Drowning in Seattle (Aquarium)
One hundred twenty thousand gallons. It’s hard to wrap one’s head around such a quantity of water, and it’s even harder to think how all that could be stored in a single aquarium. That’s the effect that the “Window on Washington Waters” has to anyone knowing the facts for the first time. The giant feature will b e the first to greet all Seattle Aquarium guests. The exhibit is fronted by a giant glass wall, twenty by forty feet. Behind this is a very rich marine life, made to duplicate the biodiversity of Washington State’s Neah Bay. One can just sit, relax, and marvel at the rich sea life the exhibit has to offer.
But of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg. I particularly liked the exhibit called “Life of a Drifter”, showcasing a Giant Pacific Octopus. This one allows you to observe how the octopus worms its way through a transparent tube, as it goes from one part of the exhibit to another. There are two octopus feeding attempts — one at noon and another at 4 PM. You will also get to see jellyfish, rockfish, sea stars, and tiny plankton.
If cute and furry is more your style, you will also love the otter exhibit as much as I did. When I went there, they had a newcomer named Mishka. She was an otter who was rescued after getting tangled in a fishing net. That was last summer — now she is happily swimming in the Seattle Aquarium. We were told she was first kept at the Alaska SeaLife Center, where she was kept mostly indoors. Now she had to be acclimatized to the outdoors. There were 4 adorable otters there when we visited.
There was also a feeding experience in the Seattle Aquarium’s large underwater dome. The fish there were huge — and some are just weird. There was one fish called a “halibut” — and it’s not easy to understand. It was swimming flat, like a manta. However, it’s like it’s leaning sidewards. And the eyes are crazy! It’s pretty weird, but enjoyable.
“Life on the Edge” was another noteworthy feature. In this one you can actually wet your hands and touch many different creatures. Among them are sea stars, anemones, hermit crabs, and sea urchins. Apparently it is safe to touch urchins with your bare hands (so long as you do not grasp it tightly). What’s cool is that there are naturalists on hand to help you know what kind of sea creature you are interacting with at the moment. The creatures in the exhibit are derived from the outer coast of Washington state and the inland sea at Puget Sound. Even those who do not want to get up close and personal can still enjoy the sights and sounds.
The Seattle Aquarium is an enriching experience even for casual visitors like me. The interactive exhibits, the photographs, and the bits of trivia transport you to a rich, fascinating, and wet world you only read about in stories. It’s a must-see for those within the area, especially for those looking for something different.