Pacific spiny lumpsuckers are back!

Pacific spiny lumpsucker

Pacific spiny lumpsuckersAlways fun to watch and looking a bit like swimming golf balls, Pacific spiny lumpsuckers, Eumicrotremus orbis, have returned to our Puget Sound Fish exhibit. These odd fish get their names from an interesting feature: a sucker disk that they use to adhere to kelp, rock and other surfaces—which helps them resist the strong pull of marine currents. Weak swimmers, their camouflage helps them avoid detection by predators.

Pacific spiny lumpsuckers are found in marine waters from northern Washington to the Bering Sea, along the Aleutian Island chain to Siberia and northern Japan. Their maximum recorded length is about five inches, but they usually average between one and two inches.

Come see these interesting fish in person on your next visit!

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Register now for the Seattle Youth Ocean Conservation Summit on December 6!

The Youth Ocean Advocates program at the Seattle Aquarium is proud to announce that we will host the Seattle Youth Ocean Conservation Summit on Saturday, December 6 from 9:30am to 4:30pm. The teen-planned event is an opportunity for local middle and high school students to learn how to develop and implement their own ocean conservation projects. The goal of the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit is for each attendee to come away with the knowledge and resources they need to start their own project to help protect the ocean.

The summit will feature keynote speaker Dr. Fritz Stahr, president and founder of the Ocean Inquiry Project and manager of the Seaglider Fabrication Center at the University of Washington. Fritz has spent his career researching and advocating for the ocean, and will inspire students to do the same.

Throughout the day, students will attend workshops that feature professionals from the field of conservation, each with their own expertise. Our schedule of workshops and presenters include:

  • Public Speaking—Jim Wharton, Seattle Aquarium
  • Volunteer Support—Katrina Bettis, Seattle Aquarium
  • Art & Conservation—Kate Burnley, Seattle Aquarium
  • Social Media—Andrew Bleiman, ZooBorns
  • Journalism & Conservation—Bryn Nelson, Freelance Journalist
  • Fundraising & Grants—Liz Exell, Seattle Aquarium
  • Working with the Government—Steve Mashuda, Earthjustice
  • Marine Debris—Jimmie Pasch, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance
  • Citizen Science – Nicole Ivey, Seattle Aquarium
  • Climate Change—Eli Weiss, Woodland Park Zoo
  • Organizational Leadership—Sean Russell, Stow-It-Don’t-Throw-It Project
  • Education about Conservation—Kate Schmiett, Environmental Science Center
  • Communicating Science—Heather Galindo, UW’s COMPASS

At the end of the summit, each student will put together an action plan for their own ocean conservation project. Following the event, attendees will be able to apply for $200 seed grants from the Youth Ocean Conservation team and the Seattle Aquarium’s Youth Philanthropy Fund. Our hope is that students leave with a plan for action, the tools necessary to implement that plan, and the support they need to make a difference.

The Youth Ocean Conservation Summit will take place at the Seattle Aquarium on December 6. Registration opens at 8:30am, with the summit starting promptly at 9:30am. Due to space limitations, the event is limited to the first 100 students who sign up. Breakfast snacks and lunch will be provided. There is a $15 registration fee. For more information, and to register, visit

Please contact with any questions.


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A fond, sad farewell to northern fur seal Isaac

Last week we were notified by the animal care staff of the New England Aquarium that male northern fur seal Isaac, formerly of the Seattle Aquarium, had passed away. His health had been declining for several weeks. Isaac was 14 years old; the average longevity of male fur seals in the wild is early to mid-teens.

Isaac’s passing marks the end of an era at the Seattle Aquarium. In 1983, our facility became the first in the world to have a northern fur seal conceived and born in human care. A total of five fur seals born here lived to adulthood—Isaac was the final of these, born in 2000. He had been living at the New England Aquarium since 2009, as part of a collaborative breeding loan. While there, he sired two pups: Flaherty, a male born in 2012; and Kitovi, a female born in 2013.

Isaac’s passing brings the total population of northern fur seals living in zoos in aquariums in the United States to 11. He will be missed.

Read our northern fur seal fact sheet for more information about these amazing animals.

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Two kinds of eggs plus new corals and fish at the Seattle Aquarium!

What’s new at the Aquarium? Octopus eggs, salmon eggs, tropical coral that doesn’t need light to survive, and super-colorful fish!

Last week, one of our female giant Pacific octopuses, Delilah, began laying eggs. Although this behavior isn’t normally seen until an octopus has displayed other signs of senescence (the final stage of its life, frequently accompanied by reduced appetite and increased activity), it can occur and has happened previously with other octopuses in our care. Delilah was released under our pier to go forth and multiply. We plan to add another octopus to the exhibit soon—stay tuned for details. In the meantime, you can come see Eddy “stretch his legs” in the exhibit! Want to learn more about giant Pacific octopuses? Read our octopus fact sheet.

The octopus eggs look like grains of rice.

Speaking of eggs, we’ve added 500 chinook salmon eggs to the display trough in our salmon hatchery. Come see them before they hatch and become alevins! What’s an alevin, you ask? Read our salmon fact sheet (and check out the infographic) to find out.

chinook salmon eggs

Chinook salmon eggs.

Last but not least (for now), we’ve got some great new non-photosynthetic corals in our Pacific Coral Reef exhibit. As their name implies, these corals don’t require light to survive, similar to corals found in Puget Sound. Our coral fact sheet has great info about these animals (did you know they’re animals?) in our local waters as well as warmer locations. Come see them—and check out the beautiful deep-water fish, like the decorated dartfish and pink flasher wrasse, as well!

Orange cup coral

Orange cup coral.

Purple dartfish.

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Sea star wasting disease (SSWD) update

You may have seen the recent press coverage of a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that discusses the association of a virus with the recent outbreak of sea star wasting disease. The Seattle Aquarium is proud to have been an active collaborator in this important work and our staff veterinarian, Dr. Lesanna Lahner, is a co-author.

Sunflower sea stars

While coverage of the paper may present the associated densovirus as the definitive cause of SSWD, as with any scientific research, this publication represents only a first step toward understanding disease in sea stars. More studies are needed to determine the specific role, if any, of this particular virus in SSWD, including consideration of the role of environmental conditions and other potential stressors.

In the end, it’s likely that the explanation for this disease event will encompass many factors. The Seattle Aquarium remains an active contributor to this research effort and others like it to understand SSWD and promote the conservation of sea stars. We’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available.

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