August 2017
Note from the Executive Director

As you can see from the above mural, Carrie Ziegler and our volunteers have been very busy in July splashing the town with plankton and diatoms! It was nice to see so many community members donating their time to give the wall a makeover that also serves as an educational piece, highlighting the importance of microscopic critters in our estuary ecosystems.

August means that Shark Month is here at the Estuarium! We invited two shark experts, Sandy Zeiner and Dayv Lowry to speak about these JAW-some creatures. Plus, this month is your last chance to come "Meet the Beach" in 2017. Our last Meet the Beach day is August 20th at Tolmie and Burfoot. Join us to discover the amazing creatures that live on these beautiful beaches. The next Pier Peer is full, but the August 15th event still has spots available; register today by clicking HERE

There are only 10 spaces left for our SSEA the Sound cruise on August 27th! Purchase your tickets today by clicking HERE. We will learn about the geology of Puget Sound and current shoreline processes while enjoying great food and supporting critical Puget Sound Estuarium education programs. 

A  couple of reminders. To keep up on events and volunteer team meetings, subscribe to our online calendar. Also, we just updated our volunteer team page, so if you'd like more information about our Education, Outreach, Development, and Events Teams, which meet monthly, visit our webpage HERE. Click HERE to check out our wishlist or visit Amazon. For example, our Estuarium computer stopped working just recently, and we are looking for an up to date system. Donations of equipment and supplies are so critical to our ability to keep moving our mission forward. We can't thank our supporters enough!

Stay cool and enjoy this August!
Plankton Mural!

In July, dozens of volunteers helped Carrie Ziegler paint the plankton and diatom mural art project. We are so thankful for everyone's time and wanted to share some progress with you. Top right is a before photo, and bottom right is mid-progress photo. Isn't it beautiful? The mural will be completed soon, so keep posted to our Facebook page to see the final product! For more information or to help with the finishing touches, contact Carrie Ziegler at

Program Updates


For all of June and July, the Estuarium explored the world of our mostly microscopic friends, plankton. Did you know that the world's largest fish, the whale shark, only eats plankton? Incredible! 

You can learn all about the whale shark and all the other hundreds of elasmobranch* species during Shark Month at the Estuarium each weekend in August. We will have games, books, activities, and special guests to help us discover why sharks are so fascinating and to learn how we can protect our 11 local Puget Sound shark species. It's going to be JAW-some!
*a big science word for sharks, skates, and rays

If you would like to schedule a field trip at the Estuarium, please email for more information.

Meet the Beach 

Our Beach Naturalists rocked the beach in July! This month 26 Beach Naturalists explored the beach over 7 beach days and helped 778 of our neighbors make connections with the creatures of Puget Sound. 

We can’t tell you how many little future scientists we met at the beach this month. At West Bay, after more than an hour on the beach, one mom told her little boy that it was time to leave for lunch. He told her, “I’m not ready yet!” as he followed Amanda around the beach. When they finally left, he shouted, “I’m coming back every week!” One little girl at West Bay identified all of our specimens. When we asked her how she knew so much, she said that she learned from us during our day program at Garfield Elementary. A 5-year-old little girl at Priest Point declared her intention to be a Herpetologist when she grows up. When we told her that Patty would help her find creatures, she ran down to the beach, swinging her little pink beach pail behind her, leaving her parents standing. One man shouted, “No way!” when we showed him barnacles feeding. Burfoot is "crawling" with horse clams. A man was harvesting horse and butter clams so we all got a good look at clam feet and horse clam necks. At Tolmie, we found two mottled sea stars, and we saw a hermit crab in a moon snail shell. One man was surprised to learn that sand dollars are actual live animals. And you have to check out our time lapsed MOON SNAIL VIDEO  - it's a must see!!! 

Our “Base Camps” seem to be a hit with beach goers. At the foot of the trail at the top of the beach, we set up a canopy with preserved specimens like a red octopus, pile worm, and squid as well as live specimens, like feeding barnacles, crabs, and sand dollars. To get to the beach, people have to pass by our canopy. It is easy to draw them in. All we say is, “hey, do you wanna see our octopus?” People, especially children, can’t resist. This gives us an opportunity to educate the children about some of the creatures that live in Puget Sound, but that we don’t normally find on the beach. At the Base Camp we can have longer discussions with children, like about how crabs grow, before the children are out on the beach and distracted with the live crabs they find hiding under rocks. The Base Camp Canopy also provides nice shade for weary Beach Naturalists – and families. 

Meet the Beach Field Trips

In July, we organized three Meet the Beach field trips. One field trip was with 14 children from Sequoia’s Treehouse’s preschool summer camp. For this field trip we premiered our Estuary Tale - the story of the Ice Princess, Angeline, and her brother the Knight of the Tides, Fjord. A very long time ago Angeline was separated from her brother; the Ice Princess lived at the top of Mount Rainer, while her brother lived in Pacific Ocean. One day, missing Fjord terribly, the Ice Princess decided to melt herself into a cool fresh river. She flowed through Chehalis and Tumwater to Burfoot to meet her brother who had travelled through the Strait of Juan de Fuca on an Orca. Together they made a beautiful home for themselves and their animal friends.

Thanks to a US Fish and Wildlife Connecting People to Nature grant with Lacey's Playground Pals, we coordinated beach field trips for 80 kids in July. The children were so sweet, appreciative, and joyful to be on a field trip at the beach. These low-income children (ages 6-12 years old) don’t normally get opportunities to go on quality field trips. One little girl was so excited because it was the first time she had been ever been on a field trip. The children patiently listened as we talked to them about sand dollars and estuaries and tides. Then they ran squealing and splashing into the cool water.

Pier Peer

Pier Peer is back! If you missed it, the kickoff event in July was awesome. We put lights down at night and waited to see which critters would come out. Participants got to scoop up kelp crabs in addition to checking out wriggling worms, shrimp, sea gooseberries, sticklebacks, perch, and limpets. After an hour of the lights being on, one participant nicknamed an area "fish city." Truly amazing to see so many perch swarming! 

Our August Pier Peer events include: 

Saturday, August 5th @ 9:00 PM – SOLD OUT
Tuesday, August 15th @ 9:00 PM – Click HERE to register

Participants (Age 13 and older) – $10
Children (Age 12 and younger) – FREE

Private Group Events –  If you are interested in scheduling a private group visit, please email
Laughs from Larry, the Spiny Lumpsucker

Q: What do shark trees consist of?
A: Elasmobranches!

Elasmobranchii is a subclass of cartilaginous fish, including sharks, rays, skates, and sawfish. The Puget Sound is home to 11 species of sharks. Of these 11, three that are seen regularly are the Spiny Dogfish, the Sixgill Shark, and the Brown Cat Shark.  

To submit your joke, email
About the Puget Sound Estuarium
Explore * Connect * Inspire

The Puget Sound Estuarium was founded by the South Sound Estuary Association (SSEA) to create opportunities for the public to learn about estuaries, geology, natural and cultural history, marine life, and human impact on the Puget Sound (the biggest estuary in the United States by volume and second largest in the United States by shoreline).

Our mission is to foster learning opportunities that inspire people of all ages to connect with, protect, and enjoy the unique estuary environment of the Puget Sound. 

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and are supported by donations from caring individuals like you. Please help us continue our work by donating today. You can donate by mailing your check to: South Sound Estuary Association, PO Box 2182, Olympia, WA 98507, or visiting
Our Supporters

We are grateful to have the support of our major donors, sponsors, and partners. Support these local businesses & partners. They support the Puget Sound Estuarium!  
  • Nancy LaPointe Navigate Financial 
  • Cynthia Worth Law Group
  • LOTT's WET Science Center - Discovery Speaker Series partner 
  • Coffee News - Outreach partner
  • Boston Harbor Marina - Pier Peer partner
  • TSS Digital Services - Providing Internet and phone services to the Estuarium
  • William Thomas, Aquariums W - Aquarium maintenance
  • Olympia Parks and Recreation - Meet the Beach
  • Thurston County Parks - Meet the Beach
  • Washington State Parks - Meet the Beach