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Seattle Aquarium

Art work on display at the Seattle Aquarium.

By Tony Griffitts

In late December 2006 I had the opportunity to visit the Seattle Aquarium located on Pier 59 in downtown Seattle along Puget Sound.  The aquarium is run by a division of the Seattle Parks and Recreation.  The Seattle Aquarium is supported by the Seattle Aquarium Society, a non profit fundraising organization.  General admission price for this aquarium was surprising much less than expected, only $12.50 per person, that's half the price of some other public aquariums.

Sea Otter

One of the many Sea Otters on display.

To the right of the walkway on the way up to entrance to the Seattle Aquarium you are greeted by a large aquarium built in to the exterior wall that contains native fishes and invertebrates of Washington State waters.  This unique display allows visitors to get a glimpse of what lies behind the wall.  This aquarium has several large displays which include seals, sea otters, North American river otters, sea birds, and other Washington sea life.  Some of the native fish on display are quite interesting and would probably have a retail hobbyist market if it were not for the cold water they need to survive.  The Seattle Aquarium also has quite a few very well done tropical marine displays. 

Hydrolagus collieiChirolophis decoratusWolf EelRhamphocottus richardsoni

A few of the many native Washington fishes on display, left to right, Spotted Ratfish (Hydrolagus colliei), Warbonnet (Chirolophis decoratus), Wolf Eel (Anarrhichthys ocellatus), and Grunt Sculpin (Rhamphocottus richardsoni).

Seattle Aquarium also has on display the largest species of Octopus in the world, the Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini).  The jellyfish display allows visitor to walk through an aquarium that is shaped like a doughnut.  Touch pools allow visitors to touch some of the sea life that can be found in tide pools along the coast.  A 400,000 gallon (1,520,000 liter) dome aquarium provides a 360° view of Salmon, Rockfish (Sebastes sp.), sharks, sturgeon, halibut, ling cod, as well as many other fish.

400,000 gallon aquarium.

The 400,000 gallon (1,520,000 liter) "Dome" aquarium has the look and feel of the Star Ship Enterprise.

Tropical marine environments are also very well represented with many large displays dedicated to coral reef life.  A fish only artificial reef 25,000 gallon (95,000 liter) system, cuttlefish/reef aquarium display, anthius display, pinecone fish display, and many reef tanks are just a few of the many tropical displays.

CuttlefishGiant Clam in a reef tank.Mushroom anomones (Discosoma sp.).Pacific Blue Tang, Ocellaris Clownfish, and Emperor Angelfish.

Above are some of the tropical marine animals on display at the Seattle Aquarium.

The Seattle Aquarium has a saltwater sales program they offer to local marine hobbyist.  Marine hobbyist can buy UV sterilized, filtered sea water from the aquarium for only 5¢ a gallon.

Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini).

A visitor getting a close up look of the Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) on display.

The future is bright for the Seattle Aquarium with a new $41 million expansion project nearing completion in June of 2007, the "Window on Washington Waters" 120,000 gallon (456,000 liter) exhibit will be completed.  This display will have an acrylic window that is 38 feet long by 17 feet high, 13 inches thick, and weights 27 ½ tons. 

The Seattle Aquarium does a very good job with providing many displays showcasing the diverse sea life not only of the Pacific Northwest, but also from the tropics.  The general admission price makes this one of the best values for a public aquarium.  If you live in the Seattle area or are visiting the area, the aquarium is a must see.

Published - 20070119


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