COVID-19 update from Seattle Aquarium President & CEO

Seattle Aquarium building


Dear Aquarium Family,

I hope, first and foremost, that you are taking care of yourself and your loved ones during these unprecedented and difficult times. The closure of the Aquarium due to the COVID-19 crisis has been painful for the Aquarium staff, volunteers and board, our passionate members and supporters, and for me personally.

My heart goes out to each of you as we navigate this moment in history that has brought our great city to a standstill. I care deeply about this community. I grew up here. Molly and I raised our three boys here, and it is the deep connection we feel with our neighbors and broader community that makes this situation so difficult.

The Seattle Aquarium has been an important part of our city for decades and I take my responsibility as a steward of the organization very seriously. It is why, working with the board and our executive team, I made the difficult choice to temporarily close our doors to the public as a preventive measure to help slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus before it was mandated by Governor Inslee.

As a nonprofit that relies on visitors to fund nearly 85% of its programming, our closure has eliminated much of our income all at once.

I have always believed the staff and volunteers who give so much every day are truly what makes us a world-class aquarium—and yet, to keep our community safe and to get through these trying times, we’ve been forced to take drastic action. None of this is easy, and in our 43 years of operation we’ve never faced a similar situation.

As a direct result of lost revenue, school closures and canceled programming, we had to eliminate numerous staff positions and remaining staff face substantial furloughs to their hours or reductions in pay. While this has all been very difficult, we’re doing all we can for our employees and have committed to maintaining healthcare coverage for all furloughed staff for as long as possible.

Even with all our current challenges, our commitment to our animals and the health of our shared marine environment remains unwavering. We’re continuing to provide excellent care to every animal at the Aquarium and will continue to have 24-hour staff on site to ensure our animals’ needs are being met. It has also been confirmed that animal care staff and security have been listed as “essential workforce” during the most recent stay-at-home order from Governor Inslee.

We are continuing to monitor microplastic levels, conduct sea otter fieldwork, and in the coming days will be developing and releasing digital content to help educate the community from the comfort and safety of their own homes. We will be sharing that on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and I encourage you to check back often to experience the wonders of our blue planet.

Your Seattle Aquarium needs you. You can help continue our important conservation work and support the Aquarium as whole while we’re closed by making a donation on our website today.

With all that’s going on in the world I leave you with this thought: looking beyond today and into the future there will still be a Seattle. There will still be an ocean. And there will still be the Seattle Aquarium—engaging, educating, inspiring and mobilizing in support of our shared marine environment.

Seattle is resilient. We will get through this together.


Robert W. Davidson
President & CEO

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