NEWPORT, Ore. – Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center will host its seventh annual SeaFest celebration on Saturday, June 27, in Newport.
This annual festival combines hands-on activities, displays, tours and education revolving around the marine sciences. The event begins at 10 a.m. at the center’s waterfront campus on Yaquina Bay, adjacent to the Oregon Coast Aquarium just south of the Highway 101 bridge.
The day-long event offers visitors a chance to go behind the scenes to see the labs and meet the scientists who study marine life, explore the bottom of the sea, and track whales across the world’s oceans, according to Ken Hall, program manager at the OSU center and coordinator for the community festival.
“SeaFest is a great opportunity for the public to get a closer look at the amazing web of life that exists in the ocean and estuaries,” Hall said. “With all of the interactive, hands-on science exhibits, live animal displays, and demonstrations of what marine scientists do in their daily work, visitors leave SeaFest with a better understanding of a whole range of topics.”
Organizers emphasize the appeal of the event to all ages, highlighting the wide range of exhibitors, food vendors, live music on the entertainment stage, and activities for kids including crafts, face painting, outdoor games and other attractions. Visitors can watch the Hatfield center’s resident giant Pacific octopus, “Amigo,” devour a live crab during the noontime feeding, or get their hands wet inspecting sea stars, anemones, fish and sea urchins in the touch pools that simulate the rocky intertidal zone.
Ocean-going research vessels will be on display at the dock between noon and 4 p.m., with public tours offered aboard the R/V Pacific Storm, flagship of the OSU Marine Mammal Institute, which was featured in the March issue of National Geographic magazine and the National Geographic Channel documentary, “Kingdom of the Blue Whale.”
Participants at SeaFest may pick up an “Ocean Passport” and get it stamped at different science exhibits, and then return it to the information booth for a chance to win prizes, including two free round-trip tickets on SeaPort Airlines, and overnight lodging and golf package for two at the Salishan Spa and Golf Resort in Gleneden Beach. The drawing for prizes takes place at 3:50 p.m.
Other highlights include:
- Guided tours of the center’s seawater system, oyster aquaculture operation, aquatic animal husbandry facilities and Yaquina Bay estuary trail (tours offered throughout the day);
- Science Zone exhibits demonstrating the tools and techniques scientists use to study a wide variety of marine life, including various species of salmon, flatfish, shellfish, and marine mammals;
- Dockside exhibits: crab pots in the water, live shellfish displays and rare deep sea fish species on ice;
- Outdoor exhibits highlighting research on sustainability and renewable energy technologies including solar power, wind, and wave energy;
- Displays highlighting outdoor recreational gear and activities with “how-to” demonstrations on fishing, kayaking/canoeing, surfing, bicycling, kite flying and other fun things to do on the coast;
- Giant birthday cake and historical display celebrating Oregon sesquicentennial and the 50th anniversary of OSU’s oceanography program;
- A helicopter search and rescue demonstration by the U.S. Coast Guard on Yaquina Bay (2 p.m.);
- Screening of the National Geographic Channel film, “Kingdom of the Blue Whale,” and an opportunity to meet the researchers featured in the film (3 p.m.).
SeaFest has been maintained as a free event, Hall said, thanks in part to the financial and in-kind support of community sponsors including the City of Newport, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Georgia Pacific-Toledo and the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
The theme of SeaFest 2009 is “Leadership through Science,” highlighting research conducted by OSU and its partner agencies at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
SeaFest scheduled events and exhibits end at 4 p.m., but the Visitor Center remains open until 5 p.m. Accommodation requests related to a disability should be made to Seafest@oregonstate.edu. For more information, including photos from previous years’ events, visit: http://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/seafest/.