Mystic Marinelife Aquarium, Inc. provided a venue to highlight this product.

Beluga whales first arrived at Mystic Aquarium in 1975. The whales were collected in Churchill, Manitoba and in 1996 The Seal Rescue Clinic was built. The clinic serves as a temporary home for seals undergoing rehabilitation before release back into the wild.

In July 1997, The Aquarium welcomed the addition of the Institute for Exploration, founded by explorer, oceanographer and JASON Project founder Dr. Robert Ballard. Dr. Ballard brought his desire to share with the world the wonders of the deep ocean and the emerging science of deep-water archaeology. The Mystic Marinelife Aquarium became Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration.  Immersion Learning, Sea Research’s national education division, was founded in 2002 by Dr. Stephen Coan and Dr. Robert Ballard and in 2010 the Sea Research Foundation opened the Nautilus Live Theater in the Challenge of the Deep exhibition and launches Both allow people around the world to virtually join Dr. Robert Ballard and his team aboard his ship the E/V Nautilus and follow the expedition in real time.

Sea Research Foundation marked the centennial of the maiden voyage and tragic loss of the RMS Titanic with the opening of Titanic – 12,450 Feet below. This exciting new exhibit was a collaboration between Dr. Robert Ballard, who found her in 1985, and former Disney Imagineer Tim Delaney, and was made possible by a $1 million donation from United Technologies Corporation. Located in the renamed Ocean Exploration Center, the exhibit promises Titanic fans of all ages the chance to experience the fanfare of her maiden voyage, the fateful night of her sinking and the moment she was found.

Today Sea Research is an active member of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA). In addition, the Aquarium’s professional staff is affiliated with several industry organizations.