The Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration is an aquarium and oceanography institute in Mystic, Connecticut. The Aquarium is one of only four U.S. facilities nation where people can see Steller sea lions and has one of the largest outdoor Beluga Whale exhibits in the United States. It is also among the first aquariums to attempt artificial insemination on a Beluga Whale. Some other exhibits include a ray and shark touch pool, a penguin exhibit, and a jelly gallery.
The aquarium is a member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA) and is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Mystic Aquarium was first opened in 1973 as a privately owned corporation. Industrialist, philanthropist, and principal shareholder Kelvin Smith chose Mystic, Connecticut as the site for the aquarium because of the area's scenic shoreline and rich maritime history. In 1999, the aquarium and Ballard's Institute for Exploration combined to form a $52 million dollar expansion. The expansion featured the Arctic Coast, which is a 1-acre (4,000 m2) outdoor beluga whale display, containing 750,000 US gallons (2,800 m3) of water.
There has also been an additional exhibit added to the Challenge of the Deep exhibit; where Dr. Robert Ballard's explorations are on display. The XD Theater is also running year round at the aquarium featuring four different 3-D movies as well as having a moving theater for a real ride! The movies include "Deep Sea 3-D" as well as Sea Scare and a Roller coaster movie.