Port Angeles is a special place. Located on the Olympic Peninsula, it boasts a naturally deep harbor where the Olympic mountains meet the Strait of Juan de Fuca. For thousands of years people have lived in or traveled to this area because of the abundant in natural resources – timber, fresh and saltwater fish, and shellfish and game. Off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula is one of only thirteen marine sanctuaries in the United States, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. This 3,188 square miles of protected area is home to twenty-nine species of marine mammals residing in or migrating through its waters including humpback and gray whales, seals, sea lions, and sea otters. The sanctuary also provides critical nesting habitats for seabirds of all kinds and an important migratory pathway.
Art Feiro believed that people appreciate and take care of what they know and understand. He motivated the community to build the Feiro Marine Life Center in 1981 which informs and inspires visitors, helping them to experience life in the sea through learning programs and live animal exhibits.
For more than twenty years, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and the Feiro Marine Life Center have worked as partners in education, stewardship, and science. Despite this close connection, the partners have operated from separate visitor service facilities, limiting the size and scope of their respective offerings. Feiro, the Sanctuary, and the Foundation knew they would have greater impact if they worked together in a shared facility that would promote and reinforce the partners’ joint pursuits of ocean research, education, and advocacy.
In 2017 the three organizations came together to provide the vision for a new Marine Discovery Center in Port Angeles to tell a comprehensive and cohesive story of marine life, both near-shore and off-shore. This new center will serve as a primary site for ocean education on the Olympic Peninsula and will showcase science and research, facilitate learning experiences, and galvanize the community to participate in marine stewardship.