E-Newsletter Articles

September 2012

Kids Talk: field trip favorites

Kid in touch pool

About 40,000 children come to the Aquarium on field trips each year to learn about science outside the classroom. Here’s what some of them had to say about their visit:

“Man, you guys must be super, duper smart to know what all those animals are called.” - Anna

“It is sad to think that some people are killing wildlife without even knowing it!” – Natalie

“I didn’t know that digging holes and leaving them there could hurt animals.” – Gladys

“I am thankful that you are respectful to animals. I think you are respectful because you put a red flag where there is a fragile animal. That is really respectful because the animal is very small and can’t protect himself from humans.” – Isak

“There was a creature under a rock. It was getting dry. You just didn’t leave the rock there; you put it back so the animals would live.” – Julian

“Thank s for telling us beach rules. Now I won’t have to worry am I doing this right or not.” – Margaret

Over 1.6 million children have participated in Aquarium programs since we opened our doors 35 years ago. Each of these kids has the chance to touch the animals they learn about in class and witness the impact of their actions. This direct interaction enhances scientific education and encourages children to be more conscientious stewards of our environment.

Marine conservation in action: the International Coastal Cleanup

Alki beach cleanup

On September 15, you’re invited to join volunteers from around the world in caring for our marine environment as part of Ocean Conservancy’s 27th annual International Coastal Cleanup. Last year alone, over 598,000 volunteers collected 9,184,428 pounds of trash from 20,776 miles of shoreline along our world’s oceans, lakes, streams and rivers.

Volunteers do more than pick up trash: by recording every item they find, they help create a snapshot of exactly what is polluting our world’s waterways. This information can help inform efforts to develop lasting solutions to the problem of ocean trash, which is a serious threat to marine wildlife, human health and coastal economies. Last year’s top five items? Cigarettes (with over 2,000,000 picked up worldwide), caps/lids, plastic beverage bottles, plastic bags and food wrappers/containers.

As part of this year’s International Coastal Cleanup, the Seattle Aquarium will host a cleanup along Alki Beach in partnership with Ocean Conservancy and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. Seattle’s JACK FM will promote the event and youth volunteers from our Puget Sound: We Love You campaign will coordinate our efforts throughout the day.

Join the world’s largest marine life-related volunteer effort and help achieve Ocean Conservancy’s vision of “trash-free seas!” For more details or to take part in the cleanup on Alki beach, register online.

Pop quiz: sea stars

sea stars

With summer drawing to a close, now is the perfect time to visit a local beach at low tide, where odds are good you’ll see sea stars. Compared to other temperate seas, the waters along the west coast is without equal in the world when it comes to the number of sea stars found here.

While most people know that sea stars can regenerate arms, there’s much more to these fascinating creatures. Ready to test your knowledge? Take our quiz—some of the answers may surprise you!

Q: How many eyes does a sea star have?
A: One for each arm. Although sea stars lack developed eyes, they do have a light-sensing “eye spot” at the end of each of their arms. Some species are drawn toward light; others shun it.

Q: True or false: sea stars have gills.
A: True (sort of!). Sea stars do absorb oxygen, and excrete chemical waste, but they do so through tiny structures all over their skin (dermal gills), rather than with external structures like fish gills. They also absorb oxygen through their tube feet.

Q: True or false: some sea stars can deliberately jettison their limbs.
True. Sunflower stars and velcro stars can cast off arms that have been trapped by a predator. Most other stars aren’t capable of this feat but they can regenerate arms lost to injury as long as some part of the central disk remains intact.

Q: How many hearts does a sea star have?
A: None. Sea stars don’t have hearts or blood. But they do have a water vascular system that supplies the necessary water pressure to power their tube feet.

Eager to know more? Visit the Life on the Edge exhibit and ask one of our interpreters to share their sea star knowledge with you!

Experience the Cedar River Salmon Journey


Have you ever seen spawning salmon? Join Seattle Aquarium volunteers at The Cedar River Salmon Journey: a free, family-friendly program where volunteers tell the story of the life cycle of salmon and the impact our actions have on their journey.

Since 1998, the program has drawn 65,000 visitors from across the region to see and learn about spawning salmon and the Cedar River Watershed. The riverside presentations, offered in October, are hosted by volunteer naturalists who share their love for and knowledge about this important habitat while describing everyday actions we can all take to help salmon thrive. Before working with the public, each volunteer receives approximately 20 hours of training from fish, interpretative and watershed experts.

The Cedar River Salmon Journey is a partnership between the Seattle Aquarium, Friends of the Cedar River Watershed and Seattle Public Utilities. In addition to the fall program along the Cedar River, another is offered at the Hiram Chittenden Locks in July, when salmon are passing through the locks on their way to their spawning grounds.

Volunteer naturalists will be available from 11am to 4pm every weekend in October. Visit our website for more information about the Cedar River Salmon Journey.

A Message from our President & CEO

Bob Davidson

Nearshore marine ecosystems are heavily impacted by human activity. We can all do our part to care for the plants and animals that call Puget Sound home by making sustainable lifestyle choices every day.

Simple choices, when made by the thousands, have a profound effect. By carrying reusable shopping bags, composting at home or switching to a reusable coffee cup, you will join a growing number of people making a difference.

Want to make an even bigger impact? September 15th is International Coastal Cleanup day. People around the world will meet at their local beaches to pick up trash and recyclables. This year the Aquarium will be working with Ocean Conservancy and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance to remove trash from Alki beach and Bank of America at Myrtle Edwards. I hope you will consider volunteering for this important community event. Our actions today will make a healthier ocean for future generations.