In two months, the controversial Morro Bay Aquarium will close its doors.
On September 30, the existing lease expires. It was made with Dean and Bertha Tyler back in 1968. The City of Morro Bay is working with the Central Coast Aquarium on a new vision.
"Unfortunately, I’m very sad that it has to come to this era but in the meantime, I wrote a book so I could have a legacy to leave for the animals and for the Morro Bay Aquarium," said 94-year-old, Bertha Tyler.
Tyler and her late husband, Dean have run the Morro Bay Aquarium for more than 50 years.
"I will say, the Tyler’s, for decades really had been the marine mammal center before the marine mammal center existed," said Eric Endersby, City of Morro Bay Harbor Director. "They rehabilitated scores of animals in there and had done great things for the community."
As that chapter comes to a close, Central Coast Aquarium will take over the facility at the end of September. CCA is pre-approved for a $20,000,000 construction loan from the USDA.
The next step is a two-part economic feasibility study that got underway this month.
"Which will then give us options and will let us know, is it viable for this dream of a rebuilt aquarium," said Christine Johnson, Executive Director of the Central Coast Aquarium.
With the closure looming, the city and the CCA are working on a plan for what’s next.
"We’re hoping the doors don’t close entirely," Endersby said. "We’re hoping to have some kind of transition come in where Central Coast (Aquarium) comes in and operates on an interim basis."
"We are working here on what opportunity there would be for the public to have access to our touch tanks and set up an information kiosk letting them know about fundraising for the project," Johnson said.
Tyler who now keeps her decades of memories bound in a book says she’ll miss it.
"I know some people don’t agree with what we did but we did the best we could and we were happy doing it. It was all for the animals’ sake," Tyler concluded.
Tyler adds she plans on being a part of the community and volunteering once the lease is up.
The Central Coast Aquarium says it is now tasked with raising $21,000 for the second part of the feasibility study. If you’re interested in donating, you can contact them directly.
The Morro Bay Aquarium has since taken its marine mammals to another facility in Vallejo, California to live.
The other animals will also be removed by the end of the lease.
The soonest construction could get underway on a new aquarium is about three years.