Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium on Auckland’s waterfront celebrates its 30th anniversary of breeding, rescuing and protecting sea life in January 2015.
To mark the anniversary, the iconic destination is inviting people to share their personal memories of what was the world’s first ‘underwater’ aquarium.
It is estimated more than 11.5 million visitors have been both wowed and educated at the aquarium since Kelly Tarlton designed and constructed the attraction in what were disused sewage tanks.
Anyone who has photos or videos of themselves at Kelly Tarlton’s is invited to send them in, along with a written memory of up to 100 words. Each person who sends in a ‘non-returnable’ photograph will receive a Kelly Tarlton’s birthday gift of one single pass to get the chance to make new memories.
A selection of memories will be displayed on a special memory wall at the attraction, to be unveiled in January.
Memories can be submitted as original images, scanned copies or a digital version through kellytarltons.co.nz/30th-birthday otherwise memories can be posted to: PO Box 42021, Orakei, Auckland, 1071.
Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium’s general manager, Philip McGowan says they are thrilled the visitor attraction has reached 30 years of operation.
“It is a testament to Kelly’s vision that the aquarium has stood the test of time and it continues to make a significant contribution to Kiwis’ understanding of and love of the ocean and its amazing creatures.
“Kelly had a vision for the aquarium that had never been imagined before. He visited aquariums around the world and examined many sites before settling on the redundant stormwater and sewage tanks at Takaparawha Point on Auckland’s waterfront,” Mr McGowan says.
In April 1984 construction began on the 2.4 metre-diameter tunnel and moving platform walkways. Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World opened on January 25, 1985 and exceeded Kelly’s aim of 200,000 visitors in its first year. Just seven weeks after opening Kelly personally greeted the 100,000th visitor, making his 18-hour work days worth it. Tragically, that night, Kelly died of a heart condition aged only 47. Thirty years on, his widow, Rosemary, remembers her husband’s magnificent legacy.
“I know Kelly would be extremely proud of how his legacy has been continued. When he established Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World in 1985 he did so with a vision to bring awareness and enjoyment of the underwater world to the people, while educating them on the importance of protecting marine species and their environment.
“In the last 30 years, Kelly Tarlton’s aquarium and those that have emulated his concept have inspired people in many ways. Some people have undertaken marine conservation efforts, some became marine biologists, some learnt to scuba dive and others pick plastic off the beach to help save sea creatures and birds. Collectively they are all conveying the values Kelly strove to share.”