Explore the shore with Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists

Seattle Aquarium’s beach naturalists lead explorations during low tides.


A group of crabs is called a cast, and they communicate by waving their pincers or beating their claws.

A group of local citizens who care about Puget Sound beaches are called Beach Naturalists, and they’ll communicate with you about the wonders of the Pacific Northwest’s marine life if you visit one of our specified beaches this summer.

Every year during low tides, Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists lead exploration events on regional beaches. The Naturalists teach visitors about how to enjoy beaches while preserving important ecosystems and protecting resident marine life.

The Beach Naturalist events launched May 19 at Richmond Beach, Carkeek Park, Golden Gardens Park, South Alki Beach and Lincoln Park. Events will take place throughout the summer at various locations through Aug. 2.

For a detailed schedule, visit the Beach Naturalist program’s website.

Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists on hand to answer your questions!

A family explores marine life in West Seattle during a Beach Naturalist event.


Seattle residents don’t have to travel far to reach a beach. We are lucky to have access to a number of public shorelines. And with water bordering our city on two sides, one might think Seattleites are experts on marine plants and animals.

Why don’t crabs share their toys?

Because they’re shellfish!

What do you call a fish with no eyes?

A fsh!

Turns out, many of us aren’t. Fear not.The Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists will be stationed on local beaches throughout the summer during low tides beginning Tuesday, May 27. Beach Naturalists are local citizen volunteers who are passionate about the Puget Sound beaches and want to help protect them by educating visitors about the creatures who live there.

People can visit a beach during the designated times and ask the Beach Naturalists questions and learn about the environment.

Beach Naturalist training session at Lincoln Park.


“People are surprised by how many things are living on beaches,” said Janice Mathisen, Seattle Aquarium Community Outreach Coordinator. “People love to show us what they find, and it gives us the opportunity to tell them about the needs of that particular specie.”

The Beach Naturalist program began 16 years ago, and this year, more than 230 volunteers are participating. The volunteers are trained and are instructed to model proper beach etiquette.

“Some volunteers have doctorates in biology, some are veterinarians, some are marine biologists and some have no science background; they’re just really interested in our shores,” Mathisen said. “I love that. The program is accessible to whoever wants to participate.”

The Beach Naturalists will be available at Richmond Beach, Carkeerk Park, Golden Gardens, Constellation Park/South Alki, Lincoln Park, Saltwater State Park, Olympic Sculpture Park pocket beach, Seahurst Park, Des Moines Beach Park, Redondo Beach and Blake Island. For a full list of times and dates, click HERE.

“It’s kind of like the perfect formula,” Mathisen said. “Learning and a day at the beach. How could you go wrong?”


Beach Naturalists’ tips and words of wisdom: – Walk carefully! There’s life beneath your feet! Eelgrass beds are especially fragile. – Touch animals gently with one wet finger. – Observe animals where you find them rather than picking them up. – Avoid disturbing animal homes by picking them up or rolling around large rocks on the beach! – Most Seattle beaches are Marine Reserves; this means everything on the beach must stay on the beach. (except litter!)