Not only is the Seattle Aquarium the ninth largest of its kind in the United States—with more than 22 million visitors since its opening in 1977—it is also an integral center for marine conservation and education. The exhibits display stunning creatures of land and sea, and staff biologists study the aquatic tenants to conduct critical research on giant Pacific octopuses, sixgill sharks, sea otters, and other indigenous animals.
Though the Seattle Aquarium is an advanced center for research, it isn’t all serious business and otters wearing lab coats—it also hosts numerous interactive exhibits and displays to please young and old alike. The Marine Mammals exhibit puts visitors up close with sea otters, playful river otters, harbor seals, and fur seals. The Pacific Coral Reef exhibit displays visually stunning and vibrant tropical fish, and the 120,000-gallon Windows on Washington Waters exhibit provides a floor-to-ceiling view of hundreds of Puget Sound fish, including salmon, lingcod, rockfish, and wolf eels.
The Seattle Aquarium also stays actively involved with the community. The aquarium’s biologists partner with local divers to take an annual octopus census, and each year the center trains more than 150 volunteers to teach visitors about the ecosystems of local beaches.