The Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC) has purchased the historic Flagship Landing building on Water Street to serve as its headquarters. The facility will house its exhibits, gift shop, labs, and offices. “By bringing new life to this 132-year-old building, we dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of the project,” said Executive Director Janine Boire.
Fort Worden State Park became home to the marine science center in 1982, when an aquarium was installed in the wooden building on the Battery Way pier. In 2001, the aquarium was renovated and a museum was opened onshore, across from the pier. Among other exhibits, the articulated skeleton of Hope, an orca that was stranded near Dungeness Spit in 2002, is suspended from the museum ceiling.
Today, in addition to operating the museum and aquarium, the PTMSC sponsors educational programs for the public, such as low tide walks and classes for students. The organization also hosts community science programs like the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Sound Toxins, and the Protection Island Aquatic Reserve wildlife survey. But while PTMSC’s mission has been expanding, the aquarium’s pier was assessed by Washington State Parks to be near the end of its useful life.
Boire said the move to Flagship Landing will take place in phases, with the aquarium and museum at Fort Worden continuing to serve visitors over the next few years. In the long term, the organization plans to maintain a presence at Fort Worden by converting the current museum building into an environmental learning center field station.
Recently, State of the Salish Sea, the most comprehensive research report in 25 years on the condition of our local waters, was published by Western Washington University. “Unfortunately, it confirms that the degradation of the local marine environment is outpacing recovery efforts,” Boire said. “Stressors on species, including iconic salmon and southern resident orcas, will accelerate until we take more decisive, collective actions to improve the health of our marine environment.” She added that the mission of PTMSC has never been more critical.