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Tidal Touch Zone

Did you know?

When a sea urchin “hugs” your finger if you gently touch its spines, it’s actually checking you out: Are you food or predator?

If you’re neither, the animal will just gradually release you.

Touch low tide

Explore a new world
with one gentle finger.
The softness of a sea star, dusky pink. The hard shell of an orange crab. The spikiness of a purple urchin, a smooth sea cucumber. Explore a tidal world of beautiful creatures.
See daily schedule
Lots of space
More animals, more elbow room.
The new Tidal Touch Zone is three times bigger than in our old aquarium. There's plenty of elbow room, an immersive ocean space - and a handy bench to rest. Start exploring.
What's on the wall?
Art meets science
Imagination meets science on the touch zone walls. On one, a shimmering watercolor mural of Puget Sound low tide by Tacoma artist Maria Jost. On the other, a giant map connects us to the ocean.
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Meet our animals

Purple sea urchin
Ochre star
Sea cucumber
Blood star
Painted anemone
Giant plumose anemone
Hermit crab
Sea star arms race
A slow-motion battle
Don't be fooled by the slow speed - sea stars move on thousands of "feet" to catch prey.
The video above was sped up 60 times to show how two of our sea stars battled for a clam!

Protect our Sound

It takes everyone.

THE THREAT: Animals in Puget Sound face many human-caused threats, like pollution and overfishing. Chemicals and plastic wash down from our streets.

TAKE ACTION: The solution is in our hands. Reduce single-use plastic and find sustainable fish on the Seafood Watch app. And learn more on one of our Explore the Shore beach walks!

Aquarium Stories

Ocean Explorer Virtual Reality

The white sand glows as you curve with a hammerhead shark through azure waters. Later, you tilt and dive down deep to rescue a green sea turtle from a plastic net – and are repaid with a magical tour through a coral wonderland. Four captivating ocean adventures await you with Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s … Continued

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Dear Santa: An Animal Wish List

What would you ask Santa for these holidays if you were a walrus? Or a tiger? Of course we can’t know what our animals are thinking, but we can definitely make some fun guesses based on what they enjoy doing or eating! Here’s a Zoo wish-list for Santa from some of our animals. Let’s hope … Continued

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Chiquita explores the aquarium

If the sharks and fish noticed an unusual animal in the South Pacific Aquarium, they didn’t let on. In the steamy aquarium, on a December Tuesday when Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium was closed, two tamanduas were wandering past the Outer Reef, along the lagoon and over to stingray beach. It was Terra and her … Continued

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Who's Nearby?
Like our Tidal Touch Zone? Then keep wandering down to Baja Bay, just around the corner.