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The New England Aquarium is an educational and entertainment venue that engages thought and discussion about oceanic issues. Through educational programs, conservation initiatives, and interactive displays, the aquarium teaches nearly 1.3 million annual visitors about the ocean environment, animals, and current problems regarding the oceanic climate. Current exhibits include Penguinology, where visitors can see and learn about the Little Blue Penguin, the African Penguin, and the Rockhopper Penguin; Giant Ocean Tank; Yawkey Coral Reef Center; Blue Planet Action Center; The Trust Family Foundation Shark and Ray Touch Tank; Edge of the Sea; Gulf of Maine; New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center; Pacific Reef Community; Seadragons; Atlantic Harbor Seals; and Amazon Rainforest. Through these exhibits, visitors can see and learn about penguins, green sea turtles, Cownose Rays, Balloon fish, green anacondas, Atlantic Harbor Seals, Moon Jelly, Leafy Seadragons, California Sea Lions, Northern Fur Seals, American Lobsters, North Atlantic Right Whales, and the Giant Pacific Octopus.

  • The New England Aquarium (image from
  • The New England Aquarium's Giant Ocean Tank (image from The New England Aquarium)
  • Inside the Giant Ocean Tank (image from The New England Aquarium)
  • Myrtle in the Giant Ocean Tank (image from Boston Spirit Magazine)
  • Coral Reef Exhibit (image from The New England Aquarium)
  • Shark and Ray Touch Tank (image from The New England Aquarium)
  • Sea Dragons Exhibit (image from The New England Aquarium)
  • Penguin chicks hatched at the New England Aquarium (image from Zooborns)

The private, non-profit New England Aquarium (NEAQ) opened on June 20, 1969 and has since undergone several renovations and expansions to create the amazing experience it is today.  Over the years, the aquarium has welcomed and made a home for many different species, including Myrtle the Green Sea Turtle, who was acquired in 1970 and is still at the aquarium today.  In 1971, the Harold E Edgerton Laboratory was constructed and in 1974, the barge Discovery was brought next door to the aquarium.  During the 2000s, the aquarium underwent several more expansions and renovations, welcomed new animals, and created more interactive exhibits and programs that visitors can enjoy.

A Brief History of Boston Aquariums and the NEAQ

The New England Aquarium is the fourth aquarium in Boston's history. Boston's first aquarium, The Boston Aquarial Gardens, opened in 1859--the first public aquarium in the world dedicated solely to exhibiting marine life. A year and a half later, in 1860, the organization was moved to Central Court and renamed The Boston Aquarial and Zoological Gardens. When the venture proved unprofitable by 1863, the Gardens were closed. Not until 1912 did another aquarium open: the South Boston, which operated until 1954. When the South Boston Aquarium closed, plans for a new, non-profit aquarium were discussed, and in 1957, the New England Aquarium Corporation was formed, David B. Stone being the principal founder. The aquarium opened in 1969 on the waterfront, which, at the time, was a neglected area of Boston; its presence has helped revitalize the area.

In 1977, the NEAQ started a program to rescue stranded marine mammals in the New England area, and in 1980 a NEAQ research team discovered a large group of right whales, thought to be nearly extinct, in the Bay of Fundy. The NEAQ's ongoing right whale research project is one of the oldest whale studies in the world. Aside from its functions as a museum and educational center, the NEAQ has been involved in species and habitat conservation on a global scale for over 20 years, climate change research and reporting in conjunction with the National Science Foundation, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, renewable energy development, research on marine GIS (Global Information Systems), research on the health and effects of stress on marine animals, global ocean expeditions, and more.