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Today's Family Magazine

Greater Cleveland Aquarium celebrates 10 years of educating & entertaining families

Greater Cleveland Aquarium first opened its doors in January of 2012.  Today the Aquarium is home to 3,600 animals representing 250 fresh and saltwater species, including some rare weedy seadragon hatchlings.  

“The weedy seadragon birth is a major accomplishment and we’re excited to document and share what we learn from the process with others focused on the care and conservation of this delicate species,” says curator Ray Popik. 

Exhibit design has everything to do with the Aquarium’s success—both rearing seadragons and in terms of the destination’s unique appeal—but retrofitting a historic brick powerhouse for an aquarium was not without its challenges, explains Mike Gorek, senior maintenance technician and exhibit diver.  “Finding opportunities in the limitations and figuring out how to create viable, one-of-a-kind habitats from scratch is a fun and rewarding part of my job.” Guests who have not visited the Aquarium since it opened will discover that all of its galleries have been re-themed to be immersive.

Species diversity, immersive décor, child’s eye-level exhibits and 360-degree views have solidified the downtown Cleveland attraction as a family-friendly tourist destination and contributed to the growing vibrancy of the community, asserts Neda Spears, office assistant.  When Spears began as an aquarium guest experience associate back in 2012, there wasn’t nearly as much activity in The Flats and the adjacent Gordon Square, Hingetown and Ohio City neighborhoods.  “Now there are any number of terrific eateries, breweries, shops, performance venues and trails for our team, guests and 15,000 passholders to enjoy.” 

Halle Minshall, dive safety coordinator, heads up a team of scuba divers responsible for underwater cleaning, husbandry maintenance and guest engagement.  She loves seeing visitors connect with the aquatic world.  “We encourage everyone to consider how their actions can impact waterways and the natural habitats of some pretty amazing animals,” says Minshall.  “I hope some guests are inspired to learn more about biology and marine science —and maybe even learn to scuba dive!” 

Greater Cleveland Aquarium is celebrating its 10th birthday all year long with giveaways, videos and programs.  Learn more and plan a visit at