NEWPORT, Ore. – Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center will host its annual SeaFest celebration on Saturday, June 28, when visitors to the Newport research and education facility will have the opportunity to pilot a remotely operated vehicle, meet a giant Pacific octopus, or tour one of OSU’s research vessels.
SeaFest, an open house and marine festival, runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Hatfield Center, which is located just south of the Highway 101 bridge in Newport. All SeaFest activities are free and open to the public.
This year’s festival has the theme, “Ocean Frontiers: On the Crest of Discovery.” Activities on June 28 will highlight research that scientists have been exploring at the bayside marine lab operated by Oregon State University in cooperation with state and federal agencies charged with protection of the marine and coastal environment.
A highlight of the festival will be the opportunity to explore the undersea environment just off the center’s research dock with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s mini-ROV (remotely operated vehicle). The dock’s pilings are rich with invertebrate life, said Lisa Mulcahy, SeaFest’s outreach coordinator, and other species that can be observed through the camera “eye” of the remotely controlled vehicle.
A large ROV will be on display at the dock along with video highlights from its undersea survey work. ODFW Marine Resources Program volunteers will talk about shellfish and fish biology and how to determine the age of a fish.
SeaFest visitors also will have a chance to tour two OSU research vessels, the 185-foot R/V Wecoma and the 54-foot R/V Elakha. Marine Discovery Tours of Newport will also be offering rides across Yaquina Bay aboard the rigid-hull inflatable “Oregon Rocket.”
The U.S. Coast Guard will conduct a helicopter search-and-rescue demonstration in Yaquina Bay.
Among the other highlights of SeaFest:
- The Kids’ Zone offers activities throughout the day such as the Travels of a Water Molecule, buoy toss, papermaking, fish printing, shore crab races, incredible edible bugs and face painting.
- Behind-the-scenes tours of the HMSC’s research facilities will showcase the center’s molluscan broodstock aquaculture lab, the seawater system and aquatic animal husbandry program;
- A series of short films about the sea will run every 20 minutes throughout the day on the big screen in the Visitor’s Center;
- Markus Horning, assistant professor at OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute, will deliver the keynote address at 11 a.m.: “Sea Lion Tele-medicine, What Orcas Eat, How to Dive into Old Age and Other Stories of Research from Pole to Pole.”
“SeaFest is a great opportunity for the public to interact with the scientists at the center, tour the labs and see first-hand the research into the ocean at our doorstep,” said Mulcahy, who is coordinating the annual event. “SeaFest is very popular with families with something of interest for everyone.”
In addition to the aquarium displays and touch pools in the Visitor Center where kids can get their hands wet inspecting sea stars, anemones, skates, sea urchins and the giant Pacific octopus, there are dozens of special exhibits created just for SeaFest. The event also includes live music, food and activities and prizes for kids.
“Of course what people love most about SeaFest are the behind-the-scenes tours and the hands-on activities that make learning about the marine and coastal environment a fun experience,” Mulcahy said.
Co-hosting the event with OSU are the university’s partner agencies at the HMSC: the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Agriculture, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Major community sponsors of SeaFest 2008 are the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz, Georgia-Pacific of Toledo and Marine Discovery Tours of Newport.