Skip to content

Seaside Stories

Behind the Scenes at the Seaside Aquarium With Tiffany Boothe

August 24, 2023 | by Tina Lassen

SEASIDE SPOTLIGHT: Our latest profile in a series focused on the behind-the-scenes movers who make Seaside the unique destination it is today. Previously.

 

The Seaside Aquarium has been a fixture on the Prom for as long as anyone can remember; it dates back to 1937, one of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast. It remains one of Seaside’s most popular attractions, giving visitors an up-close look at the marine life that lives in and around the nearby waves. The aquarium’s assistant manager, Tiffany Boothe, serves as an ambassador to the creatures of the sea.

“People are here on vacation — we want them to have fun,” says Boothe. “We also hope to shift their perspectives on how they view the beach.”

The aquarium’s role has evolved over the years from entertainment to education and awareness, with displays and programs that help visitors learn about and care for the coastal environment. “It’s a living ecosystem — a home for lots of plants and animals,” she says. “If we learn how to be respectful when we recreate, we can play a part in keeping our marine environment healthy.”  

Boothe, who grew up in Alaska in a family of commercial fishers, joined the aquarium in 2001 while still in high school. She stayed on as she pursued a degree in marine biology, able to continue her learning on the job. “That’s one reason I love it here,” Boothe explains. “I get to do a bit of everything.” 

Tiffany Boothe

 

A Mission of Education and Outreach

 
Interpretation is Boothe’s favorite role. Her efforts are apparent on the displays throughout the aquarium and the Discovery Cards that guests can take with them. If you’ve ever wondered why crab shells litter the beach or if fish get thirsty, the Seaside Aquarium has your answer. 

Its Beach Discovery Program is another engaging way to educate. Held Sundays in July and August, the free program welcomes passersby to stop by the beachfront tent to examine creatures in a touch tank, peer at plankton and aquatic plants under a microscope, and discuss different minerals in the sand. 

Out of the public eye, the aquarium’s staff is always busy helping marine life. Their efforts include regional rescue efforts like transporting injured wildlife to the Wildlife Center of the North Coast in Astoria. The aquarium plays an important role in the Southern Washington/Northern Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network, providing on-site assistance, animal transport and public education regarding marine mammals on the beach.   

 

Touch Tanks

 

Seeing What’s Undersea

 
Thirty-five glass tanks line the aquarium walls, housing rockfish and wolf eels, all kinds of sea stars, crustaceans and more. A giant Pacific octopus in a central tank waves its twisty arms at visitors; touch tanks let the curious interact with anemones, urchins and other tide pool creatures. 

Nearly all the animals housed in the aquarium are native to the Oregon Coast. Many are raised on-site. In a back room full of tanks, Boothe points out baby skates hatched from casings that washed up on the beach, and tiny week-old pipefish (relatives of seahorses) that will soon rejoin their parents in the tanks up front.  

Undoubtedly, the aquarium’s most famous residents are its 10 harbor seals, stealing the show with their balletic swimming skills and disarming cuteness. They, too, were born here. The Seaside Aquarium was one of the first aquariums to successfully breed harbor seals, and some of those delighting visitors today are sixth-generation residents. 

 

Protecting Wildlife on the Beach

 
While the aquarium-reared seals wouldn’t be able to survive in open waters, Boothe and her team are active in protecting their wild cousins along the Coast. Much of their work with the stranding network, she says, is preemptive — teaching people to stay at least 100 yards from an animal that appears stranded on the beach. (Ditto for their dogs.) 

Often, seals and sea lions that appear to be in distress may actually be out to rest, molt or give birth, explains Boothe. Mothers also leave their pups alone on the beach while they hunt. Approaching, touching or attempting to move them will do more harm than good. When in doubt — or if the animal in question is a whale, porpoise or the threatened Guadalupe fur seal — Boothe recommends you call the aquarium or the West Coast Regional Stranding Hotline immediately. 

“People are well meaning — they want to help,” she adds. “The good news is education works.” 

and so much more!

Top Things to Do With Young Kids

Seaside has long been a favorite family retreat, but it’s an especially good choice for families with young children. Why? Becau...

Learn More
Episode Two: the Lewis & Clark Salt Works

Join us on an audio walking tour of the Lewis & Clark Salt Works in Seaside, Oregon.

Learn More
Snail Mail: the Agony & the Ecstasy

Snail mail in Seaside circa 1909.

Learn More
Buffleheads: Oregon Coast’s Silliest Part-Time Residents

Buffleheads in Seaside, Oregon rivers in winter.

Learn More
Camping in Seaside

Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner. One of my very favorite things to do during Memorial Day weekend is to go camping. I love setting up the tents, snuggling in a warm sleeping bag, sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows for s’mores, and smelling like a campfire all weekend. I love every bit of it! If you’ve never camped by the Pacific Ocean then you are missing out! You get to add the salty air, sandy beach, and all the benefits of being near Seaside to add to your camping experience.

Learn More
Beach Reads for a Vicarious Escape

Chances are, you have more time to read right now than you have had in the past decade. And we all know, a good book can transport...

Learn More
Discover the Beach Less Traveled in North Seaside

If your idea of the perfect beach getaway includes stretches of empty sand, hunting for sand dollars to the sounds of waves crashi...

Learn More
Bell Buoy Stays in the Family

SEASIDE SPOTLIGHT: Our first profile in a series focused on the behind-the-scenes movers who make Seaside the unique destination i...

Learn More
Roaming the Sand for Treasures

The beach is often filled with unique finds, especially after a storm.

Learn More
Extended Stays
Warm Drinks and Cool Winter Excursions

If you think winter is the best time to visit Seaside, you’re not alone. The beaches are empty, huge waves crash against the sho...

Learn More
Seaside Promenade

I walked along the Prom last weekend on a beautifully bright and sunny day and found myself surrounded by walkers, runners, people on all sorts of wheels, strollers, couples holding hands, and dogs of all sizes leading their people around. I also heard all sorts of accents and languages-and saw plenty of cameras.

Learn More
Times of Change…

Seasons of change in nature and life.

Learn More
The Best Part of Waking Up

Delicious breakfast dining at favorite Seaside local hot spots.

Learn More
An early morning kayak ride

One kayaker's take on an early morning ride into the Necanicum Estuary.

Learn More
Postcards from the Past

Ancient postcards from Seaside's distant past

Learn More
Smoothies, Boba, Floats and Other Specialty Drinks

It’s hot out and you’ve worked up a thirst. Sometimes that plain old water isn’t going to satisfy. Luckily, it’s easy to f...

Learn More
Riding the Streetcar in Seaside

Riding the streetcar in Seaside is a fun and affordable way to see the town.

Learn More
Seaside Inside: The Historical Edition

Above photo: A group plays the historic arcade game, Fascination at Funland Arcade in downtown Seaside, Oregon. Seaside is a popul...

Learn More