Our Ecosystems

The Ocean Pavilion will introduce us to the exquisite biodiversity of marine ecosystems from the Coral Triangle in the Indo-Pacific.

The Ocean Pavilion will bring visitors face to face with complex coral reef and mangrove ecosystems that are common in the Coral Triangle—one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. The Coral Triangle is a geographic area in the tropics that includes waters of six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands. Unlike countries, which are delineated by political boundaries, the Coral Triangle is defined by its profound marine biodiversity.

World Ocean
species of coral
tropical fish and invertebrates

The ecosystems within the Ocean Pavilion will be comprised of approximately 3,500 sustainably sourced plants and animals, including up to 30 species of coral. These communities of marine life will show us that every species, from invertebrates to apex predators, has a critical role to play in maintaining the health of our one ocean. And in turn, each of us play a role in understanding and protecting our shared ocean, on which our lives depend.

sea anemone on a coral reef

This campaign will amplify species recovery and ocean conservation efforts from the Salish Sea to the Coral Triangle.

Restoring threatened and endangered species is a crucial part of our ocean conservation mission. Seattle Aquarium conducts world-class research on species loss, population decline, and ocean pollution such as microplastics in the waters of the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

With the Ocean Pavilion, we’ll expand our species recovery program by housing Indo-Pacific leopard sharks whose offspring will be reintroduced to their native waters off the coast of Indonesia. Over time, with this state-of-the-art building and a new, off-site animal care center, we’ll be able to put our regenerative conservation mission into practice on a greater scale than ever before, replenishing healthy marine populations here and around the world.

Endangered pinto abalone help keep our kelp forests healthy. Together with our partners, we’re rearing and releasing abalone to help recover this culturally important species in the Salish Sea.

Dr. Erin Meyer, VP of Conservation Programs and Partnerships, Seattle Aquarium

In 2020, we launched our species recovery program to help restore two endangered species: the pinto abalone (or xwč’iłqs in Lushootseed), an important, at-risk species of mollusk found here in the Northwest, and the Indo-Pacific leopard shark, found in the Coral Triangle.

Recovering a marine mollusk for a resilient Salish Sea

The Seattle Aquarium is at the center of a multi-institution effort to restore the Salish Sea’s pinto abalone (xwč’iłqs in Lushootseed),—an ecologically and culturally significant marine mollusk with a vital role to play in the health of the Salish Sea—to its native habitat near the San Juan Islands. After facing a staggering 97% decline since 1992, the pinto abalone was listed as endangered in 2019. In June 2021, the Seattle Aquarium began caring for the first cohort of young pinto abalone in our nursery. In 2022, we began releasing animals into the wild.

Photo of an adult pinto abalone, photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Launching a global effort to “reshark” the ocean

The Seattle Aquarium helped launch an unprecedented worldwide partnership, ReShark, dedicated to recovering threatened shark and ray populations. ReShark’s first project is to restore Indo-Pacific leopard sharks in the Coral Triangle. This species is threatened with extinction due to overfishing and habitat loss. We’re working with partners to breed these sharks and release their offspring into their protected home waters. The Ocean Pavilion will be home to sharks directly involved in this effort, while bringing visitors face to face with these exceptional animals to inspire empathy and action on their behalf. Read National Geographic’s coverage of this work.

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