This blog was authored by Janet Lamont, long time volunteer naturalist and new Feiro Board member. You can meet Shirley on Sunday afternoons during her volunteer naturalist shift, or during the 35th Anniversary Event on Wednesday July 13th from 5:00-8:00pm. Free admission, youth costume contest, hands-on activities, and cake all at Feiro during Concerts on the Pier. Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary will be joining us with a special booth! Adults can enjoy Narrows Brewing Giant Pacific Octopus IPA on special tap across the street at H2O Waterfront Bistro. Check out more details here!
35 years and counting….
Returning from University School in Cleveland, where she taught biology, Shirley Anderson returned to Port Angeles to visit her parents. Elenor and Don Anderson were excited about the new Feiro Marine Life Center on City Pier and took Shirley to see it. She recalls that it looked much the same then as it does today. She liked it because it was small and intimate, and especially because the water in the tanks was pumped directly from the harbor – she was seeing what was really out there.
Will and Lillie Wirt were staffing the center that day. When they heard that Elenor was a biology teacher, and that she had also spent more than two years studying nudibranchs in Friday Harbor, they invited her to join them as a Feiro volunteer. From that time on, Shirley came to the Marine Life Center with her mom whenever she was in town, and when Elenor was no longer an active volunteer, Shirley carried on the family tradition.
Shirley remembers that two big ochre stars were residents of Feiro when she began volunteering in 1981, and guesses that they could easily be fifty years old. Some of her other favorite creatures are hermit crabs, baby six-ray stars and sea cucumbers, and “whatever I’m looking at.”
In addition to a Sunday afternoon naturalist shift, Shirley is a member of the cleaning crew, carefully cleaning “her” exhibit every Thursday evening. She is a kayaker and often collects marine invertebrates for the exhibits. One of her favorite experiences at Feiro is helping kids learn, then listening as they share the information with others. Shirley finds there is always something new to learn every time she volunteers, often feeling in awe of the amazing life of marine animals. She hopes that some day we can have a display of sea jellies added to our exhibits. Feiro staff and fellow volunteers count ourselves lucky to know and work with Shirley, and are so grateful for her dedication to helping educate our community and guests about our local marine life!