SEWARD, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska SeaLife Center is in jeopardy of closing after concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have drastically reduced visitation rates.

A decision will be made on Oct. 1 regarding the future of the aquarium, KTUU-TV reported Monday.

As revenue from visits has whittled, the center has seen the costs of caring for its more than 4,000 animals stay stagnant. The CEO of the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Tara Reimer, said over half of the aquarium’s revenue comes from visitors.

The SeaLife Center, Seward’s second-largest employer, has asked the city for half a million dollars to offset their losses.

In the meantime, aquarium officials hope the public will come to the rescue. The SeaLife Center, which opened in 1998, is a private, non-profit corporation.

“The truth is that if every Alaskan contributed $5, we would be in wonderful shape right now,” Reimer said. “So we’re asking people to do what makes sense to them. That could be bringing your family to the SeaLife Center. That could be buying or renewing your membership.”

In a typical year, about 160,000 people will pay to spend time with the center’s assorted wildlife and take in its exhibits. This year, Reimer said, that number will be closer to 40,000.


This version corredts spelling of SeaLife throughout the story instead of Sealife.