One of my favorite places to visit and spend some time is Newport, Oregon, on the North Central Coast. It’s a 90 minute ride along the beautiful coast road from Umpqua River Haven. There are so many fun and interesting things to see and do in this coastal town that I’m not going to try and put them all in one posting. We’ll visit one or a grouping of a few at a time.
Starting just south of Newport before crossing the bridge and making a right turn is the Hatfield Marine Science Center. This is a hands-on research center for Oregon State University and also involves many state departments and agencies. Its history goes back to the 1900’s when there was a small, one-building fisheries laboratory. It has grown into the 40 acre collaborative campus that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Named for Senator Mark O. Hatfield, HMSC is involved through OSU with marine biology student education as well as research. But my favorite thing about this unique place is how much they do with children. How geared the center is to meeting the ways in which children learn. The first thing you’ll encounter when you walk inside is the octopus tank with children and adults gathered around watching as she is being fed. If you miss feeding time, stop and watch anyway. It is a challenge to keep her in the tank as she is often trying to get out. This one was named Ursula but is no longer in residence having been returned to the sea.
There are cylindrical tanks full of schools of fish swimming in synchronized balletic unison. There are icky things in small window tanks that often delight children. A unique feature is the touching pool that contains all manner of small marine life.
Children love to be able to touch things and even pick them up and turn them over to discover what is there. Adults, too, become fascinated with being able to do this. You can touch sea anemones and watch as they fold in and then open up again.
Another photo of sea anemones because I thought they were so pretty.
This is a truly fun place to visit and you can probably tell that I like it a lot. Don’t miss Hatfield Marine Science Center on your next visit to the Oregon Coast. Bring the kids and visit us, too: www.umpquahaven.com We’d love to see you!
Ariel shot of HMSC