I love aquariums. Always have, always will.
I remember reading all the sea creature Eyewitness books (remember those?!) at my elementary school’s library, and in more recent years I’m a weirdo who watches Planet Earth and other ocean documentaries because, well, the deep and powerful waters of the ocean/lakes/rivers and the things that live in it just blow my mind. Simple as that. The quiet world of underwater always enchants me.
But even better than books (and The Blue Planet) is walking through an entire building full of tanks and replica tide pools to see, and even touch, some of the most fascinating aqueous creatures up close.
The aquarium is on the waterfront in the city, down the hill below Pike Place Market. Right on the pier itself, it extends out over the dark water of Puget Sound, so you can look over the edge of the boardwalk and see giant sea stars clinging to the rocks in the harbor.
Then, of course, you go inside and see more stars in the cement tidal pools full of anemones. But these, you can touch.
Feeling the anemones is like touching molded jello, so soft and slick you can hardly feel them. The stars are fuzzy rubber to the touch and they slowly wriggle their stiff arms when lifted from the water.
Seattle’s Aquarium brilliantly showcases the underwater world of the Pacific Northwest: the dark water and richly colored life, from the purple sea stars to the emerald and yellow kelp, the brackish water where the fresh river water and ocean meet, the crab pots and small clear jellyfish, and seals bobbing among raindrop ripples. I did my scuba certification dive in these chilly waters of the Sound, and I hope to dive here again someday.
Here you can see flat halibut with their one migrating eye, sharks prowling around wide eyed rockfish, and sturgeon.
I couldn’t stop staring at the thick bodied salmon. These fish are pure muscle. Their dusty silver scales flickered with strong graceful movements in the current as they darted in quick bursts between gold ribbons of kelp that flowed like bands of silk towards the surface.
The aquarium also touts two Giant Pacific Octopuses (that’s right, Octopuses, Octopi is not correct. The root of the word is not one that’s pluralized by adding an “i” because it’s Greek, not Latin. Ha! And I’m sorry, I’ll try not to be such a know-it-all from now on) that float around and slide through their plexiglas tank with suckered arms unfurling and searching among the crevices. You can tell by watching how smart they are. It’s a little unnerving the way they move and see, but really fascinating to watch all the same.
After the dome, the aquarium opens to covered outdoor exhibits. This is where you can find the most adorable snugly otters. They’re curled around each other like a cozy fur yin yang. My heart just exploded.
So there you have it, folks, a taste of my favorite parts of the Seattle Aquarium. The exhibits often change, though, and every visitor finds something specific that captures their attention in the quiet but very alive world on display at the pier.