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Overview – Alaska SeaLife Center
The Alaska SeaLife Center is a phenomenal non-profit research institution and one of the best tourist attractions in Alaska. Located in Seward, Alaska, the Center isn’t just a public aquarium, but is active in research, outreach and education concerning Alaska marine life, as well as involved in response, rescue, and rehabilitation of marine wildlife in Alaska.
Possible Closure – Help Needed!
Sadly, because of the lack of tourism to Alaska due to COVID-19, the SeaLife Center may need to close its doors permanently. This would be devastating to the city of Seward, the employees of ASLC, researchers, and the countless animals the Center helps.
You can help in a number of ways by donating, purchasing a membership, or helping fundraise at their website here: Save The Center
In helping with fundraising efforts, I’ll be donating 20% of profits from my marine wildlife gallery print and license sales directly to the Alaska SeaLife Center for the rest of the year.
About the Center – Public Aquarium
Visiting the aquarium at the Alaska SeaLife Center is truly a unique experience. It almost feels out-of-place as a state of the art facility in a state where the majority of the buildings seem like they’re straight out of the 1950’s. The exhibits are gorgeously done. They do a great job at presenting wildlife in incredibly good replicas of their natural habitats.
The wildlife exhibits encompass a diverse set of animals from birds, marine mammals, fish, octopi, jellyfish, crabs, and more. You’ll find hands-on exhibits where you can touch sea urchins and sea stars. Some showcases include a two-story “diving” pool for sea birds, an over 150,000-gallon Stellar sea lion habitat, and the Octopus Grotto with giant Pacific octopi.
Education is the primary focus of the public aquarium. While there are enough infographics throughout the aquarium that anyone can have their own interpretive educative walk-through, the staff are also incredibly helpful and informative. There’s always someone around that can provide answers for curious minds. They offer multiple education programs for youth and teachers, as well as doing local outreach.
The aquarium also offers tours and encounters on top of regular admission, typically 30 minutes to an hour in length. The tours are led by knowledgable animal care-staff at the center, and many are kid-friendly (minimum ages posted). Encounters range in activities from learning about and feeding puffins or Steller sea lions to getting to shake hands with an octopus. *In summer of 2020 there are two encounters available, the Octopus Adventure and Steller Sea Lion Exclusive. Advanced ticket purchase is necessary.
About the Center – Behind the Scenes
As great of a place as the public aquarium is, it’s what the Alaska SeaLife Center does behind the scenes that counts. The Center is a participating member in the Alaska Stranding Network, a group of organizations that works to collect information about marine mammal strandings and aid in the recovery of entangled or injured wildlife. This research helps improve assistance in the rescue and care of injured or stranded marine mammals throughout the state. The Center has and continues to take part in many rescues, rehabilitation, and reintroduction efforts as well as taking on a crucial role in oil spill response.
The Science Department has been a part of the Alaska SeaLife Center since its inception and continues to be an integral part of the institution. Researchers provide valuable information on how ecological processes and changes affect marine animal physiology and population dynamics. The Science Department collaborates with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and offers research positions for graduate students and post-doc candidates. They also aid in veterinarian programs and work with government agencies at all levels.
This unique position the SeaLife Center holds, playing a hand in science, rescue, rehabilitation, and education allows them to relay information about many of these projects to the general public at the aquarium. Although small, the Alaska SeaLife Center is truly one of the most informative, best run public aquariums in the country.