Seattle Aquarium staff members collect sea otter foraging data
The Aquarium’s Curator of Conservation Research Shawn Larson and Biologist Caroline Hempstead recently spent two days on the Washington Coast watching wild sea otters eat.
A bit of background: sea otters are the only marine mammals that prey exclusively on shallow or intertidal macro-invertebrates such as clams, crabs and sea urchins. Because they are relatively shallow divers, most sea otters forage close to shore. And because they bring their prey to the surface for consumption, it is relatively easy to observe what they’re eating with high-resolution telescopes.
Why look so closely at what sea otters are eating? The information is helpful in understanding the health of Washington’s wild sea otter population—and it’s helpful in a much larger way as well. Sea otter foraging data can also help lead to a better understanding of the health of our nearshore ecosystem in general.
Sea otters are a keystone species, which means they have a disproportionately large effect on their environment relative to their abundance. They were hunted to near extinction in the mid- to late 1700s and, despite a variety of protections, their populations have not returned to their previous levels. They were reintroduced to the Washington coast in 1970 and since then, the local population has grown and thrived.
Continued monitoring of this keystone carnivore’s foraging behaviors is essential to tracking the impact of a variety of factors including ocean acidification, rising sea levels, climate change and human development on the nearshore ecosystem. The research will also help with efforts to forecast the impacts of these factors in the future.
T. Rowe Price sponsors Aquarium’s popular Toddler Time program
The Aquarium’s popular Toddler Time program just attracted a new sponsor: the T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan, which is also a longtime sponsor of the Splash! art contest.
The T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan is committed to supporting programs that enhance educational opportunities and enrich community life. Company representatives felt that Toddler Time aligns well with both of these goals: it engages parents and children to work together while providing learning experiences—and also allows families to begin the conversation about the importance of education, which includes setting financial goals.
The T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan stance is that it’s never too soon to start saving for your child's future. Starting early and saving regularly can help to save more toward your child's future higher educational costs and also help to reduce future student loan debt. The extra savings could go a long way toward expanding your child's educational options.
Each family's educational savings goals are unique and The T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan is committed to helping families save for college. Thank you to T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan for sponsoring this important program!
Toddler Time is an educational program for children 5 and under, who attend with a parent or adult caregiver. The program is free and included with Aquarium admission. Each session features a variety of marine-themed, hands-on activities for young children to explore. Toddler Time is offered on select Monday and Tuesday mornings in the fall and winter each year; this year’s programming runs through February 25. Visit our website for details and the schedule.
10 years and counting: Q & A with volunteer Hideko Takahashi
Hideko Takahashi is not only an acclaimed children’s book illustrator—she’s also a longtime Seattle Aquarium volunteer. Below she shares thoughts and insights about the marine environment and her experiences at the Aquarium.
Q: When and how did your love of the marine world begin?
A: When I was 7, I visited an aquarium for the first time—a small one in Osaka, Japan—and the experience stuck with me. Since then, I’ve visited as many other aquariums as I can, including the large one in Osaka, Monterey Bay, Long Beach, Vancouver, New England, and the Seattle Aquarium of course!
Q: What keeps you coming back as a Seattle Aquarium volunteer?
A: I learn something new every week, and I enjoy that. There are always new facts about animals or exhibits to learn. I also really like the enrichment that’s given by staff member Heidi Ebel at the beginning of each volunteer shift. There’s always new information, some of it about current exhibits, and some of it about outside influences on the environment and marine life, which Heidi customizes in a way that all of us can use.
Q: What aspect of the Aquarium’s mission is most important to you and why?
A: Education. I like helping all people learn.
Q: What would you tell a friend who asked you why the Aquarium is important?
A: Continuing to learn is important. I like caring for the animals. I wanted to be a zookeeper when I was young and this is a way to fulfill that passion.
Finding Vino wine-tasting event set for November 14
The Aquarium will host its annual wine-tasting event, Finding Vino, exclusively for donors at the Oyster Catcher level and above on Thursday, November 14.
Guests will have an opportunity to sample superb offerings from a variety of Pacific Northwest wineries—some new to the event; others, returning favorites. They’ll also enjoy entertainment provided by noted jazz pianist Deems Tsutakawa, who has established himself internationally as a distinctive and imaginative writer, arranger, producer and bandleader, as well as explosive solo pianist. Accompanying the wine and music will be an assortment of delectable hors d’oeuvres.
Visit our webpage to learn more about our premier donor clubs. You can also email Lori Montoya or call her at (206) 838-3912.
A message from our President & CEO
On October 23, I was honored to be among the speakers at a press conference hosted by the Washington Environmental Council and Climate Solutions, a regional nonprofit with a mission of accelerating practical and profitable solutions to global warming.
The press conference was held in advance of a public hearing that evening, convened by Governor Jay Inslee and the bipartisan Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup, to receive public testimony on how Washington should meet its climate pollution limits.
Along with speakers including King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Chamber of Commerce CEO Maud Daudon, Economist Tyler Comings of Synapse Energy Economics, and General Biodiesel Chair and Founder Yale Wong, I voiced my support for strong action from the Governor to limit costly climate pollution, create jobs and build a stronger economy in Washington State. I also noted that we are only beginning to understand the importance of the oceans to climate and ocean acidification to the world’s food supply.
The press conference’s Waterfront Park location, with its view of the solar array currently being installed on our Pier 59 roof, was the perfect underscore to the Aquarium’s commitment to serving as a role model and educating the community about what each of us can to do to curb ocean acidification and climate change.