Welcome to the Visitor Center

The Oregon Sea Grant-operated Visitor Center is the public education wing of the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Over 150,000 people pass through the doors of the Visitor Center annually to see the exhibits, join in hands-on activities and learn about marine animals and issues facing the coast. Take a video tour of the Center.

Meet the VC's Eight-Legged Greeter

A giant pacific octopus is the first thing you’ll notice when you step into the Visitor Center. You can watch her glide around the tank, play with toys, and even change colors depending on her mood.

The octopus is especially interactive with aquarists during her regular feedings at 1 pm on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. If you can’t make it, tune in via our octocam.

Our current octopus was donated to us by a local fisherman. We are not sure how old she is because an octopus' size depends on how much it eats. She is very active and is adjusting well to her new environment. 

Octopus Donations Welcome

We like to keep a backup octopus for when the tank's occupant needs a break or is ready to be released back into the ocean. We gladly accept live octopus donations from the fishing community, recreational fishers, tide poolers, and beachcombers who have a state-issued shellfish license.

Contact our aquarist if you have an octopus to donate.

What is this creature?

This peculiar, lacey beauty is a basket sea star.

It is found in the deep ocean, about 10-1,850 meters (or 33-6,115 ft.) below the ocean’s surface.

It is named for the long appendages that form a basket-like cage. The sea star uses this cage to trap its prey - plankton.

Basket stars are related to brittle stars but are quite large in comparison and can weigh up to 11 pounds! Basket stars breed by broadcasting their eggs and sperm when they spawn.

You can find our new resident basket star in the temperate reef tank where it is living with other filter feeders. While the basket star adjusts to its new environment, some of the lights in the temperate reef tank will remain off.

Other Tank Happenings
  • Three big skate eggs are rescued by a local beachcomber and our aquarists are able to hatch them. Watch a video of their first swim.
     
  • Babysitting angelfish. When one of the newly hatched fry starts to swim away, a parent sucks them up into their mouth, then spits them back out to be with the group. Fascinating!

Tidepool Touch Tanks

Roll up your sleeves and touch marine animals in our tidepool tanks! Gently pet fish, abalone and sea stars. Discover what happens when you stroke the sticky tentacles of a sea anemone. Friendly volunteers are on hand to answer questions and help you explore.

Tsunami Wave Challenge

How do tsunamis affect structures on the coast? Take the Tsunami Wave Tank Engineering Challenge! See if you can build something that will withstand the energy of a tsunami wave.

More Exhibits

Augmented Reality Sandbox

Visitors of all ages are welcome to play in this sandbox. At this exhibit, you move the sand in the sandbox and watch how the contour lines, projected on the sand, change. These contour lines, just like the ones on maps, mark different elevations.

Upcoming Events

Hours

Labor Day to Memorial Day
10 AM - 4 PM Thursday - Monday

Memorial Day to Labor Day
10 AM - 5 PM Daily

Closed: Thanksgiving Day, December 25 and January 1

Location

Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitor Center
2030 SE Marine Science Drive
Newport, OR  97365-5229

Phone: 541-867-0100; Option 2
Email