Port Townsend marine center focuses on local sea life for Friday season opener
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Maddie, an adult female octopus, with Port Townsend Marine Science Center Program Coordinator Chrissy McLean during feeding time Monday. —Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — An intimate display of animals that can be found in local waters will be on view to the public this Friday as the Port Townsend Marine Science Center opens its doors for the season.

“Every year it’s different,” said the center’s Marine Program Coordinator Chrissy McLean.

“We are still collecting the animals that we are going to put on display.”

The marine display, which features 14 tanks with thousands of different animals, is located at the end of the pier that extends from Fort Worden State Park.

The new season begins Friday with a public feed where visitors are invited to help feed the animals at 2 p.m..

The event will take place every Saturday at 2 p.m.

New this year are two octopuses and an egg case full of skates that are ready to hatch.

“Everything you see here is living right underneath us,” McLean said.

“When you look outside you see this flat, blue water and have no idea about the amazing creatures that are under the surface.”

Each of the tanks are configured to contain animals that can get along with each other.

Natural predators and prey are kept apart.

“We have a giant Puget Sound king crab that we want to put somewhere, but it has to be with animals that won’t get eaten,” McLean said.

“A large salmon or any kind of schooling fish won’t make it into the displays as there is not enough room to move around,” she said.

“We want to make sure they have a habitat that is close to what they are living in.”

Seven people work full time at the center, in addition to four AmeriCorps volunteers and two summer interns.

The Marine Science Center, established in 1982, offers educational programs for groups with an emphasis on youth, as well as workshops for teachers meant to help them teach a marine science curriculum in schools.

McLean said that close proximity to the sea animals can prompt people to make wiser ecological decisions in their own lives.

“Our goal is getting people to take action to help conserve marine life,” she said.

“Many people who see these animals are motivated toward taking the next step in their preservation. They might stop driving around in a car that leaks oil because they learn that the oil can find its way into the water.”

Volunteers who can help with conservation projects also are needed, as are donors to support the operation of the center.

“A lot of times we can get money for a specific program, but finding money for day to day operations can be a bit harder,” McLean said.

“We aren’t real fancy. We don’t have a lot of stuff, and we are frugal,” she said.

“We need money so we can feed the animals and keep the pumps running, which is really essential to what we do here.”

The center’s spring hours are noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

Summer hours begin June 13 and will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Tuesday.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for youth and free for children five and under.

For more information, visit http://www.ptmsc.org or phone 360-385-5582 or 800-566-3932 toll free.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 24. 2014 6:22PM
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