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SEASIDE AQUARIUM

FEED THE SEALS





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Harbor’s Index

Seal Splashing Water

Some interesting facts about the Seaside Aquarium:

  • Pounds of herring used per year: 18, 980
  • Pounds of seal food sold per year: 19,000
  • Number of seals: 14
  • Years of operation: 70
  • Number of full-time staff: 6
  • Number of suction cups on a typical Giant Pacific Octopus: 1,920
  • Different kinds of rockfish on display: 12
  • Water storage tanks: 2
  • Capacity of each holding tank (gallons): 80,000
  • Gallons of ocean water used per day to aerate the tanks: 25,000
  • Hours per week spent siphoning tanks: 20
  • Number of stranded marine mammals dealt with in 2006 for the Marine Mammal Stranding Network: 67
  • Number of necropsies in 2006 on stranded marine mammals: 17
  • Number of different species in the aquarium: 80
  • Feet per minute a twenty-ray starfish can move: 6
  • Number of wetsuits in the back of the aquarium: 7
  • Number of display tanks in the aquarium: 40
  • What’s that Pipe on the Beach?

    Intake Pipe Seen from the Prom, it could be mistaken for a clam-digger, or maybe a sea serpent rearing its head from under the long stretch of sandy beach. It has stood there as long as people can remember, but very few know exactly what it is. That bent-over pipe that sticks out of the beach near the Turnaround in Seaside is actually the water-intake pipe for the Seaside Aquarium. You could literally say this is the aquarium’s lifeline.

    Many aquariums pump water from outside to fill and aerate their tanks but most are situated on bays where water intake pipes are covered through high and low tides. Those aquariums have to worry about salinity changes in the bay system as the ocean and the river struggle for control with the tides rising and lowering and the rains coming in the winter months. The Seaside Aquarium is one of the only aquariums anywhere that has a water-intake pipe located directly in the surf.

    Cleaning Intake Pipe There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to this situation. The Seaside Aquarium never has to worry about salinity changes because the ocean’s salinity changes so little. The fish in the aquarium experience the same temperature changes that they would if they were in the wild. The pipe is exposed at low tide, so if something goes wrong, or if sand erodes away so much that the pipe is more exposed, staff can easily get to it to make adjustments. However, the aquarium relies entirely on the tides in this situation. If a series of weak high tides coincides with mild surf, the aquarium has a greatly reduced length of time to pump water. The pipe is also a huge target for logs or other large items carried by the surf.

    On any typical day at the aquarium, staff discuss the subtle art of determining how long to pump water from the surf before the pipe becomes exposed. If the pipe fills with any air, the pump "loses the prime," effectively losing its suction ability. On the next high tide, staff must scramble to re-initiate the suction, another process more art than science. Although the aquarium’s circulation system is good enough that it reuses a substantial amount of its water daily, without this single connection to the ocean, the Seaside Aquarium could not exist.



    Ask the Aquarists will be a regular feature in our newsletters. If you have a question about how things work
    in back, submit it to and we might publish your question (and your name) in our next newsletter.



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Seaside Aquarium, 200 North Prom, Seaside, Oregon 97138 Tel: (503) 738-6211.