Mission

Empowering conservation for a thriving Salish Sea

The Salish Sea is a phenomenal place — one of the world’s largest and most biologically rich inland seas. It is an enormous watershed of habitats, species, processes and relationships.

At the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center welcomes people to discover and delight in the incredible biodiversity of the Salish Sea. Since 1982 we have introduced hundreds of thousands of people to the wonders of the Salish Sea through our exhibits and programs at Fort Worden State Park and, since 2022, at the Flagship Landing building in downtown Port Townsend. Why? Because these waters are amazing—beautiful, dynamic, and brimming with life—and because humans and oceans are interconnected. Our survival depends on healthy seas and oceans worldwide.

We believe humans have a responsibility to be better stewards of our marine environment. And we know this is possible.

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center fulfills its mission of “empowering conservation for a thriving Salish Sea” through engaging exhibits, hands-on educational programs, and vital citizen science projects.

Over 20,000 people every year are inspired by live marine animals in the Aquarium, an orca skeleton in the Museum, and rotating exhibits in the Gallery downtown.

Thousands more participate in school programs, summer camps, low-tide walks, a lecture series, wildlife cruises, and sustainability workshops.

Over 100 volunteers participate in a variety of roles, including important citizen science projects.

Stories of our mission in action

Our history

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center was founded in 1982 by two teachers, Judy D’Amore and Libby Palmer, and was initially run entirely by volunteers. Over the years the science center has grown in a steady, thoughtful manner, and its volunteers, now numbering more than 100, are still integrally involved in the organization.

As it has grown, PTMSC has remained a friendly and accessible place for both visitors and community members alike, always staying true to its mission of empowering conservation for a thriving Salish Sea.

Community roots

From its founding through immense volunteer effort, to its ongoing reputation as a treasured community resource, PTMSC is known for its welcoming nature. When people move to the area, one of the first nonprofits they learn about is PTMSC. Visitors find it among the top five things to do in numerous guides. Locals and tourists alike appreciate the deep sense of place that runs through all of the exhibits and programs.

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