The Texas State Aquarium, located on 7.3 acres on the southernmost tip of Corpus Christi Beach in Corpus Christi, is operated by the Texas State Aquarium Association, a nonprofit, self-supporting organization established in 1978. Efforts to fund a public aquarium in South Texas first began in 1952. Several nonprofit organizations founded over the years eventually grew into the Texas State Aquarium Association. Since 1978 the association has raised more than $28 million in private and public funding for the construction and operation of the aquarium. The city of Corpus Christi provided $14.5 million, of which $4 million came from a bond issue. In 1985 the Sixty-ninth Texas Legislature declared the project the "Official Aquarium of the State of Texas." Construction of the first phase of the project, the Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones Gulf of Mexico Exhibit Building, began in September 1988 and was completed in July 1990. Phase II is to include the Education, Research, and Administration Building; Phase III will be the Caribbean Building; and Phase IV will be the Gulf-Caribbean Marine Mammal exhibit facility. The aquarium's exhibits and research focus on the plants and animals of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The Texas State Aquarium is the first facility in the United States to do so.