Seacoast Science Center announces new intertidal-themed exhibit

Seacoast Science Center’s new The Edge of the Sea exhibition features a high-powered, museum-grade Microeye Interactive microscope that gives visitors a close-up view of intertidal plants and animals. Here, you can see a sea star’s tube feet in great detail.

RYE — Seacoast Science Center has announced its new intertidal-themed exhibit, The Edge of the Sea. The interactive experience is anchored by three thoroughly unique touch tanks totaling over 500 gallons of cold saltwater and teeming with intertidal animals and seaweeds. Visitors can get their hands wet in the simulated tide pools, touch and learn about the animals that live here, and enjoy a beautiful and immersive window to the dynamic zone between the tides. SSC naturalists and volunteers are stationed at the exhibit to guide hands-on learning and spark  conversations that we hope deepen appreciation of our coastal environment and inspire conservation of our Blue Planet.

In addition to many new animals, including unique and hard to find species like nudibranchs, sea cucumbers and brittle stars, naturalists now have more real estate to offer hands-on exploration, and new powerful teaching tools to better engage and connect. A high-powered microscope sits right over a wet table, simulating a marine laboratory workspace. Visitors may select animals or organisms to investigate and the scope projects stunning magnified views of our underwater creatures onto a giant screen, providing viewing access to all, and allowing guests to safely distance while learning together. Naturalists conduct live programs at the exhibit, using large viewing screens to showcase live animals, microscopy, and other natural history details that supplement the program. This is a fun and multi-sensory experience for all ages and levels. 

A series of photographs by undersea journalist Andrew Martinez illustrate the unique and often strange adaptations of intertidal animals.

Building one’s confidence around these somewhat strange and otherworldly creatures can take some time and conversation, and this exhibit was designed to create a comfortable and safe space for both the visitor and the animals. Getting your hands wet and salty is only one part of the experience. This dynamic and biodiverse zone of the ocean is shaped and tempered each day by the tide. Here in the Gulf of Maine, we experience some of the most dramatic daily tidal changes in the world, between 9-11 feet. With two high tides and two low tides each day, life on the rocky shore is always changing. The hardy organisms that live here have developed behaviors and structures that enable them to survive in stressful conditions. These adaptations can be observed in the organism’s shape or form (shells, spines, air bladders, tube feet) and behaviors (hiding, feeding, defense mechanisms).