Seattle Aquarium youth volunteers participate in tree planting event

Youth Ocean Advocates

On January 31, eight high school volunteers from the Seattle Aquarium’s Youth Ocean Advocates program joined teens from Woodland Park Zoo and Pacific Science Center to plant 150 trees, 30 shrubs and 30 understory plants along the Burke Gilman trail.

This was the inaugural event for the Seattle Youth Climate Action Network (CAN), a partnership between the teen programs from the Aquarium, zoo and science center. Youth from the three institutions will be meeting regularly to learn about climate change and how to take climate action.

The trees planted were purchased by Woodland Park Zoo’s membership in Forterra’s Evergreen Carbon Capture program (formally Carbon Capturing Companies). The Aquarium is a founding member of this program—read our previous blog post for details.

Interested in becoming a Seattle Aquarium youth volunteer, or know someone who might be? Orientations for our summer session will take place in March. Visit the Youth Ocean Advocates page on our website for details!

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Longtime Seattle Aquarium volunteer celebrates with a final dive

Janet, Seattle Aquarium volunteer

In December, one of the Seattle Aquarium’s longest-serving volunteer divers, Janet Hensley, took her last dip in the Underwater Dome—and, notes Volunteer Services Manager Katrina Bettis, “It was a unique dive that she will no doubt never forget.” Early morning divers hid a special sign in the waters of the exhibit, out of view of anyone who happened to be strolling through, and waited until the right moment to surprise Janet during her dive shift.

Says Katrina, “Later that evening when Janet was relaying the story to me, she said, “My dive buddy Phil kept telling me I should go to a particular area in the exhibit and I couldn’t figure out, but eventually I went over anyway.” When she did, she discovered the sign that had been left for her. Another volunteer who was on the “dry side” in the Dome said Janet got really quiet and then could be heard over the speakers, crying.

Janet’s final dive took place 20 years and three months to the day she started volunteering with the Seattle Aquarium. Her husband, family and friends gathered to witness it. The Underwater Dome holds a special place in the lives of Janet and her husband—they were married there long before the Aquarium began its private event rental program. Janet doesn’t think of the Seattle Aquarium as a place she volunteers…she thinks of it as extension of her family.

We thank Janet for her many years as a volunteer—during which she doubtless inspired thousands of Aquarium visitors! Interested in becoming a Seattle Aquarium volunteer or volunteer diver? Visit the volunteer page on our website for details and upcoming orientation dates.

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Seattle Aquarium President & CEO’s TEDxRainier talk now available for streaming

Seattle Aquarium President & CEO Robert W. Davidson’s TEDxRainier talk, Why Aquariums Matter, was recently published to TEDxRainer’s YouTube channel.

View the 15-minute talk below, which Davidson delivered on November 22, 2014 at Seattle’s McCaw Hall as part of the annual TEDxRainier event.

The talk features, as Davidson notes, “stories of discovery and of positive action”—touching on issues affecting our one world ocean as well as those closer to home: ocean acidification, the Pacific trash vortex, sea star wasting disease, and the protections established for giant Pacific octopuses in Puget Sound in 2013.

Davidson comments, “Each of us has a personal aquarium window that magnifies and clarifies the world around us. Through this lens, if we’re lucky, we may feel a child’s wonder. The power of water, every drop, touching us to act while there’s still time.”

Watch the video, then visit our website to learn more! You can send comments or your own thoughts on why aquariums matter to

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Hello, Mishka! Seattle Aquarium welcomes a new sea otter

Mishka, 6 month old sea otter coming to Seattle Aquarium

Great news! Mishka, a rescued Alaskan sea otter pup, will soon be making her home at the Seattle Aquarium. She’ll be arriving very early tomorrow morning and it’s expected that Aquarium visitors will be able to view her on Sunday, February 1—making Super Bowl Sunday even more super!

Mishka, which is Russian for “little bear,” is just over six months old and is coming to the Aquarium by way of the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska. After being caught in a fishing net in July 2014, she was rescued, rehabilitated at the Alaska SeaLife Center, and deemed non-releasable by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). Her caretakers in Alaska report that she’s been enjoying a diet of surf clams, crab, mussels, capelin, squid, herring and pollock and now weighs just over 26 pounds. They also say that she seems to have a lot of fun with enrichment activities, particularly piles of ice.

Because Mishka has been living indoors, Aquarium staff will be systematically acclimating her to her new outdoor environment. After she arrives on Saturday, she’ll be placed in the Aquarium’s sea otter holding pool, where the windows will be covered and stanchions will be used to keep visitors out of the area. Based on Mishka’s behavior, the window coverings will be gradually removed in sections. Over the following few days, the stanchions will be moved closer to the windows until she gets used to people being close. In time, as she becomes comfortable in her new surroundings, we will introduce Aniak as her first companion.

Northern sea otters have made their homes at the Aquarium since we opened in 1977. In fact, we have the distinction of being the first zoo or aquarium to have a sea otter pup conceived, born and survive into adulthood. Multiple populations of sea otters are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act—northern sea otters are threatened. As accredited members of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), the Aquarium and Alaska SeaLife Center are working collaboratively to place sea otters that have been deemed non-releasable by the USFWS. Initiatives like this help further our goals related to conservation research and education about this species.

Check out our fact sheet to learn more about northern sea otters—and come meet Mishka on your next visit!

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The Seattle Searocks Hawktopus prepares for NFSea Championship

The Seattle Searocks have been preparing for Sunday’s NFSea Championship game against the Green Bay Prawns, by fine tuning their tackling techniques. And who better to demonstrate, then Seattle Aquarium’s very own, Hawktopus. He can squeeze through any hole in a team’s defensive line, just as long as his helmet fits through!

To properly tackle, Hawktopus follows these steps:

1) Take the head out of the equation by targeting the legs.

2) Use leverage and target the body of the ball carrier to tackle with their shoulders.

3) Wrap up and roll through the tackle.

4) Tackle with efficiency and power.

Interested in learning more about octopuses? Check out the Seattle Aquarium’s octopus fact sheet! #GoHawks

*Based on Pete Carroll’s proper techniques for tackling. No octopuses were harmed in the creation of this promotion.

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