SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — A new aquarium is opening in Downtown San Antonio tomorrow that is giving new life to RiverCenter.

SEA LIFE San Antonio was built into the defunct Dillard’s department store in the mall and features more than 3,000 fresh water and sea critters swimming around in more than 200,000 gallons of water.

The project was first announced back in 2017 with plans to open in early 2020, but Chase Hathaway, marketing manager at Merlin Entertainment, says COVID-19 put a pause on the plans.

Merlin Entertainment is the parent company of both SEA LIFE aquariums and LEGOLAND, and San Antonio is now home to both side-by-side at RiverCenter. Guests will be greeted to a full LEGO display as they get ready to depart on an underwater adventure with SEA LIFE.

“We are so excited now to have it ready and perfect for our fish, our creatures and also our guests,” Hathaway said.

After descending into the main attraction, guests will have the chance to get up close and personal with tunnels, special fish-bowl shaped windows as well as windows meant for small children to get their own unique view of the sea-life from their own perspective.

All of the wildlife come from the SEA LIFE conservation and breeding program that all 50 SEA LIFE programs take part in across the globe as well as accredited aquariums and fish breeders from as far as Australia.

“Our top priority is conservation and animal welfare,” Hathaway said.

The centerpiece of the aquarium is a massive 160,000 gallon ocean with more than 1,000 creatures including an eight-foot zebra shark named Solomon who moved to San Antonio from the SEA LIFE facility in Grapevine, Texas.

The 50-foot ocean tunnel is the only of its kind in San Antonio and features a 15-foot hand-carved statue of Blackbeard that was crafted locally.

The adventure includes 10 interactive zones, including a rock pool where guests will have the chance to touch sea stars, sea nominees and sea urchins.

SEA LIFE San Antonio will open its doors to the public on Tuesday with a special grand opening event that includes live feedings, a special performance by a local mariachi group and visits with a pirate and mermaid.

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