Join us for Fossil Fest!

Saturday, February 8

What's happening at the Visitor Center?

Our hands-on exhibits inspire visitors to learn about marine research happening right here at HMSC and beyond. Scroll down to read about our many seasonal and permanent exhibits.

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 Tank

Take the challenge and build something able to withstand the energy of a tsunami wave.

How? First, build a house with Legos. Next, put the house in the wave tank. There a computer will create a tsunami wave and you watch to see if your design can withstand a tsunami.


Erosion Tank

Reach into the erosion tank and build a beach with your hands. Then design a riprap barrier, sea wall, jetty or other structure to help protect the beach from erosion. Finally, make waves in the tank and discover if your structures and ideas held up.

Science for Sustainable Fisheries

Learn about the fish caught off Oregon's coast, the gear used to catch them, and the science behind managing for sustainability. This exhibit features detailed scale models of boats that set out from Newport in search of salmon, albacore tuna and shrimp. This video on marine debris found in and removed from the Puget Sound is part of this display.

Augmented Reality Sandbox

Visitors of all ages are welcome to play in the sandbox. 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.

Our Eight-Armed Greeter

Since 1965, an octopus has been greeting the public at the Visitor Center. The octopus resides in the first large tank just as you enter our exhibit area. If the tank lid is open and you notice a crowd, that means it's feeding time, always a popular event for our visitors (and the octopus, too!). You can see our octopus anytime on the OctoCam. When we are without an octopus, you can see other interesting marine life in the large tank.