July 2017
Note from the Executive Director

We hope you had a fantastic 4th of July! At the Estuarium, we've been enjoying the weather and our beaches! Our amazing, trained volunteers are happy to answer your questions, help you explore the beach, and identify estuary critters you find at low tide.
Check the schedule at and beat the summer heat.

I am super excited to announce that the pier is now repaired at Boston Harbor Marina! In June, we welcomed our new Pier Peer Coordinator, Hanna Jones, and she has set up two Pier Peer events- Thursday, July 13th (Click HERE to register) and Saturday, July 22nd (Click HERE to register). This is one of our most popular events, so make sure you register soon!

The plankton mural is also planned for July. We are so thankful to Volunteers in Paint, who just recently scraped the wall next to the Estuarium downtown. If you are interested in contributing to the mural, a community painting day is scheduled for July 15th at 9 AM. Stay up to date with details about this event on our website ( as it is weather dependent. For more information or to help out, contact Carrie Ziegler at .

Don't forget to purchase your SSEA the Sound cruise tickets for August 27th by clicking HERE! Tickets are just $55 for members and $65 for non-members. During this afternoon cruise, we will learn about the geology of Puget Sound and current shoreline processes while enjoying conversation and good food. Most importantly, you will be supporting critical Puget Sound Estuarium education programs. 

Enjoy your July and this edition. See you on the beach!
Pier Peer is Back!

The pier at Boston Harbor is repaired, and we are starting up Pier Peer again! Come discover the mysterious creatures that live below. Our trained biologists provide underwater lights that attract spectacular estuary creatures for you to safely scoop up and observe, while our volunteer Beach Naturalists help you identify what you’ve found. From octopus to anemones, from sea stars to sea slugs, you never know what you’ll encounter! Pier Peer is one of our most popular events, so register early to ensure your spot.

Register for Upcoming Events

July 13th @ 9:30PM – Click HERE to register
July 22nd @ 9:30PM – Click HERE to register

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

Children 12 and under – Must wear life jackets during this event and be accompanied by an adult (at least 1 adult per 2 children). This event involves some contact with deep water and is not recommended for children under 6 years old.

Attire/Gear – We highly recommend that each participant bring their own flashlight! Please wear non-slip shoes and dress for the weather.

Private Group Events –  If you are interested in scheduling a private group visit, please email

Plankton Party!

Last month, 37 community members attended a very fun event at the Estuarium - a Plankton Party! Mary Middleton from Pacific Shellfish Institute talked about plankton and how ocean acidification effects them. Carrie Ziegler also reviewed the plankton mural art project happening this month in July. We had an opportunity to draw our favorite plankton for the mural design, and some kids even decided to sketch plankton on the ground using colorful chalk!  

We are so thankful to Volunteers in Paint, who just recently scraped the wall next to the Estuarium downtown. If you are interested in contributing to the mural, a community painting day is scheduled for July 15th at 9 AM. Stay up to date with details about this event on our website ( as it is weather dependent. For more information or to help, contact Carrie Ziegler at .

Program Updates


We are happy to announce that the Estuarium recently received funding to create a native estuary plant exhibit (from the WA Native Plant Society) and a new shellfish exhibit (from the Pacific Shellfish Growers Association). We are super excited to get started on both of them this summer!

For all of June and July, the Estuarium will be exploring the world of our mostly microscopic friends, plankton. Did you know that the aquarists at the Estuarium have to make sure that our many invertebrate species are eating enough plankton to survive? Whether it's store-bought plankton or fresh from the Puget Sound, our husbandry volunteers feed many of our animals individually with a dropper full of smelly, nutritious planktonic goodness. 

Fun Fact: not all plankton is microscopic. Being planktonic simply means that the aquatic organism cannot swim against the current. For example, the world's heaviest bony fish, the Mola Mola (pictured above), is considered planktonic. 

Stop by the Estuarium this month during open hours to learn more awesome stuff about our local plankton population, and why these typically tiny organisms are so very important. 

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

Meet the Beach 

June was a great month for Meet the Beach! Last month, 29 Beach Naturalists were out exploring the beach over four weekend low-tide days. On one day alone, 13 volunteer Beach Naturalists worked on three beaches. We reached 839 beachgoers, who all now have a greater appreciation for Puget Sound and the creatures that live there.

This month at Tolmie, our volunteers saw a man catching a Pacific staghorn sculpin, schooling sticklebacks, juvenile flatfish, lots of graceful crab females laying eggs, and more sea lettuce than we ve seen this year. At Burfoot, we saw orange anemones, dying midshipman, midshipman eggs, horse mussels, and a live purple shore crab. We even found a fossil! At Frye Cove, Beach Naturalists saw shrimp, limpets, and a moon snail.

This month, we also introduced our new beach buckets. We can now carry all of our Meet the Beach supplies down to the beach in two 5 - gallon buckets. These buckets are lighter, easier to carry, and they double as a stool! We are in the process of updating and formalizing some of the Meet the Beach roles, policies, and forms. For example, we ve simplified the Beach Naturalist Journal, where our volunteers record important data and information about their day at the beach.

We also created Beach Stations at the top of the beach on Meet the Beach days. Individual Beach Naturalists will take a 20 - minute turn staffing the station, where they will provide additional information to the public about Puget Sound, Meet the Beach, and the Estuarium. AND, they will direct beachgoers to the Beach Naturalists exploring the shore.

A reporter from Thurston Talk joined us for our Meet the Beach at Burfoot on Sunday, June 25. Keep an eye out for the article, and let us know when you see it. Additionally, a ll of our Meet the Beach events are now on Facebook. Check us out and share the events with your friends!

Meet the Beach Field Trips

In June, we organized two Meet the Beach field trips. One was with Charles Wright Academy. This class of 35 well - prepared and curious third graders studied the Nisqually River Watershed all year. They did field work at nine different locations throughout the watershed and ended the year at Tolmie State Park, studying the adaptations of animals living at the beach. The group of students were divided into two stations; one station participated in an introduction that tied the river watershed to the beach, while the other station explored the beach with our Beach Naturalists. The teacher, Deanne Trummert said that the students had a great trip. The kids were able to make connections to our work in the classroom and see very cool critters.

The second field trip was at Burfoot. The participants for this field trip were residents of Panorama, a local retirement community. During this field trip, we also piloted our ocean acidification module. We hope to continue developing short modules that Beach Naturalists can use to better educate the public about Puget Sound, beach habitats, and human impacts that threaten the Puget Sound . Next month, we are looking forward to taking 150 low - income students on Meet the Beach field trips as part of Lacey Parks and Recreation's Connecting People to Nature grant.
Pier Peer

Pier Peer is back! Check out the article above for more information. 

Thursday, July 13th @ 9:30 PM – Click HERE to register
Saturday, July 22nd @ 9:30 PM – Click HERE to register

Participants (Age 13 and older) – $10
Children (Age 12 and younger) – FREE
Laughs from Larry, the Spiny Lumpsucker

Q: What do you call a fish with a tie?
A: soFISHticated

In 2015, NOAA scientists identified 253 fish species observed in marine or brackish waters of the Salish Sea ecosystem. These 253 species encompass 1 myxinid, 2 petromyzontids, 18 chondrichthyans, 2 chondrosteans, and 230 teleosts. They are contained within 78 families and 31 orders.

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 SSEA!  
  • 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
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