Located in Concord, North Carolina within the Concord Mills Mall, Sea Life Charlotte-Concord is a commercial aquarium facility showcasing displays of aquatic creatures, interactive touch pool exhibits, and a 360-degree walkthrough ocean tunnel.

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History

Sea Life Centres are a commercial chain of aquariums owned and operated by British corporation Merlin Entertainments, which was founded in 1998 and oversees more than 150 attractions, hotels, and resort villages worldwide, including LEGOLAND theme parks and Madame Tussaud’s wax museum attractions. The Sea Life franchise began as a seal sanctuary located in Oban, Scotland along the banks of Loch Creran which opened in 1979 and has today become the largest aquarium franchise in the world, showcasing more than 150,000 aquatic animals at its worldwide facilities. As of 2017, more than 50 Sea Life attractions were in operation throughout the world, including Sea Life Centres and miniature Sea Life feature attractions within other Merlin Entertainments attractions and resorts. The company is dedicated to marine conservation and research and operates a global Breed, Rescue, and Protect program ensuring the health and continuation of marine species worldwide. In 2014, the Sea Life Charlotte-Concord facility was opened within the Concord Mills Mall, a 1.4-million-square-foot shopping and entertainment center operated by the Simon Property Group.

Attractions:

Today, Sea Life Charlotte-Concord is owned and operated by Merlin Entertainments as part of the worldwide Sea Life franchise and offers a variety of permanent and rotating temporary exhibits related to marine ecosystems and aquatic wildlife. As an accredited Association of Zoos and Aquariums facility, the aquarium meets national animal care, conservation, and safety standards, with a focus on safe habitat housing for its aquatic residents and educational visitor experiences. The 36,000-square-foot aquarium facility contains more than 20 exhibits, with a focus on hands-on and up-close experiences with animals for children and families. Aquatic species housed at the facility include Great Pacific octopuses, blacktip reef sharks, Atlantic and cownose rays, sea stars, green sea turtles, and a variety of tropical fish species, including angel, clown trigger, and blue and yellow tang fish.

Exhibits at the aquarium include an Interactive Touch Pool, where visitors may safely interact up-close with sea stars, urchins, and hermit crabs. A Sting Ray Bay also allows for up-close experiences with the facility’s Atlantic and cownose rays, while Harbor and Tropical Ocean exhibit areas showcase marine wildlife native to shallow water areas. A 360-Degree Ocean Tunnel walkthrough tunnel is showcased as part of the Tropical Ocean exhibit, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in an underwater environment.

A Turtle Shelter highlights the unique shell patterns of species such as the diamondback terrapin, the common snapper, and the Australian snake-necked turtle and displays the aquarium’s giant radiated tortoise, named Fuji. At the aquarium’s Conservation Cove, marine conservation techniques are explored, including steps visitors can take to ensure marine ecosystem safety and preservation for future generations. A Jellyfish Exhibit showcases a variety of exotic jellyfish species, while a Shipwreck Exhibit is home to the facility’s Giant Pacific octopus. Young seahorses at the facility are also displayed in a Seahorse Nursery exhibit. Scavenger hunt booklets are provided for visitors to use as self-guided tour materials, highlighting facts about aquatic life and conservation efforts.

Ongoing Programs and Education

In addition to standard visitor admission, guided tours of Sea Life Charlotte-Concord are offered for small groups and organizations, including scouting groups, senior groups, and community organizations. Curriculum-incorporated field trip opportunities are offered for elementary school students and homeschool groups, offering behind-the-scenes tours and educational talks and workshops. A variety of public special events are hosted at the aquarium throughout the year, including a Seaster Easter celebration event with an Easter egg dive hunt and a Pirate Takeover event. Birthday party rental packages are also offered for young visitors wishing to celebrate their birthdays at the aquarium.

Concord Mills Mall

Sea Life Charlotte-Concord is housed within the Concord Mills Mall shopping center, which offers a wide variety of retail, restaurant, and entertainment facilities for visitors of all ages. As North Carolina’s most-visited tourist attraction, more than 17.6 million people visit the center annually. A variety of retail and outlet stores are offered at the center, including Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Best Buy, Books-A-Million, the Disney Store Outlet, and the LEGO Store. Other entertainment experiences at the center include an AMC Theatres movie theater and Dave and Buster’s restaurant and gaming facility. Dining options include Bonefish Grill, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Outback Steakhouse, and a full-service food court featuring options such as Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen. A number of hotels and restaurants are also located along nearby Concord Mills Boulevard as part of the extended mall complex area. Nearby attractions include the Charlotte Motor Speedway, which is located less than a mile from the center.

8111 Concord Mills Boulevard, Concord, NC 28027, Phone: 855-450-0512

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