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

Hungry, Hungry Hammerheads

“Wow, they’re huge!” is something both Zoo guests and staff can be heard saying inside the Pacific Seas Aquarium. They’re talking about the scalloped hammerhead sharks that have dramatically grown since they first arrived in 2017 as nearly 2-foot-long pups. Now, they are an impressive five to six-feet long. And wow, do they love to … Continued

Read More
2020 Year in Photos

What a year this has been! From clouded leopard AI to a new muskox calf, from Zoolights to HeroRATs and everything in between, we’ve captured this year in our best photos of 2020.  

Read More
New Animal Experiences Available

Visit the Zoo before the crowds arrive, feed an unusual hero, groom a goat, dive with sharks or go behind-the-scenes of the Pacific Seas Aquarium. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is expanding its Zoo for You exclusive animal experiences with two new premier adventures. In addition to grooming goats, diving with sharks and a behind-the-scenes … Continued

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