E-Newsletter Articles

October 2012

Youth Ocean Advocates Program
Set to Launch

High school volunteers

Our high school volunteer program is poised to take a major step, advancing into a comprehensive endeavor that will expand on successful aspects of the existing program and add exciting new elements as well.

Since 1994, over 1,300 youth have served as high school volunteers at the Seattle Aquarium. Our interpretive program, which was originally offered only during the summer, now runs year-round and the number of youth involved continues to expand. At first, the summer program attracted an average of 54 participants each year. More recently, the number doubled to an average of 108.

The school-year program has seen similar success. It started with an average of 72 students and grew to an average of 116. In the summer of 2012 alone, 123 high school volunteers provided 13,177 hours of service and raised over $10,000 via the Aquarium’s donation-based face-painting booth.

The program grew in 2010 with the launch of our youth campaign, Puget Sound: We Love You, which aims to increase awareness and conservation of the Sound in teens as well as their parents via social media and community outreach events such as beach cleanups.

Now it’s time to expand again. The proposed Youth Ocean Advocates program will include four major channels: youth interpreters, the conservation campaign, field conservation and a conservation fund through which youth volunteers, in partnership with Aquarium staff, will develop a grant program to disseminate donations collected at the face-painting booth. STEM-based training will be an integral element of each channel.

“We want to create conservationists,” says Youth Engagement Coordinator Dave Glenn, “Youth who are excited to be involved—at the Aquarium and in the community—and who will develop into lifelong advocates for Puget Sound.”

“Community support will allow us to become the best teen volunteer program in the country,” says Dave. “That’s the goal.” Read the next story to learn more about one teen’s experience.

Why I: Lauren Nguyen

Lauren Nguyen

This month, Lauren Nguyen tells us why she is a teen volunteer at the Aquarium. “There is never a day when I don’t look forward to my shift at the Aquarium.

Being a volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium has been such a rewarding experience for me. I have gained a substantial amount of knowledge about marine life and conservation that has uncovered my passion for marine biology! Simply having the chance to learn about the way each animal at the Aquarium functions makes volunteering worthwhile in itself. Because there is so much to learn about each facet of marine biology, I can always look forward to learning something new and exciting while volunteering.

On top of my acquired knowledge, being an Aquarium volunteer has allowed me to further develop my social skills and comfort with talking to new people. I’ve been able to break out of my shell and branch out to volunteers and visitors with ease—something that’s not only useful while volunteering, but will also be useful in my everyday life.

But honestly, what I volunteer for are the amazing experiences I have. From seeing our new sea otter the morning she was born to feeding giant Pacific octopuses, I can’t imagine any reason I would ever want to leave. :)”

Marine Mammal Monitoring Begins—Volunteers Needed

Barney - harbor seal

With the renovation of our harbor seal exhibit officially underway, the timing is just right for a complementary project devoted to marine mammals in the wild. We’re happy to announce the launch of our Marine Mammal Monitoring project, and you’re invited to volunteer!

Developed to protect local marine mammals during construction of the exhibit—and to contribute to an understanding of the marine mammals found in Elliott Bay—the project will deploy volunteer “Marine Mammal Monitors” to five sites around Elliott Bay and on Bainbridge Island from mid-October through early December.

Using equipment provided by the Aquarium, volunteers will scan the Sound for the presence of marine mammals, record their findings and immediately report any sightings of species protected by the Endangered Species Act to the Aquarium.

We estimate that we’ll need approximately 100 volunteers to ensure the success of the project. Shifts are available Monday–Friday, 8am–noon and noon–4pm at the following sites: the Seattle Aquarium, Alki Beach Park and Discovery Park in Seattle; and Rockaway Beach Park and the intersection of Toe Jam Hill Road NE and NE South Beach Drive on Bainbridge Island. Volunteers are asked to commit to a minimum of one regular shift per week for the duration of the project.

Interested in volunteering? Click here for more information. If you’re unable to volunteer but know of organizations or individuals who may be, please share this information with them! We’ll be sure to update you on the results of this project in a future newsletter.

Celebrate Halloween at the Aquarium

Halloween 2012 at the Seattle Aquarium

The Aquarium is your headquarters for spooky fun this season, with four days of ghostly activities, trick-or-treating along the waterfront on Halloween itself, and a special event for premier-level donors on October 25.

Donors at the Otter Club level and above will soon receive an invitation to our annual Halloween party, where they’ll enjoy a creepy (in a good way!) buffet dinner, ghoulish treats, underwater pumpkin carving and other frighteningly fun activities.

The general public is invited to join us October 27–31 for underwater pumpkin carving demonstrations and a variety of Halloween-themed activities. On October 31 from 11am to 5pm, waterfront businesses from the ferry terminal to Olympic Sculpture Park will be offering candy to trick-or-treaters. Costumes are encouraged for all these fun events—hope to see you there! For more details, click here.

Member Movie Night Featuring
Monsters, Inc.

Member Movie Night

Enjoy a night out at the movies, Aquarium-style. On Thursday, October 11th, you can bring your kids to see Monsters, Inc. at the Aquarium. Or, you can make a whole night of it by being part of the Members-Only Puget Sound Sleepover!

For Members-Only Movie Night, you have the opportunity to see, touch and explore the animals in our tide pools and get your face painted. You’ll also have time to load up on popcorn, candy and beverages before the lights go down. The movie night runs from 7:00 to 9:30pm. There is a non-refundable $3.00 processing fee for each member (four and older) registering for this event.

During Members-Only Puget Sound Sleepover, you will explore the Aquarium after hours while participating in exciting educational activities. Enjoy a private viewing of our marine mammals eating their last meal of the day. Gather ocean plankton and spend some time up close and personal with our tide pool animals. You’ll discover what happens behind the scenes and prepare ice toys for our playful sea otters. Participate in games, make arts and crafts, spend free time in the exhibits without the daytime crowds or enjoy the featured film, Monsters, Inc. As the evening winds down, you’ll head off to your bedroom…the Underwater Dome. Wake up bright and early to feed enrichment toys to our mammals. The sleepover starts at 7:00pm on October 11th and goes until 7:30am on October 12th. Registration for the sleepover is $35.00 per participant (movie fee included).

Space is limited. Click here to RSVP. Members-Only movie night is sponsored by T. Rowe Price College Savings Plan, Offered by the Education Trust of Alaska.

“Finding Nemo” Re-released—Come See the Real Thing at the Aquarium!


With the recent re-release of “Finding Nemo” in 3D, now is the perfect time for a visit to the Aquarium, where you can watch the real-life versions of several of the movie’s most memorable characters in action. Bring your family to see Nemo and Marlin (clownfish), Dory (Pacific blue regal tang), Gill (Moorish idol) and all the other colorful characters that can be found in our Pacific Coral Reef exhibit.

A Message from our President & CEO

Bob Davidson

The People Are Still for Puget Sound

News of the demise of People for Puget Sound is like the passing of an admired and trusted friend.

Indeed, for 21 years Kathy Fletcher inspired thousands of donors, staff and volunteers to pay attention to the Sound, to restore beaches, to push the legislature, governor, and Federal and local officials. We all benefited from her tenacious advocacy for a healthy Puget Sound, and hoped the energy could continue after her retirement last year. Many good people sought to continue the work, but the relentless force of a down economy and massive pressure on donors and governments alike were, in the end, decisive.

The work remains: with state agencies like Puget Sound Partnership, with nonprofits and science institutions, with our leaders, and with all of us.

One of the clear and important accomplishments of the Puget Sound Partnership is that science has finally been effectively deployed to give us more clarity about the Sound’s actual condition, and to establish a benchmark of metrics through which we can focus on progress, or lack of it. Knowledge of the problems faced by the Sound has not sunk in with the voters or public at large. But generations of participants in the health-of-Puget-Sound efforts long ago concluded that this would be a lengthy, complicated path.

In January, we will have a new governor carefully choosing his priorities. The leaders of the major marine conservation organizations met separately with Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna earlier this year in Puget Sound Hall at Seattle Aquarium to share our concerns and to learn where Puget Sound fits in the priorities of each. Each candidate voiced the visceral ownership of the Sound felt by those who grew up swimming, sailing and enjoying Puget Sound, and each committed to pursue state policies that will protect the Sound. They each agreed that leadership on this issue is important to them personally and to their families.

But for years we have lived through the ebb and flow of idealistic enthusiasm later dulled by the scale, complexity and cost of effective actions.

In recent years former PSP chair Bill Ruckelshaus pointed out that the problem has changed. The big industrial polluters of the last century have been edged out by the modern threat: millions of us moving in to the Puget Sound basin with oil from our cars and fertilizer from our lawns washing toxics into the Sound with each heavy rain. New solutions are in order.

The next governor and legislature must take the measure of the threats to the Sound, resource constraints and the distraction of voters, and place these side-by-side with the new scientific measurements of the health of the Sound. Come January, we need a realistic commitment to picking up the fitful progress made under Governor Gregoire. We should all extend a hand to keep the Puget Sound Partnership moving with the new energy, talents and political moxie of our next governor.

We know the intent will be there. But as Kathy Fletcher discovered long ago, it is a matter of one step at a time.