The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Rockport Marine Lab opened in 1947 and featured an aquarium of local species. There were fourteen 200-gallon tanks, a shell collection, and a mounted fish display.
In 1960, the aquarium was remodeled to include ten 200-gallon tanks, two 1000-gallon tanks, and static displays on local research and management activities. The aquarium closed in 1985 due to lack of funding to support building structure reinforcement.
The dream to re-open the aquarium was kept alive over the next 20 years. Through the work of various community volunteers, Texas Parks and Wildlife tank donations, and city and county support, The Aquarium at Rockport Harbor opened July 20, 2007, with free admission, enjoying 4000 visitors in the first six months!
Celebrating ten years, the Aquarium is still growing, boasting 300,000 visitors in March 2017. It presently contains 22 tanks (designed for up-close viewing) displaying over 50 different species. There are numerous displays, exhibits, and hands-on kid activities to enhance the learning experience.
The mission of the Aquarium is to establish and maintain an Aquarium at Rockport Harbor that provides:
1) an educational and entertaining visitor experience promoting the understanding, conservation, and stewardship of marine resources and its environments;
2) living exhibits focusing on local species; and
3) static and changing displays providing opportunities for visitors of all ages to learn about research and management of coastal resources.
The Aquarium is a non-profit Texas Corporation with volunteers for management, docent, operation, and maintenance. The efforts are managed by a Board of Directors with committees responsible for all activities ranging for Executive Committee (providing day-to-day direction) to Volunteer Committee. These committees are defined in a Committee Policy and volunteers are always welcome. The Aquarium has two paid full-time employees. Brittiny Elman, the full-time Aquarist, and Angalee Marano, part-time Aquarist, are responsible for care and feeding of all marine life. Jessica Lindig, the full-time Administrator, coordinates activities between the Aquarium and the Education Center.