Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium,formerly Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World is a public aquarium in Auckland, New Zealand that was opened in 1985. It was the brainchild of New Zealand marine archeologist and diver Kelly Tarlton (1937-1985). Built in disused sewage storage tanks, the aquarium used a new form of acrylic shaping, which allowed curved tunnels rather than viewing areas with flat panels only, as in previous aquariums.
The aquarium opened in 1985 after 10 months of construction. Tarlton developed a new method of building an acrylic tunnel by taking large sheets of clear acrylic, cutting them to size and heating them in an oven until they took the shape of the mould. Some of the sheets weighed over one tonne. Because of the refraction caused by light traveling through water, and the acrylic sheets used in the creation of the tunnel, the fish appear to be one third smaller than they are.
A 110-metre (360 ft) tunnel was created in sewage storage tanks that had been unused since the 1960s. The tanks are located below the suburb of Orakei, on Tamaki Drive and overlooking the Waitemata Harbour. Once the tunnels were in place and the tanks filled to test for leaks (none were found) a seascape of caves and reefs was created using concrete before the basins were filled in one section with a careful selection of more than 1,800 marine creatures.
Another section was filled with sharks (including bronze whaler, sevengill shark, wobbegong, school shark) and stingrays. The sharks are only held for a short period of time before being released back into the area where they were. In 1994 the facility was expanded to include a replica of the hut used by Captain Robert Falcon Scott on his tragic expedition to Antarctica, as well as a colony of Antarctic penguins in a climate controlled exhibit.
In December 2004 the aquarium opened Stingray Bay, which features a giant 350,000-litre (92,000 US gal) open topped tank that is 2.6 metres (8 ft 6.4 in) at its deepest point and constructed of crystal clear acrylic for optimum viewing. In 2008, Village Roadshow purchased the facility, for NZD $13 million. Village Roadshow also owns Sydney Aquarium, Oceanworld Manly, Sea World Gold Coast, and other venues.