Port Angeles, Washington
January 12, 2003
The Marine Life Center is owned by the City of Port Angeles and operated in conjuction with Peninsula College. It is a nonprofit venture, staffed with helpful volunteers, with the goal of providing education to local residents and visitors and promoting environmental stewardship. Admission fees are nominal: $2.50 for those over age 12, $1 for seniors, $1 for children 5 to 12, and free for those under age 5.
The Marine Life Center is located on the City Pier in Port Angeles, so it is convenient to visit from the downtown hub where most of the shopping, dining, and waterfront activities take place. It is also located next to Hollywood Beach and the Waterfront Trail. The building has fantastic murals painted on the side and signs welcoming you inside.
Once inside, at first glance the Center appears quite humble--a couple dry displays and some big tubs of water. But once you peek into the tubs, the fun begins! The tubs simulate tidepools, filled with colorful intertidal creatures--sea anemones, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, crabs, starfish, snails, and many more. And not just little ones, either--some of them are HUGE, and SLIMY! One pool is a "gentle touch" pool, which the kids will LOVE. I highly recommend the Marine Life Center for families and children--definitely a "must-see" for kids.
In addition to interpretive signs, there are volunteers on duty to answer questions. You can also find out where the best places are in the area to find tidepools so that you can look for these creatures in the wild. They will teach you about how to see the sea life without doing harm. You can learn about what the animals eat and about the web of life that exists in the sea. The volunteers can likely also tell you about marine mammals and shore birds. Harbor seals and a huge variety of birds are always seen in the area. And occasionally some whales swim by!
If you want to read up on sea life before coming to the Olympic Peninsula, check out the Marine Life Center's website. Also, I found a ton of great information at theOlympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary website. There are good books for purchase at local bookstores and at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center. If you are visiting the west coast of the peninsula, check at the coastal ranger stations of Olympic National Park for the days and times of the free ranger-guided beach and tidepool walks given in the summer.
Summer hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm
Off-season hours: Saturday-Sunday noon-4pm
From journal Olympic Peninsula for all seasons