Seaside Aquarium

Seaside, Oregon | C.1937

Photo Credit: @mollymerly

“On the beach since 1937” is the opening line on The Seaside Aquarium’s history section of their website. But the building itself opened 13 years earlier, in 1924, as a saltwater bath and swimming pool complex named Seaside Baths Natatorium. Today, this privately-owned aquarium in Seaside, Oregon is one of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast and in the United States.

In order for the original Natatorium to fill with saltwater, water pumped from the Pacific Ocean through a pipe still visible today at the tide line, before being heated and deposited into the baths. A decade later, the Great Depression ended the economic feasibility of the operation and the building later served as a salmon rearing facility before becoming a venue for local and regional wrestling matches.

Then in 1937, the Aquarium was founded, still using the same saltwater pumping pipe that was installed in the 1920s to fill the aquarium tanks. In 1938, apartments were added upstairs called the “Sea Water Apartments.” Some of the residences are still there today but no longer maintain tenants.

The aquarium has been home to some interestingly acquired animals along the way, including a 25-pound lobster that was rescued from a boiling pot, as well as “tsunami fish” that drifted across the Pacific Ocean on a boat and washed onto the shores of Washington as a result of the Tohoku earthquake in 2011.

The Aquarium is open year round at 9AM and is one of the few aquariums, if not the only aquarium in Oregon, where visitors get to feed the seals. For a small fee, they can buy trays of cut up fish, walk up to the platform, and toss the fish into the seal tank.

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