E-Newsletter Articles

August 2013

Solar electricity comes to the Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium solar array

Here comes the sun! The Seattle Aquarium recently announced a partnership with Seattle City Light to install a 49-kilowatt-hour photovoltaic array on the roof of Pier 59 this summer. (What does “photovoltaic” mean? That the array will create electricity from the sun’s energy—not hot water, as our other solar project with City Light and Puget Sound Energy does.)

“It’s part of the vision of the Aquarium to invest in alternative energy, and this project fits perfectly with that,” says Conservation Manager Mark Plunkett. Using clean, green energy helps to support healthy marine ecosystems by reducing ocean acidification. “We’re among a dozen or so zoos and aquariums that are adopting solar power,” notes Mark. The 246-panel solar array at the Seattle Aquarium will be the largest installation on any West Coast aquarium.

The array will generate electricity that goes directly to the Aquarium, and the system will also host Seattle City Light’s second Community Solar project, where anyone with a Seattle City Light account can pay for one or more solar units and receive annual bill credits for the electricity generated by the project.

Work will soon be underway and the array is planned to be operational by the end of the year. We’re excited to work with Seattle City Light on education opportunities this fall as we highlight sustainable operations and address climate change and ocean acidification. Stay tuned for further updates on the array when it’s complete! In the meantime, to learn more about Seattle City Light’s Community Solar project, visit Seattle.Gov/communitysolar or call SCL Community Solar Program Manager Suzanne DuRard at (206) 684-3874.

Harbor seal exhibit inspires conservation action

Barney - harbor seal at the Seattle Aquarium

One of the most frequently commented upon aspects of our new harbor seal exhibit isn’t the exhibit itself—it’s the trash floating beyond the exhibit in Elliott Bay. And many of our visitors want to do something about it.

Describing one such experience, Marine Science Interpreter Cari Garand writes, “I had a great interaction with a group of girls, roughly 12 years old, who were looking over the railing and into the water, noticing how much trash was in it. I asked them to count how many pieces they saw floating and what kinds of trash they saw. Then I asked if harbor seals in the wild would know the difference between a piece of trash and a piece of food. The girls told me that harbor seals would probably eat the trash by mistake. Together, we committed to pick up at least one piece of trash that day that wasn’t ours and put it in the right spot.”

Other marine science interpreters at the harbor seal exhibit are reporting similar interactions, and promises to take conservation action, nearly every day. Says Visitor Engagement Manager Andrea DosSantos, “When the harbor seal exhibit opened, we knew everyone was going to love seeing the animals underwater; we didn’t expect that we’d have so many conversations about garbage in the Sound. But when people started bringing it up, we took the opportunity to help them make the connection between the harbor seals in the exhibit and harbor seals in the wild.”

The harbor seal exhibit has already proven to be hugely popular with our visitors: over 120,000 people have visited it since it opened on June 1. And our marine science interpreters are also finding that visitors are spending more time in the exhibit than in any other area of the Aquarium, which creates more opportunities for them to help make the connection between harbor seals and preserving Puget Sound.

Fundraising for this vibrant new exhibit continues! For details and to make a donation, visit SeattleAquarium.org/seals.

Why I: volunteer and donor Dennus Baum

Dennus Baum

“What keeps me coming back as a volunteer is inspiring just one person—okay, many—to become a scuba diver, a marine biologist or a Seattle Aquarium volunteer.” So says longtime volunteer diver and Seattle Aquarium donor Dennus Baum, who began volunteering with us in 2004 and expanded his involvement by donating prints of his underwater photography to Splash! and even serving as a table captain at this year’s event.

Dennus was attracted to the volunteer program at the Seattle Aquarium because, as he says, “I wanted to learn more about marine biology and behavior so I would have a better knowledge and understanding of our marine environment.” He first volunteered at Splash! in 2007 and recalls, “I had been to several auctions but there was something different about Splash!. For me, it was the energy and excitement, the overwhelming support for the Aquarium.” A few years later, he started donating his photography—including prints of photos he’d taken during his volunteer diving shifts at the Aquarium. In 2013, he took the step of becoming a table captain. “It’s important to me to help raise funds to support the Aquarium in its mission,” he comments.

“Education is the most important aspect of the Aquarium’s mission for me,” Dennus continues. “It’s the cornerstone that will lead the way in worldwide conservation and research of our oceans and marine environment.” He adds, “The Aquarium introduces people to what’s in our oceans, with exhibits that give a close-up experience of our marine environment. And when we understand something, we want to protect it.”

Fun, food and more at the Otter Open Golf Classic!

Otter Open Golf Classic 2013

Callisons, Inc. will once again serve as the Title Sponsor for this year’s Otter Open Golf Classic, scheduled for Monday, September 23 at Broadmoor Golf Club. This popular event will feature fun hole experiences, delicious food and drinks, a silent and mini live auction, goody bags, prizes, and much more. Funds raised during the event, co-chaired by J. Brian Hill, Steve Moore and Scott Trethewey, will benefit the Aquarium’s many programs and its mission of Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment.

And, while the Title Sponsor spot has been taken, there are still many opportunities to get involved with our annual golf tournament and fundraising event. To learn about sponsorship opportunities, reserve a foursome, or for more details about the event, please contact Erin Ashley at e.ashley@seattleaquarium or (206) 838-3914. You can also visit our Otter Open page for more information.

A message from our President & CEO

Bob Davidson

The future waterfront will begin in earnest with seawall construction this fall! The Aquarium will be fully open and accessible throughout the construction and we are working with the seawall team and our waterfront neighbors to assure lively activity. While this work proceeds, we are developing design plans for expansion of the Aquarium to match the exciting new waterfront.

This winter Alaskan Way traffic will be shifted east under the existing viaduct, so that the seawall can be replaced directly in front of the Aquarium. This should be completed by next summer, when the entire waterfront will be construction-free.

When construction begins to the south of the Aquarium in Fall 2014 many of the businesses on piers 54, 55, 56 and 57 will temporarily close, which allows the City to shorten construction by nine months. The Aquarium, the Great Wheel and Argosy Cruises will remain open and accessible throughout the seawall work. We are currently working on strategies to keep visitors coming through our doors through every phase of the seawall replacement. We’re also working with the City and the other businesses that are remaining open to make it as easy as possible to access the waterfront.

You can help by continuing to enjoy our exhibits and programs, letting your friends and family know that we’re open as usual, and continuing to provide the support we appreciate so deeply. Although the coming two years will have their challenges, we are well prepared to face them—and thrilled about the completion of this vital project, which will benefit our institution as well as the entire Puget Sound region.