The aquarium in Seattle, Washington, wasn't my first aquarium, but it should have been. As far as first aquariums go, the one in Orlando's Sea World isn't even in the top ten, but that one was my first, and it wasn't that memorable. This was back when aquariums were just glorified fish tanks and were as exciting as browsing the fish department at Petsmart.
But all that has changed over the last few decades. Aquariums have moved on from just being tanks full of fish to be a "resource for hands-on marine experiences and conservation education." It's like when zoos went from being rows of cages to living environments.
The waterfront of Seattle, Washington, is changing rapidly. When I first visited the aquarium in 2008, there wasn't much else there. Now, especially with the new Seattle Wheel and the demolition of the old Alaskan Way Viaduct, the waterfront has really come alive. You could easily spend a day, or even better, a night, wandering up and down the mile of waterfront from the Ferry Terminal up to Olympic Sculpture Park. And there's no better way to cool off or seek shelter during the frequent rain than in the Seattle Aquarium.
The Seattle, Washington Aquarium has some fantastic fish, but it is the other animals that I am attracted to. As cute as Nemo is, once you've seen one clownfish, you've seen them all. A Birds and Shores exhibit has wildlife that exists next to the water, including some Tufted Puffins. Try saying that three times real fast.
There are mammal exhibits with seals and both river and sea otters. The seals are fun, but the otters are a riot. It seems like all they do is play. But, I know what you are thinking. What about the Cephalopods? I don't know what that means either, but of course, I am talking about the squid and octopus exhibits. They can be a bit boring sometimes, but they are fascinating to watch when they get active at feeding time.
As a photographer, I am drawn to that part of the ocean I will never visit, the bottom. The beautiful and colorful coral and sea urchins, along with the crabs and seahorses that swim around and through them, can captivate me for hours.
But to me, the best part of the Seattle, Washington aquarium is the Dome. First, you walk through an underwater tunnel, the likes of which can be found in many aquariums these days. Then you enter a circular room with a 360' view underneath a 400,000-gallon saltwater habitat. This giant pool contains hundreds of fish that can be found right outside in Puget Sound. Schools of salmon, sturgeon, lingcod, and of course, sharks. What aquarium would be complete without sharks, including the venomous Dogfish?
As the pandemic is active in Seattle, Washington, the Seattle Aquarium takes many safety precautions, including limiting the time and number of attendees. Masks are still required for everyone over the age of 5, and they will give you one if you don't have one. If you can't wear a mask, sorry - you can't come in just yet. Plan your trip accordingly because you can only come in during the time printed on your ticket. If you want to walk up and buy a ticket, be prepared for a wait. Only when there are few enough advanced tickets sold will you be allowed in.
Seattle, Washington, is a beautiful city with plenty to see and do. I suggest you break it up into areas as each part of the city is different and geographically distant. But plan at least one day and evening for the waterfront. And a big part of that experience has to be the Seattle, Washington Aquarium.