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 shape the future of conservation by amplifying species recovery and ocean conservation efforts from the Salish Sea to the Coral Triangle.

Saving species from extinction 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.

The Ocean Pavilion will significantly expand our species recovery program by safely and humanely housing tropical marine life whose offspring will be reintroduced to their native waters in the Indo-Pacific. 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

In 2020, we launched our species recovery program to help save 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 zebra shark native to the Coral Triangle.

Restoring a marine mollusk to restore 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 and will begin releasing animals into the wild in 2022.

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

Launching a global effort to save the Indo-Pacific leopard shark

The Seattle Aquarium is helping to launch an unprecedented worldwide partnership to restore the Indo-Pacific leopard shark to the waters of the Coral Triangle, an important marine biodiversity hot spot that will be the focus of the Ocean Pavilion’s tropical habitats. The leopard shark is threatened with extinction by overfishing and habitat loss. Our recovery program will raise and release mature sharks back into their native ecosystem. This direct action, combined with bringing visitors face to face with leopard sharks, will help combat population decline and inspire empathy and action to restore this extraordinary species before it’s too late.

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We thank and honor the hundreds of donors and partners who have already made a critical investment in this vision. Fill out the form to learn more about supporting our mission.

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