(Page 1 continued) Two tanks were built into the new sub-floor. The pool’s fountain was converted into the base of
a large hexagonal tank in the center of the room. Tanks with rock walls, designed to look like the ocean floor, lined
the inner walls of the old pool.
The Seaside Aquarium opened on Memorial Day Weekend, 1937. First noteworthy displays included a tank filled
with a wide variety of flower-like anemones, a large tide pool display in one of the floor tanks, and an octopus in
the center hex tank. A seal was added to the displays in 1938. The second seal did not come to the aquarium until
1942. In 1952 the Seaside Aquarium became the first aquarium to successfully breed harbor seals raised in captivity.
For many years, the Aquarium shared the building with other tenants. In 1938, twelve apartments were installed on
the second floor. One and two room apartments included Murphy beds and amazing views; some included bathtubs
with separate faucets for either fresh or salt water. The apartments closed in the early 1970’s and the second story
windows were shingled-over. Although the windows were reinstated during building renovations in 2004 and 2006,
aquarium residents now are limited to marine life on the first floor. The Aquarium maintains creatures native
to Pacific Northwest waters and all of the seals at the Aquarium were
born in captivity. They range in age from Drexler, 28, the longest-lived
male in the Aquarium’s history, to Frankie, born last summer.
Dedication and Longevity
In seventy-five years, the Seaside Aquarium has only had a handful of
owners and managers, all putting their hearts into the venture to ensure
the Aquarium’s success. This has provided an incredible through-line over
time. The descendents of the first owner/managers George and Greta
Smith (both the third and fourth generation) are still involved, having
worked at the aquarium and sitting on the Aquarium’s board. The current
General Manager has been with the Aquarium since 1978 (managing since
A Growing Focus...
When the aquarium was founded in 1937, the primary goal was entertainment.
The dark interior was meant to create the feeling of swimming through
an ocean cave at a time when respiration-aided diving was virtually unknown.
In the past several years, the focus has shifted to include education and
community involvement as well as entertainment. We have reached beyond
the walls of the actual building to participate in local events and projects
geared toward a better understanding and appreciation of the North Coast
In 1995, we became leaders in the regional Marine Mammal Stranding
Network. In the next few years we added an Interpretive Center and helped
start Seaside’s Estuary Beach Discovery Program. We have partnered
with local businesses, non-profit organizations, and the City of Seaside to
inform both visitors and local communities about beach safety, tides,
different coastal habitats, and the animals who live there.