Guest post from Cari Garand, marine science interpreter and diver at the Seattle Aquarium
Our Window on Washington Waters (WOWW) exhibit is celebrating a big milestone. Ten years ago on June 21, 2007, WOWW became the exhibit that welcomes visitors from around the world to the Seattle Aquarium. This exhibit showcases what life is like along the outer coast of Washington state—specifically, a dive site called Mushroom Rock, found in Neah Bay.
WOWW offers the perfect way to get to know our underwater neighbors, many of which you could find hanging out under the Aquarium itself. This 120,000 gallon exhibit houses hundreds of local species from coho salmon to the much-adored wolf eel.
As cold Puget Sound water rushes through at 1,600 gallons per minute, it brings with it plankton that have settled down and started to grow. The colonization of this exhibit has been amazing to watch over the years. Encrusting coralline algae, baby anemones, even nudibranchs grace the cracks and crevices of the rocks, creating a dynamic and thriving ecosystem. These animals are just a few examples of our “other group of volunteers” that call the Aquarium their home.
The local marine life in the exhibit is definitely a draw—and so is one specific type of mammal that can be found floating in its waters at 10am, 11:30am, 12:15pm and 3pm on the weekends: Aquarium divers! Dive staff and volunteers have been giving high fives through the 12.5-inch-thick acrylic since the beginning. Diving in our cold Puget Sound water (which varies from around 45 to 55 degrees F) does require a lot of gear but that has never stopped our divers from adding a little flair to their outfits. WOWW has seen the likes of hula divers, Seahawk fans, and even Santa!
WOWW provides a unique opportunity to connect people to the water beneath us in Puget Sound and Washington’s outer coast—all part of our one big ocean. So come and explore to help us celebrate the Window on Washington Waters exhibit’s tenth birthday!