Corpus Christi, nicknamed the “Sparkling City by the Sea” has added one more to its already long list of reasons to visit the Gulf Coast city. The Texas State Aquarium recently unveiled its newest addition, Caribbean Journey which showcases the biodiversity of the Yucatan Peninsula and Caribbean Sea. The addition doubles the size, number of animals and programming to the already large facility.
“Because of the proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, and the many connections Texas has with Mexico, we felt focusing on the Caribbean would be a compelling narrative. It also provided an opportunity to showcase large sharks, tropical fish, birds and other animals that were not interpreted in our Gulf of Mexico program,” said Tom Schmid, President & CEO of Texas State Aquarium.
Visiting the aquarium is truly like stepping into a different land, with birds everywhere and a variety of animal habitats. Gone are the days of peering at animals in uniform enclosures; this is truly an immersive experience. Peek behind a tree or bush and you are likely to find another animal. You can also just sit and listen to all the different sounds that greet you.
“We wanted to immerse our guests in the Yucatan forest, the coastal habitats, allow them to experience what it is like be like to be underwater in the Caribbean Sea. If our guests learn about these animals and where they live, if they can form an emotional connection, we feel there’s an opportunity for them to make a difference in their lives that would support wildlife conservation. That could be anything from reducing the amount of single-use plastic that they consume, to making a contribution to a conservation organization, such as the Amigos de Sian Ka’an, that is helping to conserve and protect this region,” said Schmid.
Although all the exhibits are impressive, you can’t help but stop in awe of the 68-foot-long window peering into the Caribbean Sea Shark exhibit. Not only will you see several different species of sharks, you will also be in the longest aquarium tunnel in North America. There is an impressive list of non-swimmers for you to explore, as well. Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth, boa constrictors, Morolet’s crocodiles, bats and a variety of birds are just a small sample of what there is to see in the new exhibit.
During the first 30 days, about 80,000 guests experienced the Caribbean Journey at the Texas State Aquarium which is a 40% increase over the same period in 2016. “The feedback has been truly remarkable and it has been humbling to receive so many wonderful compliments and to watch families reactions as they tour through the new space,” said Schmid.
You might be tempted to spend all of your time at the Texas State Aquarium, but Corpus Christi has so much to offer that you will have a hard time deciding what to do. If you’re looking for a place to stay, the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel has great amenities and is centrally located. Stop by the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History or the Art Museum of South Texas and plan to spend a little time at the USS Lexington, a CV-16 World War II aircraft carrier.
Fun in the water is a must if you are visiting Corpus Christi and the city delivers in spades. Visit Padre Island National Seashore for fun on the beach, fishing, birding or even watch a sea turtle hatchling release. If hanging out poolside is more your speed, visit Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi or Hurricane Alley for some waterpark fun. Watch some good baseball at Whataburger Field with the Corpus Christi Hooks, a Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros.
Corpus Christi, the Texas State Aquarium and other area attractions received minimal damage during Hurricane Harvey – they are open and ready to make your getaway one to remember. The Caribbean Journey might take you to Corpus Christi, but the great food, places to visit and nature to explore will keep you in the “Sparkling City by the Sea”.
Gabi De la Rosa lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and three kids. If you don’t find her in front of her computer you’ll likely find her exploring Houston with her family.