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Oregon coast aquarium

Author: Jon Smith
by Jon Smith
Posted: Jul 26, 2019

In Newport, Oregon, a family-friendly thing to do is visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium, located at 2820 Southeast Ferry Slip Road. Locals and tourists enjoy visits to the Aquarium drawing families together around the wonders of the sea.

Oregon Coast Aquarium is not just for the kids. There is plenty for adults to explore too. Spending a day at the Oregon Coast Aquarium is sure to make lasting memories and become a highlight of your next family vacation when vacationing in Newport, Oregon.


When visiting the Oregon Coast Aquarium, you may navigate underwater glass tunnels in search of sharks, feed the sea lions, or explore an array of sea life with the many different sea animals and ecosystems to discover.

Throughout the week, the aquarium offers opportunities to get behind-the-scenes for a closeup look at how the animals live. To experience an in-depth look, book a behind the scenes tour.

In addition to the tours and exhibits for adults and older children, there is plenty for small children to enjoy. Littles will find the underwater exploration areas, complete with play boat and fishing activities, a great way to get hands-on play.


The assortment of exhibits keep both kids and adults entertained. At Oregon Coast Aquarium, you will experience a wide variety of sea creatures such as see otters, sharks, turkey vultures, and sea lions, just to name a few.


Sandy Shores exhibit recreates the awe-inspiring feeling of standing on the seashore. This exhibit mimics the feeling of toes in the sand, soaking in the vast ocean with mesmerizing waves. From this vantage point, visitors experience the awe and mystery of the ocean and ecosystems where land meets water.

In this ecosystem, surf zone animals bury themselves, to escape the drying sun, shorebirds and marine predators. The animals of Sandy Shores are so tiny they may almost escape observation, but even the smallest still play a vital role in nature’s constant cycle of life. One of the highlights of Sandy Shores is a freestanding pier exhibit. A 4,730-gallon tank replicates the unique habitat formed by docks and piers where anemones, mussels and Dungeness Crabs scuttle along the ocean floor. Nearby, a separate exhibit replicates the ebb and flow of the Pacific surf against a tide pool filled with anemones, sculpins and oysters.


Rocky Shores exhibit challenges us is to keep an eye out for hard shelled marine animals with defensive camouflage abilities such as sea stars, gumboot chitons and anemones. The centerpiece of Rocky Shores is a touch-pool. Staffed by volunteers, this exhibit lets all visitors gently interact with tide pool residents. Other galleries highlight tide pools, cut-away's raked by waves, and a deep pool in which a visitor-operated video camera has been mounted for close-up investigation. Rocky Shores holds a total of 15 exhibits, including habitats for the fearsome looking but gentleWolf Eel brightly colored rockfish, and a wide range of sea stars, limpets and other invertebrates.


Coastal Waters includes 16 exhibits spotlighting coho, chinook salmon and sturgeon, including their life cycles, challenges and journey from streams to the ocean and back, along with other animals. Extending into the Aquarium’s courtyard, the 35,000-gallon exhibit includes a wall-to-wall viewing window to see impressive basalt boulders and habitat of the Yaquina Bay jetties, where salmon pass during migrations.

Coastal Waters features a moon jelly exhibit and considered one of the most popular animals at the Aquarium. A second jelly exhibit in this gallery features sea nettles in a 5,000-gallon kelp forest harboring offshore fishes and invertebrates in a large coastal reef exhibit.


When visiting the Sea Otters habitat, visitors will be looking at the largest population of sea otters in the state of Oregon. This species was hunted to extinction in the Oregon wild over a century ago, with the last known individual killed just off the Newport Beach in 1907.

Sea otters were widely targeted by trappers throughout the United States and Canada. Their unique pelts, which contain up to a million follicles per square inch, provide such good insulation that the otter does not require a layer of blubber to retain body heat as you would find in whales, sea lions and seals. Within decades, otter’s survival was seriously imperiled along the entire Pacific coast. This decline in sea otters throughout Oregon resulted in far-reaching environmental impacts. As otters control the population of sea urchins, which in turn feed on the giant kelp forests offshore, otters maintain ecological balance. As a result, the sea urchin population has managed to destroy many of the underwater forests and the habitat they provided for innumerable species.

Although trapping or poaching of sea otters is now illegal in the United States, various other factors impact species survival such as habitat destruction such as competition for food, pollution and natural predation which has challenged the species return. Today, sea otter conservation and recovery efforts, particularly in California and Alaska, are underway.

To catch the sea otters frolicking in their pools or to enjoy public feedings, plan to visit during at one of the feeding scheduled times, occurring every day at 10:30 am, 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm.


The Seals and Sea Lion exhibit is also a great way to enjoy interaction with sea life as sea lions particularly enjoy interactions with human beings, often swimming right up to the acrylic barriers for a closer look.

Considered the two largest marine mammals at the aquarium, they share a sprawling exhibit containing up to 90,000 gallons of sea water at the depth of fifteen feet deep in some areas, allowing the animals to dive, twist, twirl and leap as they would in the wild. To get a close up look, there are multiple view stations for visitors. TURKEY VULTURES

The Turkey Vulture exhibit may be a surprise to many Aquarium visitors. Considered an important component to nature’s eternal cycle of renewal, with turkey vulture’s Latin name meaning "purifier, " they have an important impact on sea life. According to Oregon Coast Aquarium, the turkey vulture is an intelligent and curious bird that need to be provided a variety of toys and other "enrichment" items to keep their brains active. Many of these enrichment items help imitate what the vultures would normally do in the wild, including digging into objects (like pumpkins) and pulling materials apart.

The pair of turkey vultures calling Oregon Coast Aquarium home, are named Ichabod and Olive. The pair of sibling vultures, came to the Oregon Coast Aquarium after being taken from their nest into a human home as hatchlings. Since, the birds were turned over to wildlife rehabilitation specialists receive the care they needed. As a result, the birds imprinted on human beings early and unable to be released back into the wild. Local wild turkey vultures have also taken an interest in Ichabod and Olive, sometimes flying low over the aquarium or perching on the pylons surrounding their enclosure.


Orford Reef is a cluster of submerged haystack rock formations, where only the tops are visible above water. Beneath the waves, areas between these rocks form a deep reef of narrow crevasses and swaying forests of bull kelp which can reach lengths up to 100 feet. Many sea creatures can be found in Oxford Reef such as spiny dogfish shark, leopard shark, rockfish, bat ray, big skate, broadnose sevengill shark and more.


The the Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini), or GPO for short, is the largest ever caught weighing in at nearly 600 pounds (272 kg). Octopus can be found all along the western coast of North America, from Alaska to southern California.

When visiting the Giant Pacific Octopus habitat at the Aquarium, be patient and look carefully. The shy animal will often hide herself in the dark nooks and crannies of the exhibit and you may have to work to find her.


The open-air, walk-through aviary at the Oregon Coast Aquarium allows visitors the rare opportunity to see some of these species up close. The aviary is one of the largest of its kind in North America.

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Author: Jon Smith

Jon Smith

Member since: Jul 23, 2019
Published articles: 1

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