Aquarium Panel Marks Milestone for Point Defiance Exhibit

A 35-foot long clear acrylic panel will give visitors at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium an exciting view of marine life inside the new Baja Bay exhibit.

The 35,000-square-foot aquarium is due to open next summer and has been in the works for more than a year as part of the $51.6 million Pacific Seas Aquarium project, a replacement for the 54-year-old North Pacific Aquarium.

The panel was installed Wednesday, and was a major operation of choreographed ballet to carefully hoist and install the window in the Baja Bay exhibit, and was a milestone toward completing the aquarium.

“We have eagerly watched as footings went in, walls were formed, and concrete was poured,” said the zoo’s deputy director John Houck. “We’ve noted progress with each passing day, but the installation of this piece was truly an occasion to stop, watch, and celebrate. We can’t wait until next summer when we begin expanding on the many conservation stories of our seas, from cold waters of Alaska down to the warm waters of the Baja Peninsula.”

Hammerhead sharks, green sea turtles, and eagle rays are all newcomers to the zoo, and will swim in the 250,000-gallon centerpiece of the new building. Visitors will be able to watch them swim overhead, separated by the 6-inch-thick window.

The existing South Pacific Aquarium, which is home to 16 large sharks of five different species, as well as smaller sharks, stingrays, and other fish, will remain open.

This project is the largest capital project in Metro Parks Tacoma history, and is being funded largely from the $198 million bond issue approved by voters in 2014.


is an assistant editor at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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