December 2017
Note from the Executive Director

Check out these barnacles! This is a new addition to our tanks, and it is mesmerizing to watch them as their feathery appendages beat rhythmically to draw plankton and detritus into their shell. After they were introduced to our tank, the water clarity immediately improved! It is amazing to notice how often overlooked filter feeders, like barnacles and shellfish, contribute to the water quality of the Puget Sound. We often teach people on the beach that even though these guys don't look alive, they are indeed important animals, and we should be careful about where we step so they can continue providing a critical role in our estuaries.

I want to thank everyone who has donated to our winter fundraising campaign. This winter, we have an incredible opportunity! For every $1 you donate to the Estuarium through February, the Dawkins Charitable Trust will donate $2, up to $15,000. Your donation this winter will improve the Estuarium facility and help to expand our K-12 educational projects. You can donate at , or you can participate in the Give Local campaign through December 13th that also provides the Estuarium with matching funds.

In this issue, I am proud to present our Annual Report and all our amazing volunteers who won awards at our Thanks4Giving event. I also want to thank two of our most talented supporters as they move on to new adventures, including Keith Arnold - an amazing board member who contributed so much to strengthen our organization and Taisha McFall, our Estuarium Manager - who inspired so many community members to protect the Puget Sound. Thank you for your dedication and hard work!

I hope you enjoy this issue and your holiday season!
Give Local - Giving Bonus Wednesday

Today is "Giving Bonus Wednesdays"! If you donate to us through the Give Local campaign today, you will be entered to win an additional $100 to give to the Give Local nonprofit of your choice - hopefully the Puget Sound Estuarium!

Our Give Local campaign is raising money for our amazing Estuarium facility, where more than 3,000 community members visit each year. Our facility features an astonishing diversity of live animals from intertidal environments in Puget Sound. The public can view live sea stars, crabs, sea cucumbers, chitons, fish, and much more in our saltwater tanks. We teach visitors how to identify animals, provide information about their adaptations, and inspire individuals to look for these creatures on our local beaches.

Your donation will also be used to continue to offer the Estuarium as a location for our K-12 field trips during which our educators provide lesson plans and activities that are aligned with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) standards and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) standards. We believe that giving people the opportunity to experience nature, whether in the Estuarium, on the beach, or on the water is critical to provide community members with reasons to be good environmental stewards. Your gift will help us foster appreciation of our incredible estuary and marine resources in the Puget Sound!

Donate today through the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound or through our website , and your contribution will be matched !

In November, we held our Thanks4Giving event during which we honored our volunteers and supporters. The event was super fun, and everyone enjoyed a trivia game that challenged us with super tough estuary questions.

The following is a list of awards given:

  • Lifetime Achievement award- Nicki Johnson
  • Youngest Volunteer- Miranda Schreiner
  • Most Overall Volunteer Hours- Paula Craft
  • Most Overall Board Hours- Nancy Arnold
  • Rookie of the Year- Robin McPherson
  • Board Rock Star- Heather Dunn
  • Most Interpreter Hours- Briana Gage
  • Most Hours at the Estuarium- Anna Lowry
  • Estuarium Rookie of the Year- Baylen Ratliff
  • Estuarium Rock Star- Kurt Wochholz
  • Overall Hours on the Beach- Sandy Zeiner
  • Meet the Beach Rookie of the Year- Amanda Newsom
  • Meet the Beach Rock Star- Bob Vadas
  • Overall K-12 Hours- Bob Wharton
  • K-12 Rookie of the Year- Erin Sublette
  • K-12 Rock Star- Andrea Steward

A big thank you to all our volunteers and supporters in 2017!
Annual Report

We are proud to present our 2017 Annual Report, which can be found HERE . We had an amazing year, filled with incredible accomplishments! These successes are a direct result of our dedicated board, staff, volunteers, and donors.

Some highlights include:

  • Our volunteers donated more than 3,800 hours of their time
  • We increased our reach to 13,840 community members, which is 5,420 more than last year!
  • 3,000 community members visited the Estuarium facility
  • We educated 2,823 beachgoers on 5 beaches through 22 low tide events
  • We reached a total of 1,100 K-12 students
  • We increased Pier Peer participants by more than 30%
  • We reached more than 2,500 community members during outreach events, including Harbor Days

We look forward to building on these successes in 2018. Thank you to everyone that made this possible!
Program Updates

While many of our local watershed animals are sleeping soundly through the coldest days of December, under the Estuarine waters of Puget Sound, excitement abounds! Because the tides are at their calmest, and many of the predatory birds and land animals have migrated or are hibernating, the cold waters of December offer perfect breeding conditions and many of our local fish species are busy building nests, finding mates, and bringing forth the next generation. 
At the Estuarium, our own feisty animal ambassador, Bonnie the staghorn sculpin, has begun the breeding process by developing a large amount of pink eggs that are visible through the translucent skin on her belly. In the coming weeks she may lay those eggs and hope for fertilization, or her body may re-absorb them if breeding conditions aren't optimal. Since the male and female staghorn sculpins are identical in appearance, we weren't sure if Bonnie was even a girl until she developed eggs! No word yet on whether or not her tank-mate, Clyde, is a suitable male or if he is actually a she as well. 
Our talented Aquarist, Noel, started installing a beautiful new aquarium which will add to our current collection of local nearshore species! Come visit the Estuarium during our open hours to see Bonnie and Clyde and the rest of our growing aquatic collection. 

It is with a heavy heart that say goodbye to our Estuarium Manager, Taisha McFall. Taisha was one of the Estuarium's most incredible educators, inspiring community members to learn more about Puget Sound creatures and habitats. We wish her good luck in all her future adventures!

The Estuarium provides excellent educational opportunities for all ages! If you would like to schedule a special visit to the Estuarium, please contact
Pier Peer

Our next events are:
  • Wednesday, December 13 @ 5:00 PM – Click HERE to register. (Only 1 spot left!)
  • Wednesday, January 10 @ 5:00 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 you call a diatom that wags its tail and fetches your slippers?
A: Fido-plankton!

Diatoms are a super-important group of phytoplankton (microscopic plants and algae) which are responsible for creating a large portion of the Earth's oxygen. Pet waste from dogs and cats are very harmful to diatoms, so remember to always pick up and dispose of your Fido's waste in the trash!

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! 

  • Laura Lowe and the Mud Bay Blues Band
  • Nancy LaPointe Navigate Financial 
  • Kevin Gordham
  • Cynthia Worth Law Group
  • The Pet Works - Estuarium
  • LOTT's WET Science Center - Discovery Speaker Series
  • Coffee News - Connecting the Community
  • Boston Harbor Marina - Pier Peer
  • My Girl Yacht - K-12 Education
  • TSS Digital Services - Estuarium

Foundation Support:
  • The Russell Family Foundation
  • WA Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • The Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment
  • The Norcliffe Foundation
  • Pacific Shellfish Growers Association
  • Nisqually Indian Tribe
  • The Community Foundation of South Puget Sound
  • US Fish and Wildlife