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The Seattle Marine Aquarium (originally known as the Seattle Public Aquarium) was a privately owned aquarium that was opened in 1962 and closed in 1977, and was located on Pier 56 on the Elliott Bay waterfront in Seattle, Washington, USA.

Seattle Marine Aquarium
Date openedJune 22, 1962
Date closed1977
LocationPier 56, Seattle, Washington, USA
Coordinates47°36′15″N 122°20′23″W / 47.6041774°N 122.3397052°W / 47.6041774; -122.3397052Coordinates: 47°36′15″N 122°20′23″W / 47.6041774°N 122.3397052°W / 47.6041774; -122.3397052
Land area6,000 square feet[1]
Volume of largest tank20,000 gallons[1]
Major exhibitsorcas, six gill sharks, octopus



The aquarium was created in 1962 and was initially owned and operated by Ted Griffin. At the time he hoped that his aquarium would be a "prelude" to a Marineland. The aquarium was a 6,000 square foot building. The staff consisted of skin-divers and volunteers. The curator was Eric Friese[1]

In 1965, the aquarium was contacted by Canadian fishermen who had accidentally trapped an orca. Ted Griffin thus acquired his first orca for $8,000, and named him Namu for the area where he was captured.[2] Namu only survived a year in Griffin's hands.


Under founder Ted Griffin, the aquarium was home to many orca whales captured in the wild.[3][4] The orcas' names were: Namu,[5] Shamu,[5][6] Katy, Kandu, and three unnamed orcas for a total 7 orcas over the years.


Ted Griffin paid $8,000 for Namu, who was captured in 1965. At the time, Namu was the world's only captive killer whale.[1] He was 22 feet in length and weighed about four tons. Namu performed demonstrations for aquarium attendees.[1]


In 1964 the aquarium began to feature sixgill sharks. The sharks were taken from the Puget Sound at 500 feet deep, and were hooked with a long line. The line was tied to a buoy and dressed with ham, raw beef, and lingcod. After the sharks were captured, they lost their appetite and motivation. Griffin entered the tank in a wetsuit to force-feed the sharks mackerel and to push them around. The sharks did not last long, but the presence of the sharks significantly increased aquarium attendance.[1]

Homer the OctopusEdit

Homer was the aquarium's 88 pound octopus. At the time it was a record for captured octopuses. The octopus was captured in the Puget Sound.[1]


As people have protested against facilities like SeaWorld and the Miami Seaquarium, there were protests at the aquarium.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Pier 56 Aquarium in the 1960s - Very Big Sharks and NAMU". Retrieved 2014-04-04.
  2. ^ Broom, Jack (4 September 1998). "Namu Was First Killer Whale Put On Public Display -- It Called Seattle Marine Aquarium Home Until Its Death In 1966 Shocked The City". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  3. ^ Lyke, M.L. (2006-10-11), "Granny's Struggle: A black and white gold rush is on", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, retrieved 2010-01-29
  4. ^ Gordon, Lyndsay (2009-03-10), "Orca captives: the Penn Cove Round Up", Sound News, retrieved 2010-01-29
  5. ^ a b Price, Erika Parker (2008-01-16), "Since first orca capture, views have changed", Seattle Times, retrieved 2010-01-29
  6. ^ "Lolita's Capture", Orca Network, retrieved 2010-01-29