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.

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

Making Turtle Waves

The look on Keilan Fowora’s face was priceless. “Are these real?” asked the seven-year-old, running his fingers over a sea turtle shell and the sharp teeth on a shark jaw bone. “Yep, they’re real,” assured Heather Detwiler, outreach associate for Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, standing behind the table at Tacoma’s STAR Center. Then Keilan’s … Continued

Read More
Spider crabs make a scientific splash

Aquarist Mikiko Williams, clad in a black wetsuit, stood in the Japanese Spider Crab habitat at the Pacific Seas Aquarium, reached down, gently picked up an animal that weighed about 8 pounds and hoisted it up and out of the water. It was just after 8:30 a.m., the Zoo would open in an hour, and … Continued

Read More
Caring for the small: Rockfish and seahorse

In a corridor surrounded by pipes, tanks and equipment, three women crouch over a tub. One – an intern veterinarian – carefully handles a Q-tip swab. The second – a veterinarian – readies a microscope slide. The third – an aquarist – has her gloved hands submerged, gently holding a china rockfish. A fourth aquarist … Continued

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