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No visit to Newport is complete without a stop at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, overlooking scenic Yaquina Bay just south of the city’s iconic bridge. The Aquarium strives to be a center of excellence for ocean literacy and fun, and it plays an active role in conservation, education and animal rehabilitation efforts. The Aquarium’s world-class indoor and outdoor exhibits have earned the facility consistent recognition as one of the top ten aquariums in the country. This year, the Oregon Coast Aquarium celebrated its 25th Anniversary as one of Oregon’s premier attractions.
The Aquarium kicked off its 25th year with the debut of the exhibit, “Big Bites”, which showcases creatures with incredible feeding adaptions. Visitors are introduced to the dazzling variety of fishes’ jaws and teeth, featuring piranha, barracuda, parrotfish, sheepshead and other toothsome species. A wander through 1.32-million gallons of seawater in Passages of the Deep immerses visitors into the world of local marine life – including over 100 sharks. The series of tunnels feature 360 degree views of three different kinds of landscapes an underwater explorer might find off the Oregon Coast.
For fans of fuzz, the Aquarium’s sea otters’ and their playful antics provide endless entertainment. Keep an eye out for pups Nuka and Oswald, the most recent additions to this all-male raft of rescued otters from California and Alaska coasts. Guests can view their training progress during three daily public feedings.
Meet the Aquarium’s seals and sea lions through the submerged and above water viewing windows that let visitors peer into their world. Daily feeding presentations are a favorite of guests who delight in viewing the California sea lions’ athleticism at work. Particularly fun to watch are the Aquarium’s youngest sea lions, Catalina and Rosa, who were both rescued in California. For an unforgettable behind the scenes experience, book a whiskery kiss delivered by one of the Aquarium’s seals or sea lions!
The Aquarium boasts the largest walk-through outdoor seabird aviary in the United States. Tufted and horned puffins, common murres, rhinoceros auklets, pigeon guillemots and black oystercatchers all call the craggy cliffs and clear water home. Daily feedings at 2:30 p.m. delight visitors of all ages as each bird larks about to eat the fishes of their choice. You can also catch our talented rescue brown pelican, JoJo, during daily presentations at 11:30 a.m.
Two turkey vultures and an opossum also call the Aquarium home. Guests are often surprised by the size of the brother and sister pair, Ichabod and Olive, who busy themselves with toys and other enrichment items. Flower, our Virginia opossum, was a recent and welcome addition to the Aquarium family after a car accident left her with one eye. Flower will occasionally meet visitors in the lobby while nibbling on a snack of fruits and veggies.
A nearby underwater cave is inhabited by a Giant Pacific Octopus. Viewers sometimes need to stretch their powers of observation to spot the creature, which can camouflage with its environment and squeeze its soft body into dark crags. Researchers now believe that octopuses are as smart as house cats, capable of navigating mazes, using simple tools and recognizing individuals. Guests may schedule an octopus encounter to feed and shake suckers with one of these intelligent, seemingly alien animals.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium opened its doors in 1992 to inspire the public to better understand, cherish and conserve marine and coastal ecosystems. Built on an abandoned industrial site, the Aquarium did a lot of work to transform the grounds into an expansive naturescape for guests to explore. The north end of the property is dedicated to a nature trail that skirts an estuary – a unique feature for an aquarium. This wild exhibit features over one hundred native plant species, many of them labeled to continue the Aquarium’s education program for guests.
The Aquarium is open daily in the summertime (beginning May 28), 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. To check for discounts, purchase tickets and learn more, visit www.aquarium.org. Oregon Coast Aquarium is located at 2820 SE Ferry Slip Road, Newport. For more information, call (541) 867-3474.
To check for discounts, purchase tickets and learn more, visit www.aquarium.org.
Oregon Coast Aquarium is located at 2820 SE Ferry Slip Road, Newport. For more information, call (541) 867-3474.