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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.
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

Closed but Still Caring

We may be closed due to recent restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), but our keepers and veterinary team are still at the zoo every day caring for our animals. From enrichments to treats, check-ups to scratch-downs, here’s how we’re #closedbutstillcaring. Click on any image to start the slideshow. Mouse over to see … Continued

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When the Nurse (Shark) meets the Vet

NOTE: This exam took place before recent social distancing recommendations were mandated. “Everyone ready?” Seven heads nodded, seven pairs of feet braced in neoprene boots, and four pairs of thickly-gloved hands readied a wide, webbed stretcher. The aquarist team had gathered in the South Pacific Aquarium isolation pool at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, with … Continued

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Jelly Babies

On the visitor side, the jellyfish gallery in the Pacific Seas Aquarium is a serene blue world of floating, pulsing forms. From eggcup to dinner-plate size, they hover in a kind of translucent eternity. Behind a nearby door, however, is another world; a world of bubbling tanks, petri dishes and complicated piping. This is the … Continued

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