Alaska SeaLife Center Announces Addition of Rocky Coast Discovery Pool
March 4, 2021

The Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) is excited to announce the Rocky Coast Discovery Pool, a new exhibit opening Spring 2021. The team at ASLC began developing this new exhibit in 2017. Installing the new modern and interactive design required a complete demolition of the former touch pool, originally built in 1998.
The design for the new 1,100 gallon exhibit, equipped with six pools and three small feature tanks, was inspired by various Association of Zoos and Aquariums facilities in the United States. ASLC staff members visited twenty touch pools from coast to coast to learn about latest designs, program opportunities, and staffing efficiencies. “We wanted to make sure empathy was at the center of everything when it came to this new exhibit. From the design for staff and visitors, to accessibility and access, animal welfare and care, to best practices for exploring in the wild,” explains Senior Education Manager, Jeff Dillon.
Many team members contributed to ensuring the success of the visitor experience for the new space. Ricky Deel, the Center’s Lead Exhibit Designer, has played an especially critical role in merging everyone’s visions from visitors to researchers to staff members. “I've approached the exhibit by looking at the visitor experience as well as the needs and wishes of the staff that will work behind the new pools. I wanted to keep a natural flow in the shapes and patterns and keep a neutral earthy tone in the colors to allow guests to focus on what is in the touch pools and not so much as on what is around them,” describes Deel.
Orchestrating the transport of exhibit materials and maneuvering all the elements within the building has been a challenge, like figuring out how to get an eight foot diameter pool to the second floor of the Center. “Creativity has been a key characteristic of this endeavor, including using the Alaska Marine Highway to transport flooring from Juneau to Whittier, and a dynamic partnership between four organizations to design, fabricate, inspect, package, and ship six tanks from California through the notorious Inside Passage, known for rough winter seas and storms,” states Operations Director, Caryn Fosnaugh . The tanks for the touch pool will be shipped to Alaska on March 17, which has the team at ASLC preparing for a spring exhibit unveiling.
Funding for the development of the touch pool has been several years in the making. Early funds were secured from an anonymous foundation that allowed the team to hire an engineering firm to create the technical specifications and plans in 2017. Further financial support for the construction of this exhibit was secured in 2019 from these generous contributors: ConocoPhillips Alaska, First National Bank Alaska, Matson, Petro Marine Services, Shoreside Petroleum, and the Lindsey Family with Matson additionally donating a significant portion of tank transportation. The ASLC team is grateful to all the contributors of this exhibit build, both local and regional, whose support has made this enhanced visitor experience possible.
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