Morro Bay Aquarium Project

Morro Bay Aquarium Project

Expansion Project Background

For nearly 25 years, the Central Coast Aquarium (CCA), located in Avila Beach, has been providing unique hands-on learning opportunities to children and adults in the fields of Marine Biology and Oceanography, as well as local history. The mission of the CCA is to cultivate a community dedicated to ocean stewardship through education, engagement, and action. The Central Coast Aquarium is a 501c3 non-profit organization (Tax ID number is 77-0479110).

In the fall of 2013, the City of Morro Bay issued a request for proposals for the complete redevelopment of the Morro Bay Aquarium on waterfront lease sites 69-70/69W-70W. As a result of that process, the City, CCA and Cal Poly’s Center for Coastal Marine Sciences proposed a public-private partnership for the purpose of collaborating on a redevelopment project for a new, state-of-the-art, public aquarium and marine science education research center in Morro Bay. In May 2016, the City approved a Consent of Landowner agreement with the CCA and set compliance dates.

The City of Morro Bay extended the compliance dates on the agreement to allow CCA to fundraise for the initial planning and permitting costs as well as capital costs associated with construction. CCA used the extensions to seek funding and is now pre-approved for a $20 million USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan to finance a new facility. USDA requires CCA to complete three studies prior to the release of funds: economic feasibility study, preliminary architectural report, and CEQA/NEPA-compliant technical environmental studies.

CCA has contracted with the well-respected firm, ConsultEcon, to conduct the economic feasibility study, and whose staff has experience guiding nonprofits, specifically zoos and aquariums, on strategies necessary to achieve economic viability. In addition, relationships are in place between CCA and EHDD, an architectural design firm with specialization in aquarium and zoo design, to complete the preliminary architectural report, as well as between CCA and Rincon Consultants who is the firm prepared to conduct the environmental review studies.

Economic Feasibility Study is Now Underway!

Phase A of a two-part economic feasibility study facilitated by ConsultEcon began on July 13, 2018 when the necessary funds were raised ($23,000). Fundraising is on going for Phase B to complete this critical study and $21,000 is the balance needed to complete the economic feasibility study. Phase A & B could be completed in 12 weeks based upon funding.

Donors will receive permanent, highly visible recognition in a future Morro Bay Aquarium as Visionary Circle Members of the Central Coast Aquarium Morro Bay. This one-time only recognition is available to any donor, at the $250 level or above, who donates during this phase of the project.

If you share our vision of a future that includes a new public aquarium and marine science education center on the Embarcadero in Morro Bay, join other and donate today!

For more information or to donate, contact Christine Johnson, Executive Director, Central Coast Aquarium, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 805-595-7280, extension 1002.