Public Programs

Free programs for the general public including beach walks, salmon tours, and rotating marine interpretive displays at our home office.

Guided Walking Tours

Get to know the unique plants and animals that inhabit the ecosystems of the Salish Sea through our guided walking tour series.  Led by staff biologists and trained volunteers, participants will learn about cultural significance, natural history, animal biology, ecological function, and human impacts on the environment. Participants will leave with greater awareness and respect for the natural world and tips on how to be a good steward for the Salish Sea.

With multiple habitats to choose from, all of our tours are: 

  • Located at public parks and beaches
  • 1-2 hours in length 
  • Designed for all ages
  • Free (donations accepted)
  • Fun, educational & interactive

Learn more about our tour offerings below and check out calendar for upcoming tour dates. For more information, contact Education Director, Rachel Easton

More About Our Guided Walking Tours

Pier Into the Night

Take an underwater journey of Gig Harbor Bay without getting wet (or needing special certification) through the Pier Into the Night experience.

While you stay warm and dry on the dock, our divers use an underwater video camera to live stream what they encounter below the surface. Staff biologists and trained volunteers identify the plants and animals that appear on the 10-foot screen in real time.

Animals we have encountered at past events include:

  • Feather-duster tube worms
  • Red Irish lorde, sculpin, and gunnels
  • Red rock, kelp, and graceful crabs
  • Stubby squid
  • Giant Pacific Octopus
  • And much more!

This program takes place on public docks in Downtown Gig Harbor on the first Saturday of the month from October-March. We encourage parents to place their children in floatation devices available for free on the dock for safety. Donations are always appreciated; suggested donation of $2 per person, or $5 per family. Bring a chair and dress for the weather, rain or shine!

Check our calendar for upcoming events or contact Education Director, Rachel Easton, for more information. 

Community Science

Community scientists around the world help the scientific community collect meaningful data to learn about and help protect the environment. In 2013, Harbor WildWatch created a community science program to help establish a baseline of biodiversity within the Key Peninsula-Gig Harbor-Islands (KGI) Watershed.

In this program, community members are trained to collect a variety of data on our local beaches, estuaries, and creeks; including:

  • Marine invertebrates and algae
  • Sea Star Wasting
  • Nearshore forage fish
  • Young-of-Year Rockfish (Divers Needed!)
  • Spawning Chum salmon
  • Invasive and non-native plants
  • European Green Crab
  • Water quality

To learn how to become a Community Scientist with Harbor WildWatch, please email our Science Specialist, Stena Troyer. Check our calendar for upcoming opportunities.

Are you a SCUBA Diver? Join our Volunteer Dive Team today!

Contact Stena Troyer to learn how to become a volunteer diver with Harbor WildWatch.

Marine Life Center

NOW OPEN! The Harbor WildWatch Marine Life Center gives residents and visitors a chance to learn about the natural history of the Salish Sea. Located in the heart of downtown Gig Harbor, visitors of all ages are welcome to explore the unique exhibits offered at this historic waterfront location, including:

  • 750 gallons of marine aquaria with local marine life
  • 100-gallon marine touch tank
  • Extensive animal skull display featuring a gray whale skull
  • Interactive Scavenger Hunt for kids
  • Microscopes and much, much more!

The Marine Life Center is appropriate for all ages and can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to explore. So whether you have all afternoon or just a moment to spare, stop by the Marine Life Center to learn more about the Salish Sea!

Private programs available throughout the year for a donation. Questions? Contact Education Director, Rachel Easton.

Marine Life Center Hours

Year Round

Donkey Creek Chum Festival

Every year, the greater Gig Harbor community celebrates the return of salmon to our local waters. The Annual Chum Walk serves to remind us that the quality of our water, and the habitat it supports, connects us all. Booths line the pathway along the estuary and creek, with information and activities for all ages to learn about our local salmon. 

This year’s Chum Walk will take place on:  

Saturday, November 16, 2024

11-2pm starting at Austin Park at txʷaalqəł Estuary and ending at Donkey Creek Park. 

Our goal is to bring people together to promote sustainability, sound environmental stewardship, preservation of our maritime history and culture, responsible recreation, habitat preservation, and shoreline restoration — one salmon at a time. Join us as we recognize new ways to improve and protect our waterways!

We welcome organizations who focus on environmental sustainability, education, and/or conservation to host a booth and activity at this event. If you would like to join us, please download the information packet below and complete the application form. 

If you have any questions, please contact Lindsey Stover