OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Popular SeaFest Celebration to Return to Oregon Coast on June 23

06/06/2007

NEWPORT, Ore. – After a one-year hiatus, the popular SeaFest celebration returns to the Oregon coast on Saturday, June 23, at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

The event offers entertaining and educational activities for visitors of all ages, with exhibits, lectures and interactive displays that celebrate the ocean’s bounty and Oregon’s coastal heritage, while seeking to increase public understanding of the marine environment and human impacts.

Among the activities will be a tour of OSU research vessels Elakha and Pacific Storm; a search-and-rescue exercise by the U.S. Coast Guard in Yaquina Bay; behind-the-scene tours of the research facilities at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, and numerous displays, lectures and hands-on activities.

SeaFest kicks off with two evening lectures on Friday, June 22, and continues on Saturday with a full day of activities beginning at 10 a.m. All events are free and open to the public.

“SeaFest is a great opportunity for people to spend a day or two at the Oregon coast and gain access to one of the premier research and education facilities related to marine science in the United States,” said George Boehlert, director of OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. “Beyond the always popular touch tanks and exhibits in the visitor’s center, SeaFest visitors will get a peak at how some of our top scientists carry out their research.”

Behind-the-scenes tours will include a look at the facility’s unique seawater distribution system that allows the center to conduct research and maintain a diverse population of ocean fishes, crabs, sea stars and other invertebrates, including the giant Pacific octopus. Visitors can also tour the “nursery” for one of Oregon’s premier oyster breeding and stocking programs, a marine organism quarantine hospital with holding tanks for animals, and other laboratories.

Kipp Shearman, an OSU oceanographer, and his colleagues will show one of the undersea gliders used in ongoing research off the Oregon coast. The gliders can be programmed to run for three weeks at a time, collecting various oceanic measurements, and surfacing to “phone” the results to HMSC and OSU laboratories via satellite.

Guided walks along the estuary trail will offer visitors the chance to see and learn about the diversity of wildlife found in Yaquina Bay. SeaFest visitors also may board the “Oregon Rocket,” a 27-foot inflatable craft operated by Marine Discovery Tours for a free ride across the bay to Newport’s historic bayfront.

Saturday’s lectures in the main auditorium will address the topic of climate change, beginning with a presentation at 11 a.m. by Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, “Oregon’s Response to Global Climate Change Projections.”

Other Saturday lectures include “The Changing Rhythms of Oregon’s Coast Ocean,” by OSU oceanographer Jack Barth, beginning at 1 p.m.; “Climate Change and Ocean Conditions in Oregon’s Coastal Waters,” by NOAA fisheries specialist Bill Peterson at 1:30 p.m.; and “Impacts on Oregon’s Ocean Ecosystems and Salmon,” by OSU oceanographer Michael Harte at 2 p.m. A panel discussion on climate change will follow at 2:30 p.m.

Other activities at SeaFest include:

  • Displays by the OSU Sustainability Program on efforts by the university and the Hatfield Marine Science Center to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the state meet its renewable energy goals;
  • Dozens of crafts, games and other programs designed for kids, including a “Passport to the Ocean” activity that gives children a passport to be stamped at different exhibits. Kids earning at least 11 stamps will win a prize;
  • Awards for the SeaFest poster contest winners and a special award presented by Bradbury to Lincoln and Benton County high school students who represented Oregon at the National Student Oceans Summit in Washington, D.C.

SeaFest actually begins on Friday, June 22, with a pair of lectures on climate change. Gail Achterman, director of OSU’s Institute for Natural Resources, will present an introduction to the topic at 7:05 p.m.; Stephen Hammond, acting director for the NOAA Ocean Exploration Program, will follow with a talk called “Exploring the Deep Ocean: New Discoveries and Implications for our Warming Planet.”

The Friday lectures coincide with the 200th anniversary of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The free public lectures will be followed by a reception commemorating the NOAA anniversary.