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To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially among our more vulnerable staff, volunteers and visitors, the Visitor Center will be closed until further notice. Please refer to this website for updates.
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.
Even though we are not currently open to visitors, the aquarists are keeping busy caring for the animals in the Visitor Center. One animal that is always a highlight for visitors is the giant Pacific octopus. We currently have a very energetic resident octopus on exhibit who requires plenty of attention.
Pictured left, assistant aquarist Morgan Meeuwsen feeds the octopus and provides it with playtime. Octopuses are extremely intelligent and inquisitive creatures who need social time to stay healthy and happy. If you're curious about these eight-armed wonders, check out this Frequently Asked Questions page.
We currently have a lively, social female giant Pacific octopus in our tank. Our previous resident octopus was released back into the wild near Yaquina Bay. Watch this video of its release.
Even though we are homebound we can still keep learning.
Motivated STEM-loving educators around the country are sharing their know-how and resources. To make it easy to access this material, our sister program Oregon Coast STEM Hub has put together a calendar of online events and resources the whole family can enjoy.
We have a variety of sea stars on exhibit at the Visitor Center, like this leather star. These intertidal species are smooth to the touch and have a distinctive odor similar to garlic. They prefer lower intertidal zones and are not usually exposed during low tide.
Ochre stars, which range in color from orange to purple, are the most common type of sea star along our coast. In general, sea stars exhibit a form of radial symmetry. This means that each arm section of the body mirrors the other sections. A sea star's mouth is located on the bottom or oral side.
Sea stars move using tube feet that run all along the underside of each arm. They have a series of tubes that make up a water vascular system. To move, they extend their tube feet using hydraulic pressure from this system.
Our tidepool touch tanks reflect the marine environment along Oregon's coast. They include leather stars, ochre stars and bat stars which can be found throughout the Pacific coast from Alaska to Mexico.
There are tidepool areas all along our coast that you can explore. This video from Oregon Parks and Recreation Department features an interpretive ranger explaining what a tidepool is and what causes tides. There are also videos on tidepool etiquette and the types of creatures found in tidepools on our coast.