Skip to main content

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.

NOTE: Due to current Covid-19 restrictions, this area is temporarily closed.

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.
Read the story

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

Aquariums reopening!

It’s time for sharks! And green sea turtles, eagle rays and jellies too. The Pacific Seas Aquarium and South Pacific Aquarium are reopening July 1 at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium with new protocols to keep guests safe and healthy. Oh, and guests will get to meet Bruno the green sea turtle, too. “Our aquarium … Continued

Read More
Green Sea Turtle joins Pacific Seas Aquarium

Bruno, a 23-year-old Atlantic green sea turtle, is joining the Zoo’s two other turtles, Sunny and Azul, in the Pacific Seas Aquarium just in time to celebrate World Sea Turtle Day. Bruno arrived at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium late last year from Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. He’s been hanging out behind the … Continued

Read More
10 Animal Tips for Self-Care

How are you coping in quarantine? Staying home and isolated during the coronavirus pandemic isn’t easy, and it’s really important to take care of yourself and those you live with. Luckily, our animals and keepers are experts in caring! Here are 10 Animal Tips to help you stay well at home. Click on any image … Continued

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