Oregon Coast--Newport's Aquarium has much to offer

By Joe Hilbers

Our fascination with aquariums has enjoyed a long run from Monte Carlo to Monterey and Long Beach but our recent visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport on Oregon's, exciting Central Coast presented us with a truly interesting day.

For here we met Lea who with grace and dignity planted a delicate kiss on this Writer who is looking more like the ancient mariner every day.

Lea is a 17 year old sea lion who has been trained by Ken Lytwyn to kiss devoted admirers such as this Writer. A picture of this exciting event had to be made for the record.

But Lea was just the frosting on the cake, so to speak, for our visit to this aquarium which attracts almost 400,000 people each year. And with good reason. The Passages of the Deep was a new adventure for us. Here is a 1.32 million gallon exhibit featuring three large ocean habitats connected by a 200 foot underwater tunnel. Visitors pass through an acrylic walkway suspended eight feet below the water's surface. In all some 3,500 marine species can be seen here with views that give one the feeling of walking beneath the sea. Another new exhibit is "In Search of Giant Squid: which explores these amazing, mysterious creatures that roam all of the world's oceans.

One of the big pluses for this Oregon complex is its size. It includes 32 acres giving it ample space for its Seabird Aviary and other outdoor exhibits. This includes two large pools to harbor all the seabirds found along the Oregon coast including black oystercatchers, native to the region. Here one can view the birds from an underwater viewpoint.

Newest exhibit is "Claws, It's a Crustacean Invasion". On display are the creepy, crawly crabs, shrimp and lobsters. This exhibit has proved to be great entertainment for children and in fact there is a dance floor that keeps kids dancing as they learn the "crab dance".

This year is the 15th anniversary of the Oregon Aquarium and its success is such that it has been rated as on of the ten top aquariums in the U.S. Many special events and activities take place each summer including a Music Festival, a Parade and Car Show. It is also possible for organized groups to spend the night at the Aquarium.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is open every day of the year except Christmas. It is located at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Road in Newport. In summer the hours are from 9 a. m. to 6 p.m. and after Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission prices are most reasonable and there is ample parking. For more information call 541 867-3474 or www.aquarium.org.

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Last Update:11/15/07

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