Oregon Coast Aquarium unveils $18m expansion plans

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is raising $18.2 million for its capital campaign to remodel the facilities, enhance the education experience, and build a marine rehabilitation center.

As part of the campaign, which includes five main projects, the aquarium will renovate its entrance and grand hall, build a children’s nature play area, and remodel three indoor galleries.

Oregon Coast Aquarium has not had a major remodel since it opened in 1992. The annual economic impact of the attraction is more than $100 million.

“When the aquarium opened more than 25 years ago, it was never built to see the number of people that come through our doors,” said Oregon Coast Aquarium President and CEO, Carrie Lewis.

Capital campaign includes five main projects

“We welcome more than 420,000 guests each year, and attendance is growing. It’s time to update our exhibits. It’s time to improve the visitor experience. It’s time to provide a true facility for the animal rehabilitation that we do behind the scenes.”

The children’s nature play area will include new facilities, outdoor climbing features, and nature play components including a mock river chute, logs and tunnels.

The state-of-the-art marine rehabilitation center will provide a space for resident animal veterinary procedures.

It will also increase the capacity for research and learning, and give critical care to injured, stranded or endangered marine wildlife.

Improving the aquarium for visitors and marine animals

oregon coast aquarium

“The building is quite old and was originally built for retail storage, so we are working to do emergency triage and procedures within a building that is not suited for animal medical care,” said Evonne Mochon-Collura, a curator at Oregon Coast Aquarium.

“Over the last ten years, we have seen an increasing number of stranded sea turtles. We have had to redirect some of those animals to other places.

“If we had a larger building that we could devote to rehabilitation, we could actually increase our ability to accept wildlife that is sick or injured and provide care on a much greater scale.”

As part of the entrance renovations, there will be a new pathway and ticketing annex, as well as a remodelled café and a new exhibit with moon jellyfish.

Elsewhere, the Aquarium of Niagara is expanding with M&T Bank Shark & Ray Bay, a $1.85m shark and ray exhibit with interactive experiences.

Images: Oregon Coast Aquarium