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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.

Open For Touching Daily Thur-Mon: 9:30-3:30

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. Explore a beautiful tidal world.
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

Saving Puget Sound’s Underwater Forests

An underwater crisis is happening, and there isn’t one apparent reason. Since the 1870s, South Puget Sound’s shorelines have lost about two-thirds of their bull kelp forests, according to a … Continued

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Leopard Eel Receives a CT Scan

Larry Gordon, a 30-year-old leopard eel, recently traveled from his home at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to Summit Veterinary Hospital to receive a CT scan. In April, Zoo Associate … Continued

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Happy Zookeeper Week

National Zookeeper Week takes place July 17-23 this year. The week is devoted to sharing the passion and dedication of keepers. Our zookeepers and aquarists are a dedicated group of … Continued

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