Whether it’s Lake Washington or the Puget Sound, Seattle is surrounded by water. To most of us, it’s a mystery what lies beneath the waters around us. We usually only see the surface from the shore. Thankfully, the Seattle Aquarium is here to introduce us to the all the incredible sea life from our region and well beyond.
The Seattle Aquarium has entertained locals and tourists on the Seattle waterfront (located at 1483 Alaska Way) since 1977. It continues to grow, luring in nearly one million visitors per year. With numerous fascinating exhibits, the aquarium is perfect for children, adults, and seniors alike. No matter how old you are, trust me when I say that your eyes will light up with wonder when you experience the aquarium.
When you first enter the Seattle Aquarium, you see the large ‘Window on Washington Waters’ exhibit. It’s a massive 120,000 gallon tank loaded with more than 800 fish and invertebrates that are native to Pacific Northwest waters. The viewing window takes up an entire 20 x 40-foot wall, with plenty of seating for the aquarium’s educational programs. Divers jump into the exhibit everyday at 10am, 11am, and 12:15pm. Wearing special masks, the divers actually field questions from the audience. It’s really cool!
Not only can you look at the sea life inside the Seattle Aquarium, you can actually get your hands on it as well. There are two different touch pools loaded with starfish, sea urchins, sea anemones, and much more. The touch pools mimic what you would find in tide pools around the Puget Sound. Since I’m a kid trapped in a grownup’s body, this is easily one of my favorite parts of the Seattle Aquarium.
Another popular exhibit at the Seattle Aquarium showcases the giant Pacific octopus. No matter what time of day you’re there, hoards of people surround these tanks to see one of the “most elusive and fascinating creatures in the Puget Sound.” In the wild, these creatures usually have an arm span of 14 feet! If you’re at the aquarium from 12pm-4pm, you can watch as they attempt to feed the two resident octopuses.
After you’ve perused through the ‘Pacific Coral Reef’ and ‘Ocean Oddities’ (where you’ll find longhorn cowfish, sea horses, and much more) exhibits, stroll outside at the Seattle Aquarium to see the ‘Shore and Sea Birds’ exhibit. You will see tufted puffins (very entertaining little guys), common murres, and other “often-reclusive” birds as they swim and romp around their open-air exhibit.
The marine mammals are also located outside at the Seattle Aquarium. You can get up-close and personal with harbor seals, sea otters and a northern fur seal. These exhibits are some of the most popular, and for good reason. Unlike many of the other creatures you find at the aquarium, these animals have character. They play, eat, lounge, interact and much more. To learn even more about the marine mammals, be sure to catch one of the daily talks and feedings at 11:30am or 2pm. It’s well worth your while.
On top of the above ground viewing area (which also includes fun-loving river otters), you can also watch the marine mammals underwater in the lower level of the Seattle Aquarium. Also underground, you can literally surround yourself with sea life in the ‘Underwater Dome’ exhibit. It’s a 360-degree, 400,000-gallon tank full of sea life you’d find in the Puget Sound. Watch as sharks, salmon, lingcod, sturgeon and more swim all around you.
The Seattle Aquarium is open daily from 9:30am-5pm (last entry is at 5pm; exhibits close at 6pm). Admission is $21.95 for adults (13-years and older), $14.95 for children (4-12), and free for kids 3-and-under. If you’re visiting from out-of-town, we highly recommend the Seattle CityPASS. With the pass, you get access to six attractions, including the Seattle Aquarium, an Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, the Space Needle and more, at a savings of 47% (or more).
Unless you strap on scuba gear and hop into Elliott Bay, the Seattle Aquarium is the only way to see what lies beneath our local waters. While the Puget Sound often looks like a dark abyss, it’s actually home to some really awesome sea life. Instead of staring and wondering, “What’s out there?,” quench your curiosity with a trip to the Seattle Aquarium.
Have you ever visited the Seattle Aquarium? What’s your favorite exhibit? We’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out Seattle Bloggers for more fun attractions around the Emerald City!