E-Newsletter Articles

June 2014

Seattle Aquarium Wild Sharks Week reveals the truth behind these apex predators

Sixgill shark

Sharks have a bad rap in movies and on television. They’re portrayed as aggressive, man-eating beasts…but the truth is that they’re not as scary as you might think.

That’s the theme behind the Aquarium’s Wild Sharks Week event, which was launched several years ago in an attempt to counteract some of the popular misconceptions about sharks. “We want to tell the true story of sharks, not sensationalize them,” says Aquarium Promotions Coordinator Becky Bingham. “Our aim is to help people see how cool sharks are, and how important they are to the health of the ocean ecosystem. They’re not the people-killers that are portrayed in the media. In fact,” she says, “The largest shark species in the world eats plankton.”

Sharks are found all over the world, in every ocean—and even Puget Sound has its share, with seven different shark species sighted in our local waters. For the past several years, the Seattle Aquarium has been conducting research on sixgill sharks, an ancient and scantily understood species that is found in oceans all over the world, generally at depths below 200 feet. However, they’ve been sighted in waters as shallow as 20 feet in Puget Sound and British Columbia—providing us with a rare opportunity to learn more about them. Click here for more information about sixgills and the Aquarium’s research related to them.

We hope you’ll join us for this year’s Wild Sharks Week event, July 26–August 3. Highlights include the return of Sisbro Studios with their show, “The Shark Riddle;” a giant inflatable shark roaming throughout the Ackerley Foundation Puget Sound Hall; live diver events at our shark research station with chances to talk to the divers as they’re in the water below Pier 59; hands-on activities for kids; talks by shark experts; and more!

Our donors make a Splash!

Splash!2014 Seattle Aquarium fundraising gala

On Friday, June 6, 585 guests joined us for Splash!2014, enjoying a fantastic evening and helping to raise $930,378 during the event’s action-packed silent and live auctions. Thank you for helping to preserve our amazing Puget Sound so that future generations can enjoy it as we do now!

Splash! guests enjoyed hearing from two teens, Rachel and Tony, who have been inspired to care for, steward, and advocate for the health of our marine environment through their volunteer experiences at the Seattle Aquarium. If you weren’t able to join us, you can view photos from the event here.

Thank you to everyone who made Splash! a success. We are especially grateful to our honorary chairs, Lloyd and Janet Frink; our title sponsors, The Boeing Company and Snoqualmie Indian Tribe; our art contest sponsor T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan; and our conservation education fund sponsor, Wells Fargo. Our deep appreciation also goes to the dedicated staff and volunteers who gave unselfishly of their time. Last and most importantly, we thank you, the amazing donors who continue to support our mission: Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment. We couldn’t do it without you!

Meet us at the beach! Summer 2014 beach naturalist program begins

Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalist program

Summer is returning to Seattle—along with the Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists! This amazing crew of knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers is stationed at 11 local beaches on low-tide days throughout the summer. Click here for a complete schedule and please plan to join us at the beach sometime soon!

Now in its 15th year, the Beach Naturalist program was launched after Seattle Aquarium educators noticed many people and school groups enjoying local beaches—without necessarily understanding the environment, its fragility, or the animals they were seeing. The program has grown in popularity and exceeds its reach with every passing year. In the summer of 2013 alone, 52,266 contacts were made: a new record!

“The program has tremendous value for the public,” says Community Engagement Coordinator Janice Mathisen. “It creates a greater understanding of the different kinds of living things that Puget Sound beaches support. We’ve got amazing biodiversity here, so many nutrients in the water, and our unique gravel beaches. There’s really nowhere else like it.” She continues, “To have this diversity in a metropolitan area is pretty spectacular. And talking to people about it—whether they’re seeing things for the first time or are longtime beach lovers—is amazing.”

“The Beach Naturalist program is a logical, effective way to extend our mission beyond the walls of our facility,” Janice adds. And, thanks to the support of donors like you, the program is free to the public. What would Janice say to someone who has never experienced the Beach Naturalist program in action? “Try it, you’ll like it. Find your inner naturalist and join us!” she says.

Donor profile: Amy Sprangers

Amy Sprangers

Aquarium supporter Amy Sprangers has channeled her love of all things water-related into an important role on the Seattle Aquarium board of directors. Amy was elected to the board in 2012 and immediately jumped in to become the Splash! live auction chair in 2013 and co-chair of the Splash! committee for this year’s event, which took place on Friday, June 6. The event was a huge success (see related article for details)!

Amy’s leadership and energy, not to mention her connection to the Seahawks as their vice president, corporate partnerships and suites, meant there were exciting new attendees and auction items at this year’s event. As a once-in-a-lifetime treat, she arranged for the Lombardi Trophy to make a special appearance at the Aquarium during Splash! Delighted Seahawks fans had the chance to have their photo taken with the trophy, with the proceeds going to support the Aquarium’s youth and community engagement programs.

A Seattle native, Amy grew up on Bainbridge Island and has always enjoyed spending time in and around the water. A two-time Water Polo USA Junior National team member and accomplished swimmer, Sprangers now loves spending time with her four young children and husband Todd on the beach, in the pool, and, of course, at the Seattle Aquarium. What’s their favorite thing to do when they visit? Amy shares, "Our kids love the new harbor seal exhibit—how cool to actually be outside and up close to those personality-rich animals. The connection to the Sound is quite beautiful. And the shark camera is a favorite—who knew there are sharks underneath the pier?!" Thanks to you and supporters like Amy, there is always something new to discover at the Aquarium.

A message from our President & CEO

Bob Davidson

In the midst of planning for Splash!, our biggest fundraising event of the year, active planning for the Aquarium’s future continued as well. In addition to the architect chosen to lead the Aquarium’s expansion (Marc L’Italien of the San Francisco-based firm EHDD), our expansion design team also recently selected Tom Hennes, founder/principal of Thinc, as the exhibit designer for the master plan.

Thinc was chosen for its expertise in creating transformative experiences, most notably the California Academy/Steinhart Aquarium, which opened in 2008, and the 9/11 Memorial Museum, which opened last month. EHDD and Thinc have held two design workshops at the Aquarium to date: a kickoff in April and, last week, a presentation of their initial concepts to the master planning committee and executive team. More workshops will be held through November of this year, leading to the master planning submission to the Seattle City Council in December of 2014.

In other important news, the Seattle City Council voted in late April to place the “Seattle Parks for All” measure on the August 5 ballot. The measure would create a new Seattle Parks District, continue major maintenance support for the Aquarium, and create sustainable funding for and equitable access to Seattle’s parks overall. We hope Aquarium supporters who are registered voters in the City of Seattle will support the measure in August!