To support NOAA Fisheries' efforts to manage living marine resources, and to inspire in visitors a sense of stewardship through interpretative tours, exhibits, educational programs, and live displays of protected species, local species, and species of economic, scientific and cultural importance.
Established in Woods Hole in 1885, the WHSA is the country’s oldest marine aquarium. It is owned by the federal government and operated by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, in partnership with the Marine Biological Laboratory. The aquarium features:
- Non-releaseable harbor seals
- Animals of the Northeast and Middle Atlantic waters
- Exhibit cases with bones, skulls, and teeth
- Information about marine animals, marine environments, endangered species, marine science, and resource management issues
- Touch tanks where you may find lobsters, tautogs, quahogs, horseshoe crabs, spider crabs, sea stars (starfish), and hermit crabs
Visitors are allowed behind the scenes, where they can watch the staff feed animals, clean tanks, and work on the life support systems. Approximately 80,000 people visit the aquarium every year, including 10,000 children in school groups.