Monday, December 28, 2020

Resolutions for a Healthier Salish Sea

Here at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center we're getting ready for the new year by sharing our resolutions. Year-round, we commit to making the Salish Sea a healthier and happier place for all to experience. Whether you are a curious human or a hungry octopus, the Salish Sea should be ready for you to enjoy! Do you have a New Year’s resolution for the Salish Sea? Share it with us by emailing it to Meghan Slocombe, the Citizen Science Educator AmeriCorps member, at Read on for a glimpse at what our staff are doing this year…

Reduce, reuse (and reuse again), recycle

The order of those words are important and our staff are not losing sight of that. First, we are finding ways to reduce the resources we use. Then we are reusing the items we do have. And finally, when we’ve exhausted all reuses of an item, we are recycling them! Sure it’s a process, but who doesn’t enjoy getting creative and finding new uses for that stained t-shirt (turned cropped tank turned rag)?! Our staff are committing to buying less, buying more sustainably, and using things until they can be used no more.

To find more ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle check out these resources:

Here are some ways our team is planning to reduce, reuse, and recycle: 

Molly Shea, Museum Educator AmeriCorps member, is going to use less plastic by making her own soaps, cleaners, and makeup
Molly Shea, Museum Educator AmeriCorps member, is going to use less plastic
by making her own soaps, cleaners, and makeup. 
Betsy Carlson, Citizen Science Coordinator, plans to use less plastic this year. 
Diane Quinn, Program Director, is going to use less water every day. 
Carolyn Woods, Education Coordinator, plans to find  more reusable items. 
Erin Merklein, PTMSC Intern, is going to upcycle more. 
Brian Kay, Marketing and Development Coordinator, is going to skip fast fashion this year. 
Deb Diner, Administrative Specialist, is going to buy an electric car. 
Dorit Nowicki-Liss, Aquarium Educator AmeriCorps member,
is going to go zero waste and offset her carbon. 

Eat more sustainable (and tasty) food!

At PTMSC we know that our environment is more connected than ever. That means that even what we eat impacts the Salish Sea. Many of our staff have decided to begin a culinary adventure this year by committing to eat more local food and less meat. 

Interested in starting your own journey towards becoming the Top Chef of sustainable and local food? Check out these websites:

Eat Local First, a map of Washington state’s local farms, shops, and markets 

New York Times, 51 quick and easy vegetarian recipes

Happy Cow, this website helps you find local restaurants with vegan and vegetarian options. Sure this doesn’t require you to cook, but who doesn’t love supporting local restaurants?

Gabriele Sanchez, Volunteer and Programs Coordinator, is going to join a Community Supported Agriculture program.
Liesl Slabaugh, Marketing and Development Director, is going to eat less meat. 
Holly Weinstein, Volunteer Program Educator AmeriCorps member, is going to eat more vegan and vegetarian meals. 

Let’s talk wildlife!

PTMSC staff never stop thinking about our wildlife. (We’ve got some pretty cute reminders in our aquarium. *cough* Juvenile pinto abalone. *cough* Tiny the giant Pacific octopus. *cough* ALL the fish.) So some of us decided that we’d spend the year caring and learning for the wildlife of the Salish Sea.

If you’re also looking to get a bit more wild...or at least connect with more wildlife, check out these sites:

iNaturalist, a website where you can log your own animal, plant, and fungi observations and explore what others have seen nearby.

An Encyclopedia of Salish Sea and Puget Sound species, this site is maintained by the University of Washington and the Puget Sound Institute and contains all sorts of information on the critters of the Salish Sea.

PTMSC’s YouTube, missing all your PTMSC aquarium buddies? Swing through our YouTube page and find videos of some of our fan favorites.

Meghan-Grace Slocombe, Citizen Science Educator AmeriCorps member, is going to learn to identify more animals and plants of the Salish Sea.
Phil Dinsmore, Facilities Coordinator, is going to help keep our aquarium critters happy. 

We hope our New Year’s resolutions have inspired you to think about taking action to help conserve the Salish Sea this upcoming year. From all of the staff and critters at PTMSC, we wish you a happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

FUTURE OF OCEANS Lecture Series: "What Eelgrass and Other Marine Vegetation Can Tell Us about the Future of the Ocean"

Dr. Ronald Thom
Staff Scientist Emeritus
Marine Sciences Lab,
Pacific Northwest National Lab
Sunday, January 10
3 pm

via ZOOM

Lecture is FREE


Our lecture series, The Future of Oceans, draws on the commitment of professional researchers and educators across all academic spectrums to help define and inspire the health of our oceans.

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center continues the lecture series by welcoming Dr. Ronald Thom, Staff Scientist Emeritus of the Marine Sciences Lab, Pacific Northwest National Lab.

Using eelgrass as an indicator, the presentation will evaluate the theme of net ecosystem improvement (NEI) in the face of historical, present and future threats such as climate change on the ocean ecosystem. The presentation will cover topics including conservation, restoration, resilience and an evidence-based analysis of cumulative effects of multiple actions on ecosystem condition.  

Dr. Thom has conducted applied monitoring and research in coastal and estuarine ecosystems since 1971. His research includes coastal ecosystem restoration; adaptive management of restored systems; benthic primary production; ecosystem monitoring; climate change and adaptation; carbon storage in restored coastal systems, and ecology of fisheries resources. Ron has led, or shared leadership of, approximately 200 multidisciplinary projects. He has worked on ecological systems in California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Nebraska, and Alabama. Ron was invited to China and South Korea several times to collaborate with scientists there on estuarine restoration. He served on the National Academy of Sciences committee on monitoring the recovery of the Gulf coast following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He has published ~100 peer reviewed papers including five invited book chapters, and hundreds of technical reports and conference abstracts. He is Staff Scientist Emeritus at the Marine Sciences Lab, Pacific Northwest National Lab, Sequim, WA. Ron is immediate past president of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, served as a Governor’s appointee to the Northwest Straits Commission for six years, and presently is the Senior Science Advisor to the Puget Sound Partnership. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Giant Named Tiny: Rearing a Giant Pacific Octopus

This blog post adapted from a presentation by Ali Redman, Aquarium Curator.

It all started out with the “Light Trap.” So I must begin this story with how we came to have a light trap and why. 

This past spring we joined the Pacific Northwest Crab Research Group, which is a diverse collaboration of crab researchers and managers who monitor larval recruitment of Dungeness crab using light traps with the goal of producing a sustainable Dungeness crab fishery. 

diagram of Light Trap used 
to count Dungeness crab larvae

The light trap is composed of a float attached to a 5-gallon water bottle with a light inside. Zooplankton enter through funnels, attracted by a light inside the water bottle. 
This past spring and summer, PTMSC staff and interns regularly counted the number of Dungeness crab larvae that were in the trap and reported that to the research group. Not surprisingly, lots of other kinds of zooplankton were also found in the trap. See the chart below for an idea of the diversity of “bycatch.”

Sample of diverse bycatch from the light trap

Even on the very first day, we found pelagic (floating in the water column) paralarval octopuses, both red Pacific octopuses and giant Pacific octopuses (GPOs). Raising octopuses from a paralarval stage in captivity is notoriously hard to do, and has only been done twice successfully. Keeping a pelagic paralarval octopus alive requires a kreisel or “jellyfish tank.” So we were not planning on collecting any octopuses from the light trap.

However, on June 10, we noticed an octopus zooplankton that was different. This female GPO was benthic, which means that she attached to things and crawled. We thought perhaps we could raise her without a specialized tank. We named her Tiny, because, well, she was tiny!

octopus as a pararval zooplankton!


During phase 1 of raising Tiny, we used a “muck tub,” a piece of aquarium equipment used for larval fish rearing. It had fine mesh covering the drain and a lowered water level to keep her from climbing out. And because octopuses are so intelligent, we kept the tub stocked with a variety of decorations to stimulate her natural curiosity. Tiny ate a diet of wild caught plankton (zoea and other tiny crustaceans), and enriched brine shrimp.

Tiny the octopus started out in this muck tub!
When Tiny got big enough, we began weighing her weekly. We were very excited to see steady and vigorous growth. Her average growth rate was 2% of her body weight each day! 

Finally, when she was big enough (but still tiny, of course) she was moved to a tank in the aquarium exhibit. Astroturf around the rim and a weighted lid is now required to deter Tiny from wandering.

Here are a few fun facts about octopuses.

GPO vs red Pacific:

2 rows of dots on tentacles=red Pacific

1 row of dots on tentacles=GPO

Sexing Octopuses

Male octopuses have a hectocotylus, on the tip of the third right tentacle.

Tiny doesn’t have a hectocotylus, therefore Tiny is female.

Check out this video titled "Tiny over Time" which documents Tiny's growth during her stay with us here at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center:

Donate to our GivingTuesday campaign TODAY!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

FUTURE OF OCEANS Lecture Series: "Immersions in the World of Kelp"

Betsy Peabody
Puget Sound Restoration Fund
Sunday, December 13
3 pm

via ZOOM

Lecture is FREE


Our lecture series, The Future of Oceans, draws on the commitment of professional researchers and educators across all academic spectrums to help define and inspire the health of our oceans.

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center continues the lecture series by welcoming Betsy Peabody of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund.

Puget Sound Restoration Fund has been steeped in kelp work for the last decade.  This presentation will delve into the results of the Hood Head seaweed investigation, R&D underway to restore bull kelp forests, a newly launched underwater kelp ecological survey program, and an upcoming 2021 kelp expedition.
Betsy Peabody is founder and executive director of Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF), a nonprofit organization founded in 1997 to restore marine habitat, water quality and native species in Puget Sound.  She is also President of the Pacific Shellfish Institute.  In 2012, Betsy served on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, and continues to be actively involved in efforts to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification.  In 2013, she collaborated with NOAA to establish a conservation hatchery at NOAA’s Manchester Research Station dedicated to restoring native shellfish and other living marine resources.  Betsy has a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University – and a strong appreciation for the role that marine resources play in our human story.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Creating Community Through Science

Hello everyone! Meghan Slocombe here, the new Community/Citizen Science Educator. 

I have been blown away by the science community we have built at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. In my first month, I have worked with our volunteers to find safe ways for them to continue collecting and processing water samples for our SoundToxins program. I’ve seen vets and community members assess stranded marine mammals, and joined individuals in the aquarium to monitor the growth rates of our pinto abalone. Yet, as winter closes in on us and COVID-19 continues to make it difficult to meet in person, I know many are having trouble finding ways to continue to connect with our science community.

Well lucky for you, I’ve found some great online opportunities for contributing to science. (These online programs have clear instructions on how to help, so don’t worry if you do not have experience with the program beforehand.) Now just because you’re conducting science online, does not mean you’re in it alone! We want to hear from you about what projects you’re contributing to.

Zooniverse is an online citizen science platform with projects in all sorts of topics!

Tell us about the fish you’ve recently identified in the waters off of the Hawaiian islands through the OceanEYEs project.

Or send us pictures of the invertebrates you’ve catalogued for the California Academy of Sciences Invertebrate Zoology Collections.

Better yet, report back on the history of Daytona Beach’s fisheries operations after identifying fish from old photographs.

Fish aren’t your cup of tea? How about you help identify plankton off the California coast. Who knows, it might give you something to talk to our SoundToxins volunteers about!

For those still looking to brave the winter weather, check out the King Tides from November to January. Visit a site before and after the highest tides of the year. Just make sure to be careful!

The point is, while winter may limit our ability to meet in person we are still a community. (And a strong one at that!) My hope is that we can continue to make our community stronger and larger by contributing to the science of other communities. If you want to share with PTMSC your experience with community science or some pictures of your most recent beach walk or winter paddle, email Meghan Slocombe (Community/Citizen Science Educator) at

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

FUTURE OF OCEANS Lecture Series--In Deeper Waters: Exploring Earth's Largest, Yet Least Understood, Biome

In Deeper Waters:
Exploring Earth's Largest, Yet Least Understood, Biome

Sunday, November 8
Dr. Christopher Kelley 

3 PM
Virtual ZOOM Meeting

Our lecture series, The Future of Oceans, draws on the commitment of professional researchers and educators across all academic spectrums to help define and inspire the health of our oceans.

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center welcomes Dr. Christopher Kelley in this first lecture to kick off this year's dynamic lecture series. 

Earth is a water world with the sea covering 70% of its surface. Even though the depths below SCUBA represent the largest biome on the planet, the "deep sea" is also the least understood because its environment is hostile to us terrestrials and our technology. However, accessing this huge unknown territory and discovering what is going on down there is crucial to the understanding of our planet as a whole. Dr. Kelly has led a variety of projects using sonar mapping, manned submersibles, and ROVs throughout the Pacific ranging in depth from 200 m to 6000 m. He will share with you not only the "why and how" of deep sea research but some of his more interesting experiences and findings while working in deeper waters.

Lecture is FREE

In addition to the lecture on Nov. 8, the PTMSC is offering a new, in-depth interaction with lecturers in The Future of Oceans series: Deep Dive Conversations. On Nov. 9 from 6:30 --7:30 p.m., the PTMSC will host a limited attendance, science cafe-style Deep Dive Conversation with Kelley on Zoom. The moderated virtual discussion, which costs $5 per person, will focus on how remotely operated vehicles are providing new insights into the deep-sea ocean environment.
To RSVP for this limited engagement, please click the link above.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Water World Online

Join us for the first ever session of Water World Online! Centrum and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center are teaming up to take our full-immersion science and arts program online, and into your home, with four days of engaging online classroom sessions and hands-on learning and creation. Through the lenses of science and art, students will explore the marine environments of the Puget Sound and Salish Sea, as well as the aquatic ecosystems around their own home. This program is limited to students in Washington state. 

For more information and to register, visit Centrum's website: 


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

PTMSC Trivia Night


Tuesday September 15
6:30 PM

We had a blast with our Virtual Trivia Night last month so we thought we’d do it again! This time, it’ll be focused on ocean pollution in honor of our beach cleanup this month! 

Missing your weekly trivia night? 
Look no further because PTMSC is hosting Virtual Trivia Night on Zoom! 
Come show off your marine science skills and maybe even win a prize! 

Prizes include: 

  • Name a fish in the aquarium 
  • Name a krill that will be fed to an animal in the aquarium  
  • Name an crab in the aquarium  

Click here to RSVP, and we will send the Zoom link with extra instructions!

We can't wait to see you all there!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

International Coastal Cleanup

Join the movement to Fight Ocean Trash

with the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, WA CoastSavers and Ocean Conservancy on Saturday, Sept. 19.

Saturday September 19

In partnership with the Ocean Conservancy. Volunteers from around the world will work together to keep our oceans and the life in them as healthy and diverse as possible. Volunteer to be part of the Port Townsend Marine Science Center’s and ICC's Beach Clean-up. 

Pre-register at

Check in: 9:30 am
PTMSC Museum Entrance, under the portico. 
Get directions and beach locations, trash bags, and gloves and head out to the beach.

Return to PTMSC: by 1:30 pm - Weigh your accomplishments. 

Ocean trash is a serious pollution problem that affects the health of people, wildlife, and local economies. Make an impact locally in the Salish Sea by joining the world's largest volunteer effort for our oceans and waterways with the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup Day.

It’s easy to participate! Here’s what you need to know:

• Stay for all or part of the event
• Bring gloves and extra buckets
• Wear closed-toed shoes
• Read the clean up FAQ page.
• Wear ocean-friendly sunscreen
• Dress for the weather
• Bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated on the beach

Be COVID Safe: If you plan on joining us for the ICC, please follow all COVID-safety guidelines set by Washington State. Please wear a mask, stay six feet apart from others, and wash your hands or bring hand sanitizer with you.


Pre-register at

More information at WA CoastSavers website:
Or email PTMSC at

Thanks to Olympic Disposal and Port Townsend Food Co-Op for their support.



Monday, August 10, 2020

PTMSC Trivia Night


Tuesday August 11
6:30 PM

Missing your weekly trivia night? 
Look no further because PTMSC is hosting Virtual Trivia Night on Zoom! 
Come show off your marine science skills and maybe even win a prize! 

Prizes include: 

  • Name a fish in the aquarium 
  • Name a krill that will be fed to an animal in the aquarium  
  • Name an crab in the aquarium  

Click here to RSVP, and we will send the Zoom link with extra instructions!

We can't wait to see you all there!

Friday, July 17, 2020

One Day At The Sea - online event for kids

online; hosted by Port Townsend Public Library

Thursday, July 23

2 - 3PM

Marine Science Center Presents: One Day at the Sea! Get ready to meet some of the wacky and intriguing critters of our nearshore environment, then help tell their story! (Imagination required, accuracy not necessary.)

As part of the PT Library's Summer Reading Program, this one hour program led by Ellie Kravets, invites kids to contribute to an original story about what happens one day in the Salish Sea. Formatted as a Zoom presentation, this program is sort of like a virtual MadLibs. Kids will get prompting cards to compose their part of the story, then the whole story will be revealed. Ellie will show them real collection items representing some of the creatures in the story, and maybe kids will be able to share something from their own collections.

Ages 6-12

Virtual Low Tide Walk in August!

Join us for a virtual Low Tide Walk event! Instead of our usual public programs, we’re going to be hosting a social-distancing friendly version. You can participate from home via social media during the scheduled event time, or visit a local tide pooling spot near you (while following current social distancing and recreation safety guidelines) for a self-guided experience. 

Tuesday August 18th

9 - 11 am

low tide -1.87 at 10:05am 

Staying home? Tune in to the Stories on our Instagram page @ptmarinescictr during the scheduled program time for broadcasts from local tidepools. Stories are visible from your mobile device or web browser if you’re logged in to Instagram; stories are visible for 24 hours after being posted, and will be saved as Highlights after that. 

Going out? Here’s a list of some local beach access/tide pooling spots - choose one close to you and make sure to follow current social distancing guidelines if you do go out. Have a back-up location in mind in case you arrive to a full or crowded parking lot (even better, walk or bike in). Remember to Leave No Trace! Take only pictures, pack out your trash if receptacles are full or unavailable. Keep in mind that in many places, restrooms are closed.   
State parks are currently open to local day-use only.  
Jefferson county parks and trails are open except: campgrounds, playgrounds, sport courts, and restrooms. 
-Fort Worden State Park (Discover Pass required)
-North Beach County Park (head either direction from parking lot)
-Boat Haven beach (limited parking at Larry Scott trailhead)
-Fort Townsend State Park (Discover Pass required)
-Fort Flagler State Park (Discover Pass required)
-Indian Island County Park (limited parking)
-Point Hudson (limited parking)

Here’s a guide on Tidepool Etiquette so you can observe good manners while you’re in the home of intertidal animals and keep them (and yourself) safe. If you find something interesting while you’re tidepooling, you can share it and tag us if you have any questions (@ptmarinescictr on Instagram). You can also post photos of animals, plants, or unknown living things to iNaturalist for identification from the community.

If you have children in your household, here’s a Tidepooling Scavenger Hunt activity to try while you’re out! 

Tide pooling at Kinzie Beach in Fort Worden State Park

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Join our Plastic Free July Challenge!!

Plastic Free July is a global movement with the goal of helping individuals refuse single use plastics! This movement provides us with the opportunity to look at what we are throwing away and see how we can do better! Join us for weekly challenges throughout the month of July and see what improvements you can make. Let’s be part of the solution, together!

How it works: Starting July 1st, challenges will be posted weekly spanning Wednesday to Wednesday. With each challenge, we will provide extra resources and community inspirations to help build your waste-free future.

We encourage you to get creative and to send us photos! Either tag us on Instagram or Facebook, or email them to us at! We want to see how you are taking on these challenges!! Let’s inspire each other!

Follow along on our Instagram, or our Facebook event Plastic Free July: PTMSC Edition!

Let’s get started!!

Week 1 (July 1st-7th): Let’s take a look…

Alright - let’s see how much plastic you throw away in a week! For this challenge, we want you to collect your weeks’ worth of plastic waste. It’s easy, just pick a corner, set it aside, and watch it grow. Next Tuesday after you have collected your plastics, fill out this google form. Our ‘experts’ at PTMSC will compile this data and analyze what we as a community struggle with in regards to waste. This will also provide a personal baseline for your own waste weaknesses and provide a focus for your lifestyle changes during Week 2!


Pro tip: To avoid smell or mess, you 
can place your plastics in a separate
sealable container.
Collect it: Start by separating all of your plastic waste this week from recyclable materials (i.e. glass/paper) and food scraps. This means things like chip bags, candy wrappers, bottles, food containers and anything else you happen to use. This also includes the plastics you would normally recycle!

Count it: At the end of the week, fill in our google form to categorize what exactly you are throwing away so that you can identify what types of plastic you come across most often.

Capture it: Have a picture of your pile of trash? Snap a #TrashieSelfie of you and your pile of trash. Share it on social media by tagging us @ptmarinescictr and using the hashtag #plasticfreeptmsc2020, or email it us at

Disclaimer: The goal isn’t to have the biggest pile but bonus points for those who get creative.

To continue our Plastic Free July Challange click here!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Home Crew Members Miss Doing Their Chores

Good memories keep them going
Home Crew hard at work in the PTMSC aquarium. Photo by staff.

I know people who get great satisfaction from scrubbing floors, keeping windows spotless, and doing other house-cleaning tasks. I’ve never been one of them.

So imagine my surprise to learn that there are people who eagerly volunteer to do such chores. On early morning shifts, no less. And that they’ve sorely missed accomplishing these tidying tasks during Washington state’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy shutdown.

These dedicated cleaners are the 16 or so members of the Home Crew at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center’s Aquarium. Before the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, a team of seven to nine people would arrive every week at the aquarium doors on Monday and Friday mornings. They worked a two-hour shift each session, performing an average of eight shifts per month for a grand total of about 112 hours of work per month.

The Home Crew cleaners don long-cuffed rubber gloves to protect themselves from the cold of the salt water, which is drawn from Puget Sound with minimal filtering.

“Since all of the water inflow comes directly from below, if the sea is very rough or at super low tides the tanks can get quite silty,” says Janette Mestre, a relative newcomer to the job who joined the Home Crew team in the autumn of 2019. “We scrub interior tank walls of algae, vacuum crud off the bottom and in the water column, and remove build up of algae, kelp debris, creature waste, and silt from the tank floor and rocks.”

Jan North takes a quick break to appreciate her work in home crew. Staff photo.

Dana Africa, who has been on the Home Crew for about five years, said they get to know the inhabitants of the tanks and, as they clean, they also inspect the animals and note any injuries, whether a female is gravid, and other health changes.

“People are generally assigned a tank," Africa says. "It may not be the same tank every week, but people tend to do the same ones.”

Dana Africa, home crew volunteer. Staff photo.
Dealing with leaks, low water levels, overflows, and fouled siphon tubes can be tricky and extra time-consuming.

Much of the crew’s work involves removing layers of algae, which grows especially abundantly in the summer sun, by scrubbing and scraping the interior of acrylic tanks. But acrylic scratches easily, and the scratches can impair the view into the tank.

“Trying to get an old, well-established algae rim formed at the bottom edge of tanks off the acrylic without scratching it” is Africa’s least-favorite job.

On the other hand, she loves siphoning, the technique used to “vacuum” debris out of the sand and gravel in the bottom of the tanks.

"Siphoning is so satisfying! I most miss the mornings I come in to clean and feed the abalone babies," she says. "I’m in a separate space, and as I siphon there is a calming sensation in me. My thoughts run to all sorts of places I don’t usually take time to explore. Abalone are strange little people — I adore their tenacity and fabulous shells.”

The work of the Home Crew is not entirely without stress.

“We have a very popular unusual little fish, the grunt sculpin, and while we now have two, for a long time there was just one, and they’re quite elusive and hard to capture," says Mestre. "After seeing it in the tank [I was siphoning] and then not finding it after finishing, I spent a very nervous weekend thinking I had sucked it up without seeing it. Happily it reappeared from it’s hiding place by Monday!”

But Home Crew work also has its rewards.

“One morning there were eight of us all diligently cleaning when someone said, ‘Look! Eleanora [the giant Pacific octopus that lived in the central tank for much of 2018] is out of her hideout!’" Africa recalls. Within a minute all of us circled her tank as she displayed all of her spectacular moves. She went the full circle so everyone got a show and some eye contact. All chores were forgotten as we, as one, were completely blown away.”

Katherine Jensen (left) & Betty Petrie. Staff photo.
“Getting to constantly learn new things and become more aware of the local marine environment is a pleasure," Mestre says. "And the excitement of the staff for what they’re doing is infectious,” Janette adds. “I miss just being there, seeing the constant changes in tank dynamics, and the camaraderie of the crew.

"I have been really impressed by the quality of the facility and exhibits for a small nonprofit like this," she adds. "They do a huge job with what they have available, and I think it must be quite difficult to maintain everything and keep all the animals healthy with the skeleton crew.”

When pandemic conditions allow it, both volunteers plan to return to their tasks.

“I definitely plan to resume at the MSC. Can’t wait,” Africa says. “I’m ready to get excited about things again.”

Since the pandemic began, all the work usually done by the Home Crew has fallen largely to Aquarium Curator Ali Redman, with backup from AmeriCorps Member Marley Loomis. We’ll check in with them soon.

Written by PTMSC Volunteer Jenna Kinghorn.