E-Newsletter Articles

June 2013

Inspiring that “wow” moment

Seattle Aquarium Beach Naturalist

“I like that ‘wow’ moment,” says Beach Naturalist Jerry Harter. “When people say, ‘Wow, I had no idea this was down here on the beach.’” A veteran Beach Naturalist, Jerry has been volunteering with the program since shortly after its inception in 1999. “I’ve learned so much,” he comments, “And I’m still learning.”

Jerry has seen some big changes in what happens during his volunteer shifts over the years. “It used to be that busloads of kids on field trips would descend on the beach,” he says. “They were having a great time, but it was mayhem. So the Aquarium started providing support and training for teachers—so they could turn what was a free-for-all into an educational experience.” He continues, “It changed kids’ attitudes and appreciation for the beach in a very dramatic way. They started sharing what they knew with each other and with their chaperones…it was a totally different experience.”

Jerry appreciates the diversity of the people he interacts with on the beach. “Some people know a lot, have a long history and tell stories about how the habitat has changed,” he notes. “Others are entirely new to the area…it’s a real treat to get to introduce them to this rich environment. I think it gives them an appreciation for our region as a whole, one that they can take home and share with others.”

Commenting about the value of the Beach Naturalist program, Jerry says, “It has to do with connection. We can learn intellectually about the marine environment—but it’s not until we get close and experience it that appreciation and care arise. That’s what this program does.”

Beach Naturalists will be stationed at 11 Puget Sound beaches on low-tide days throughout the summer. Visit our Beach Naturalist page for locations, dates, times and driving directions. Thank you for your generous support of the Seattle Aquarium and this important program!

Our donors make a Splash!


On Friday, June 7, nearly 600 guests joined us for Splash!2013, enjoying a wonderful evening and helping to raise $741,000 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!

Harbor seals were an apt choice as the event’s featured animal—not only because of our newly opened harbor seal exhibit but also because, as the most prolific marine mammal in Puget Sound, they’re a living representation of the tremendous value and fragility of our local marine environment. Splash! guests enjoyed hearing about 11-year-old Anabel Baker’s love of marine mammals and the experience she had at the Aquarium that inspired her to dream of becoming a marine biologist. If you weren’t able to join us, you can view photos here.

Thank you to everyone who made Splash! a success. We are especially grateful to our honorary chairs, Marco and Molly Abbruzzese, our title sponsor, The Boeing Company, and our presenting conservation sponsor, Wells Fargo Private Bank. Our deep appreciation also goes to the dedicated volunteers and staff 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!

Harbor seal exhibit: now open!

Harbor seal exhibit grand opening

After months of hard work and preparation, our new harbor seal exhibit opened to the public on Saturday, June 1. Nearly 5,500 visitors joined us during the opening weekend to welcome Barney, Q and Siku to their beautiful new home.

The harbor seals appear to be happily settling into their new surroundings. Their pool is now six feet deep, nearly a two-foot increase over the previous depth. Their dry resting area, or haul-out space, has more than doubled in size, to 210 square feet (previously 94). And they now have a wet resting area and underwater rock formations to enjoy, as well.

The exhibit experience has improved for humans, too. With acrylic panels on three sides—two of which dip below the water’s surface—the view is better than ever before. Seating for up to 100 people (or three classrooms of school children) means that our visitors can get comfortable and stay awhile during the daily talks and activities held at the exhibit.

Although the exhibit is complete, its fundraising is not. To date, we’ve raised $5.1 million of the project’s $6.5 million cost. We’re getting closer—but we need help to meet our fundraising goal. If you’ve contributed to the campaign, we thank you for your support. And if you haven’t, there’s never been a better time! View details and to make a donation.

Summer learning at the Aquarium

Marine Summer Camps at the Seattle Aquarium

Looking for ways to enhance learning while your children or grandchildren are enjoying their summer vacations from school? The Aquarium has you covered!

Space is still available in a few of our popular Marine Summer Camps. Offered for kids in kindergarten through eighth grade, each of these fun, educational camps is designed to engage its targeted age group with activities that inspire appreciation for and curiosity about our marine environment. Visit our Camps and Family Programs page for details on the available camps and their respective themes.

Summer is the perfect season to enjoy our beautiful Puget Sound beaches—and we can help you make the most of your visit. Our Beach Naturalists will be stationed at 11 different locations around the Sound on low-tide days in June and July. They can help kids and families enjoy the beach without harming it, explain what sea stars eat, why barnacles stand on their heads, how moon snails lay their eggs, and much, much more. No reservations are necessary for this free program; just look for signs at the beach entrances and Beach Naturalists in red hats. Visit our Beach Naturalist page for locations, dates, times and driving directions.

And, after your day at the beach, bring the kids to the Aquarium to learn even more. Explore our exhibits—don’t miss the new harbor seals in their new home!—and enjoy special talks and activities every day. Click here for details and our daily event schedule.

A message from our President & CEO

Bob Davidson

We at the Aquarium are coming to the close of a very active, exciting spring—and preparing for an even more active and exciting summer.

Our first-ever fundraising breakfast, SeaChange, chaired by Ted Ackerley and Dan M. Guy III, was held on April 23. It was a rousing success, with 241 guests in attendance, raising over $191,000 toward our Harbor Seal Capital Project. Our special guest and keynote speaker, Jim Toomey, cartoonist and creator of the marine conservation-themed comic strip “Sherman’s Lagoon,” did more than double-duty: in addition to speaking (and drawing!) at the event, he also made presentations to donors, staff, volunteers and Aquarium guests.

We also wrapped up our popular speaker series, Sound Conversations, on May 2 with a sold-out appearance by local orca expert Ken Balcomb III.

And, of course, much of the past several months has been dedicated to preparations for the grand opening of our beautiful new harbor seal exhibit. After special previews for the media, donors and staff, the exhibit officially opened to the public on June 1. See the related article in this issue for more information about the exhibit—we hope to see you there this summer!