Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium
the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium seen from the Yarra River in February 2018
37°49′16″S 144°57′29″E / 37.821044°S 144.958017°E / -37.821044; 144.958017
Date openedJanuary 2000; 24 years ago (2000-01)
LocationMelbourne CBD, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
No. of animals10,000+
No. of species550+
Volume of largest tank2,200,000 litres (480,000 imp gal; 580,000 US gal)
Annual visitorsOver 10 million
Major exhibitsPenguin Playground, Ocean Invaders, Bay of Rays, Discovery Rockpools, Crocodile Lair, Coral Atoll, Shipwreck Explorer, Seahorse Pier, Rainforest Adventure

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium is a Southern Ocean and Antarctic aquarium in central Melbourne, Australia. It is located on the banks of the Yarra River beside and under the Flinders Street Viaduct and the King Street Bridge. The attraction is a Sea Life Centre owned by Merlin Entertainments.[1]


The current building was built between February 1998 and December 1999,[2] the building was designed by Peddle Thorp architects to resemble a ship moored to the river, and opened in January 2000.[3] The depth of the building however was designed not to be imposing at street level, and extends 7 metres (23 ft) below the surface. At its centre is a world first 2,200,000-litre (580,000 US gal) 'oceanarium in the round' where the spectators become the spectacle to the marine life swimming around them.[4][5]

Soon after opening, the building had a legionnaires disease outbreak that resulted in 4 deaths and another 125 people being infected. Those affected had visited the aquarium between 11 and 27 April 2000. A damages action was brought in May 2000, ending in February 2004.[6]

On 28 November 2008 Melbourne Aquarium officially reopened after a significant expansion, also designed by Peddle Thorp, and now extends from the Yarra River to Flinders Street. A new entrance was built on the corner of Flinders and King Streets. The expansion features exhibits with king penguins and gentoo penguins, as well as many Antarctic fish, a first for Australia. The exhibits also feature real ice and snow to simulate Antarctic conditions, and take visitors on an expedition to Antarctica.[7] The penguins were sourced from Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World in New Zealand.

In April 2013, Melbourne Aquarium's owners, Merlin Entertainments, announced that they would be spending $8 million on the refurbishment of the facilities. As part of the process, the aquarium was rebranded as a Sea Life Centre and relaunched in September 2013.[8]

The current Aquarium succeeded an earlier site in the Eastern annex of the Royal Exhibition Building, which burned down in 1953.


The Aquarium has a one-way self-guided tour, which is spread over four levels:

Level One

Ground Floor

Level B1

Level B2

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium view from the Queen's Bridge, before the rebranding

The aquarium is known for its main exhibit, the 2.2 million litre Mermaid Garden oceanarium, which features a grey nurse shark and sandbar whaler sharks, along with up to 2,000 marine creatures of diverse species.

Research and conservation

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium conducts extensive research into marine species, with the Aquarium's conservation efforts overseen by the Turtle Rehabilitation and Conservation of Keystone Species (T.R.A.C.K.S.) group, a subsidiary of the Sea Life Conservation Trust.

Past attractions

Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium formerly had a giant squid exhibit (frozen, not alive), which was moved to UnderWater World in Queensland.[24][25] The Aquarium was also home to angler fish, the Japanese spider crab, jellyfish, blood sucking leeches, horseshoe crabs, venomous scorpions and tarantulas.


In 2012, Merlin Entertainments, the global owner and operator of the Sea Life Centres brand as well as iconic brands such as Legoland and Madame Tussauds, purchased the Living and Leisure Group, then the owner-operators of the Melbourne Aquarium.[1]

In late 2013, after an extensive $8 million investment and redevelopment by Merlin Entertainments, the aquarium relaunched under the Sea Life brand, joining up to 100 Merlin-owned attractions worldwide.


See also


  1. ^ a b "Merlin confirms Living and Leisure Australia takeover - Australasian Leisure Management". Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  2. ^ "Melbourne Aquarium". Frommer's. Retrieved 20 July 2008.
  3. ^ "Melbourne Aquarium". The Great Outdoors. Yahoo!7. Retrieved 20 July 2008.
  4. ^ "Melbourne Aquarium, Stage 1". Peddle Thorp Architects. Peddle Thorp Group. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  5. ^ "Melbourne Aquarium". City of Melbourne What's On. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  6. ^ Peter Gregory (3 February 2004). "Victims of legionnaires' disease win battle". The Age. Retrieved 20 July 2008.
  7. ^ "Melbourne Aquarium, Stage 2". Peddle Thorp Architects. Peddle Thorp Group. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  8. ^ "Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium relaunching in September 2013!" (Press release). Melbourne Aquarium. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  9. ^ "Explore - SEA LIFE Melbourne". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Explore - SEA LIFE Melbourne". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  11. ^ "King and Gentoo Penguins - SEA LIFE Melbourne". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  12. ^ "Explore - SEA LIFE Melbourne". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Explore - SEA LIFE Melbourne". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Rays and Sawfish - SEA LIFE Melbourne". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Explore - SEA LIFE Melbourne". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Conservation - SEA LIFE Melbourne". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Explore - SEA LIFE Melbourne". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Explore - SEA LIFE Melbourne". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  19. ^ "Explore - SEA LIFE Melbourne". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  20. ^ "Explore - SEA LIFE Melbourne". Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Australia hatches first IVF shark". Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  22. ^ Melbourne Aquarium, Conservation Archived 19 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 6 April 2012.
  23. ^ "SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium lends a helping hand to a critically endangered fish".
  24. ^ Holroyd, Jane (21 December 2005). "New squid on the (ice) block". The Age. Retrieved 9 January 2021.
  25. ^ AmyRemeikis. "Squid on the move". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 9 January 2021.