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We followed a feeder around Seattle Aquarium for a day, to see how their daily life has changed since the pandemic. The animals don't know any different, and they still need to be fed! (Image: Elizabeth Crook / Seattle Refined)

Snack Time at The Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium may be currently closed to the public but that doesn't mean the animals don't get hungry!

“There is a core staff here that is taking care of the animals. That is their primary job all of the time,” said Kim Thomas, a marine science interpreter and SCUBA diver at the aquarium.

One of the first things guests normally see when visiting the aquarium is the Window on Washington Waters exhibit, the GIANT fish tank right in the lobby. Thomas put on her diving suit, tank and mask to take a swim and feed the fish. In another wing of the aquarium, staff is feeding the sea otters and harbor seals.

The corridors are empty and quiet as staff members silently move about their business of feeding and cleaning while wearing masks and aquarium issued cover-alls.

“Our sea otters, they consume a lot of food each day," said Thomas. "They need to eat about 25% of their body weight each day to stay healthy. So our male who weighs about 75lbs, that's close to 18 pounds of food each day."

What's on the menu?

“They like things like crab, shrimp, squid, clams,” she said.

During our visit, we watch a sea otter grab a clam and smash it on the rocks, opening it up just enough to take a bite of the morsel within. Below the surface, shells are scattered along the bottom of the otter habitat. Proving these creatures are well practiced at shucking clams and cracking crab shells.


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The harbor seal habitat is abuzz during feeding time. Not only because the seals are happy to eat but because the staff uses electric toothbrushes to clean their teeth. During our visit, it was obvious that cleanliness was very important to aquarium staff. Habitats were being vigorously scrubbed. We even saw one staff member cleaning rocks with a brush.

“It is extremely important our animals receive really exceptional care. It’s our responsibility... we are really looking forward to the days when we can have our guests back and our volunteers at the aquarium,” Kim said.

If you'd like to see what the animals at the Seattle Aquarium are doing right now, click here to watch a LIVE video feed. The Aquarium just announced that they've been approved for re-opening in Phase 2, and will open late June at 25% capacity with timed ticketing. Visitors will be required to wear masks, and there will be a one-way path through the facility to maintain physical distancing. Latest information and updates can be found online.