Feiro Marine Life Center guest services specialist Disa Wilson, right, answers questions from visitors Kellye Wittenburg of Boerne, Texas, left center, and her children, Kate, 11, and Jack, 6, on Saturday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Feiro Marine Life Center guest services specialist Disa Wilson, right, answers questions from visitors Kellye Wittenburg of Boerne, Texas, left center, and her children, Kate, 11, and Jack, 6, on Saturday in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Feiro Marine Life Center reopens at Port Angeles City Pier

Online registration can be secured for 45-minute visit

PORT ANGELES — Feiro Marine Life Center at Port Angeles City Pier has reopened to the public, but don’t expect to just drop in to see the fish or touch the urchins.

Admission to the center is now reservation-only under state guidelines for COVID-19 containment through social distancing.

Feiro Executive Director Melissa Williams said Friday, the official reopening day, that the reservation system was the only workable plan for opening the doors.

Melissa Williams, executive director of the Feiro Marine Life Center at Port Angeles City Pier, looks over the center’s touch tanks with newly-installed glass separation panels to distance workers from visitors. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Melissa Williams, executive director of the Feiro Marine Life Center at Port Angeles City Pier, looks over the center’s touch tanks with newly-installed glass separation panels to distance workers from visitors. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Reservations need to be made through the Feiro website 24 hours in advance to ensure staffing at the center, Williams said.

Booking information can be found at www.feiromarinelifecenter.org.

“It’s a free booking, just go online, and it’s just like making a reservation at a restaurant,” she said. “You just pick a time, and you get 45 minutes.”

Groups are limited to eight people from the same household group.

Admission fees, which had traditionally been in place during the busy summer tourist season, have been waived for now, but visitors are encouraged to make donations and to purchase items from the center’s gift shop.

“We didn’t want the price to be a big reason why people wouldn’t come,” Williams said. “But we do ask you, many times during the process, for a donation.”

Under the original re-opening guidelines issued by Gov. Jay Inslee, zoos and museums were set to open under Phase 3, but zoos were moved into Phase 2 in early June.

Williams said aquariums were closely related to zoos by default but presented greater challenges to social distancing because of the confined space.

“We’re just not big enough to have more groups in here at a time,” she said.

A viewing tank containing urchins and other marine animals is now available for Feiro Marine Life Center visitors who make reservations. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

A viewing tank containing urchins and other marine animals is now available for Feiro Marine Life Center visitors who make reservations. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

To qualify for re-opening, Feiro installed clear partitions across the center’s touch tanks, creating a barrier between visitors and docents.

Microscopes once used to view tiny sea creatures were removed from public reach, and other hard-to-clean items, such as the children’s sandbox, were moved into storage.

All modifications were cleared by Clallam County Health Department officials, Williams said.

Educational outreach, a primary mission of the marine life center, had to be reassessed when the original stay-home directives were issued in March. Most education programs were moved online and made accessible to school students and teachers.

If and when school resumes in the fall, school field trips will be curtailed; online enrichment is expected to continue, Williams said.

“We’re trying to rethink everything,” she said. “School groups can’t continue the way they always have.”

Feiro guest services specialist Disa Wilson was guiding a family of visitors from Texas on Saturday. She said the previous week’s soft opening for marine life center patrons had been good training for inviting in the general public.

“I think it’s going to work really well as long as everybody goes by the rules,” Wilson said. “It’s really different this year, but I’m sure we’re going to handle it.”

Williams said all the measures implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will present a very different look and feel from the way the Feiro had previously operated.

“The only things that really stayed the same are that the animals need to eat, and the (tanks) need to be cleaned and the water has to keep flowing,” she said. “That’s the only thing that hasn’t changed for us.”

________

Photojournalist Keith Thorpe can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 59050, or at photos@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

Port Angeles School Superintendent Marty Brewer, second from right, speaks with members of the Port Angeles Parents for Education, on Friday about the Port Angeles Paraeducation Association strike. Assistant Superintendent Michele Olsen stands at right. (Paula Hunt/Peninsula Daily News)
District, PAPEA to pick up bargaining Sunday

Parent group presses officials for answers on strike

Instructor Josh Taylor, left, points out the workings of an electric vehicle on Wednesday at the Auto Technology Certification Program at Peninsula College. Nick Schommer, center, and Brian Selk get ready to do some testing on the electric auto’s parts from underneath the vehicle. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
College’s automotive technology program gets a reboot

Students can earn a certificate separate from two-year degree

Port Townsend transportation tax dollars to be put to work

Benefits district to raise $400,000 to $600,000 in first year

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
Retired teacher Nancy McCaleb speaks in support of striking paraeducators in the Port Angeles School District as Port Angeles Paraeducators Association President Rebecca Winters listens during a rally on Thursday at Shane Park.
About 130 rally in support of paras

District officials say funding is statewide problem

Mark Nichols.
Proposed changes to public defender caseloads could hurt rural counties

Annual limits starting in 2025 may create staffing issues

Fernando Cruz of Auburn, an employee of Specialized Pavement Marking in Pacific, cleans off a sign he used to paint a bicycle lane on Sims Way and Kearney Street, the site of the new roundabout. The workers needed at least two days of 47 degrees or above in order to paint the pedestrian crosswalks and other necessary markings. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
New bike lane in Port Townsend

Fernando Cruz of Auburn, an employee of Specialized Pavement Marking in Pacific,… Continue reading

Two-lane bypass to be installed Monday

Contractor crews working for the state Department of Transportation will… Continue reading

Twice daily bridge inspections start next week

Bridge preservation engineers from the state Department of Transportation will… Continue reading

Funding farm-to-school programs

In the 2021-2023 state budget, Washington set aside money specifically for the… Continue reading

Gus Griffin, 11, second from left, and classmates dig up weeds in one of Port Townsend’s three gardens on March 28. (Grace Deng/Washington State Standard)
Farm-to-school programs flourish in Washington

Demand from school districts outpacing state funding

Jefferson enacts 1-year moratorium on STRs

County wants to consider possible regulations for rentals