First operated by the City of Seattle's Department of Parks and Recreation when it opened in 1977, the Seattle Aquarium is now owned by the nonprofit Seattle Aquarium Society, and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The animals are grouped into six main exhibits: Window on Washington Waters, Life on the Edge, Pacific Coral Reef, Birds and Shores, the Underwater Dome, and Marine Mammals. In addition, the aquarium offers events, educational programs, and conservation programs, as well as housing a research and conservation center.
The Seattle Aquarium offers many daily shows and activities, including a Diver Show in the Window on Washington Waters exhibit, Be an Ocean Detective at the Pacific Coral Reef Exhibit, Story Time at the Family Activity Center, Meet Our Marine Mammals talks and feedings, Meet Our Octopus feedings, Be a Sea Otter Detective at the Marine Mammal exhibit, Solutions for Ocean Change at the Family Activity Center, and Wonder Cart Discovery interactive activities in the Pacific Coral Reef Exhibit. With its own team of scientists, conservation researchers, and divers, the Seattle Aquarium offers events and programs including Sea Otter Awareness Weekend, an annual Puget Sound Octopus Census, and Discover Science Weekend, where current projects and research are presented through interactive experiments and presentations. The aquarium hosts private events, field trips, toddler time, marine summer camps for K-10th grades, college and university programs, and homeschool and community school programs, and also offers a Beach Naturalists and Cedar River Salmon Journey programs for citizens who want to learn about and protect the local shoreline and river ecosystems.
The Seattle Aquarium's conservation team works to protect Puget Sound's ecosystem and research problems the plants and animals face, including threatened animals such as sunflower sea stars, ratfish, giant Pacific octopuses, coral, sea turtles (it is the only turtle rehabilitation facility in the state of Washington), and more. The facility also won two 2014 Green Awards for sustainability efforts including the building's energy-efficient remodel and community leadership in sustainability through its Community Solar program in partnership with City Light.