Look Mom, my finger is getting a hug!
That’s what my five-year-old said when first the anemone and then the sea urchin gave her tiny finger a squeeze at the Port Townsend’s Marine Science Center. Kids love the cool pools! And adults do too. At this seaside aquarium you’ll find interactive, hands-on exhibits–literally. PTMSC is a fantastic place to get up close and personal with countless sea plants and animals of the Salish Sea. On site, visitors will find touch tanks, microscopes, and a hydrophone to listen to whales off shore. There is also a fully articulated Orca skeleton (one of only six in the U.S.) available for viewing. Port Townsend Marine Center also offers low-tide beach walks, summer camps, and classes, including Plankton and Crab Lab; Introduction to Marine Mammals; Tails to Scales; and, Birds of Shore and Sea.
Founded in 1982 by two teachers, Judy D’Amore and Libby Palmer, the center was initially run entirely by volunteers. I first visited the science center in the early 90s and it has changed over the years. Volunteers, now number more than 100 and the touch tanks are much more accessible and user-friendly than when I visited over 20 years ago.
We had a fantastic time poking and prodding sea cucumbers, clams, urchins, anemone, barnacles and even one sand dollar (the first time I’ve ever seen one alive). My daughter squealed with delight watching the tiny sea creatures retreat into their protective homes or wrap their tentacles lightly around her fingers.
The staff were super friendly and knowledgeable and in the summer they employ several AmeriCorp volunteers. I peppered one with a number of questions and she was so enthusiastic and knew so much about the marine life we were touching (thanks Zofia!).
Then we meandered over to the Natural History Exhibit where we learned about the history of ancient marine life and got to check out a full-sized Orca skeleton. There were a lot of interesting “see, do and learn” opportunities here, especially for kids grade school age and older.
If you find yourself in the Port Townsend area, make sure to visit the Port Townsend Marine Science Center! They are located at the water’s edge, below Fort Worden, at 532 Battery Way. Hours: Wednesday-Monday 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. Admission prices: Adults $5; Kids $3; Members–free. And take a look at their website: http://www.ptmsc.org.
It’s all about the journey,