NEWPORT - Coastal visitors can dive into an ocean of discovery when Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center opens its doors for H.M.S. SeaFest, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 22.

The center will give visitors a free behind-the-scenes look at the ocean science facility operated in Newport by OSU. Games, demonstrations, tours, display and lectures by leading scientists are all part of the activities planned for the day.

OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center is a huge complex of labs and offices where important research goes on daily. The public rarely gets to see much of what goes on beyond the Visitor Center. During SeaFest, however, visitors will have a chance to get a look behind the scenes and visit with scientists in their labs. Guided tours of the labs will leave from the Visitor Center every 20 minutes between noon and 2 p.m.

The Wecoma, OSU's scientific research vessel, will be at the center's dock for tours throughout the day. The ship is an important part of the university's oceanic research and the scene of many exciting discoveries. Tours will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Guided walks along the Yaquina Bay Estuary nature trail and a birding field trip also are planned.

SeaFest includes a full slate of activities for the family, including creating seaweed art and other art projects; playing the Migration Game, and meeting such characters as Cap'n Beware, the Beach Safety Bear, and J.R. Beaver, mascot of the Oregon State Parks Junior Rangers program.

Among the events planned for H.M.S. SeaFest is a hovercraft provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. Other demonstrations include crab shaking; seafood recipes and preparation; learning about tidepool critters; assembling real whale bones to form a complete whale; net mending; and a display by Guy Di Torrice, the "Oregon Fossil Guy," that includes hundreds of fossils.

Organizations that will have displays and exhibits at the Visitor Center include the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Lincoln County Marine Deputy Patrol, CoastWatch, the Port of Newport, Sea Gull Charters, Angel Job Corps, Oregon Sea Grant, OSU Extension, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Parks Beach Safety, Whale Watch Weeks, Yaquina Lights, the Bureau of Land Management, 4-H, Surfriders, Oregon Coast Community College, OSU, and the winning entries in the Rotary Club of Newport's Middle School Science Fair.

Some of the West Coast's top marine scientists will talk about the latest findings in their fields.

Lectures will be held in both the Visitor Center Auditorium and the Library Seminar Room, located in the center's Guinn Library. The schedule is:

  • 11 a.m.: "NOAA Ocean Exploration" - NOAA's Steve Hammond looks back at the deep-sea xploration that discovered "seafloor vents alive with extraordinary, unexpected creatures amid the gushing black smokers." (HMSC auditorium)


  • 11:30 a.m.: "Fossils" - Learn the role coastal geology and erosion play in forming the wide variety of fossils you can find on Oregon beaches, by Newport resident and amateur fossil collector Guy Di Torrice, a member of the Mid-America Paleontology Society Northwest Interpretive Association. (Library seminar room)


  • Noon: "Enchanted Seas - Magical Creatures Worth Protecting" - Tad Smith, the Oregon Coast Aquarium's curator of fishes and invertebrates, shares the magical properties of seawater. (HMSC Auditorium)


  • 12:30 p.m.: "CoastWatch" - Phillip Johnson of CoastWatch explains how citizens keep watch over Oregon's shore. Hear how this citizen environmental monitoring group came to be and where it's going. CoastWatch is now more than 890 strong, keeping watch over Oregon's entire 362-mile coast. (Library seminar room)


  • 1 p.m.: "Coelacanth" - Michael Banks, a marine fisheries genetics specialist at the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, will talk about the Coelacanth, a pre-historic fish once thought to be extinct until the recent discovery of a new population of coelacanth at Sodwana Bay. (HMSC Auditorium)


  • 1:30 p.m.: "Citizen Bird Counts at Yaquina Bay" - Learn about the water-bird counts from Kathy Merrifield of the Yaquina Birders. She has conducted counts over the last two years. (Library seminar room)


  • 2 p.m.: "Oregon's Dynamic Coastal Ocean" - OSU oceanographer Jack Barth describes how OSU scientists use a coastal radar system installed from Lincoln City to Florence to study the effect of winds and currents on coastal ocean productivity. (HMSC Auditorium)


  • 2:30 p.m.: "Yaquina Head: Past, Present and Future" - Joe Ashor, Bureau of Land Management, talks about the ancient history, native inhabitants, cultural history and early lighthouse years of this Oregon landmark area and BLM's involvement in developing the site. (Library seminar room)


  • 3 p.m.: "How Beaches Work" - Rob Holman of the Coastal Imaging Lab will talk about how oceanographers see beaches and try to answer some common questions about beaches. The Coastal Imaging Lab has developed and runs the Argus Program, featuring coastal remote sensing stations studying 11 beaches around the world. (HMSC Auditorium)


  • 4 p.m.: "Finding the Giants: Tracking Endangered Whales by Satellite" - Carol DeLancey, a marine education specialist at the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, will talk about what is - and isn't - known about whales.

Persons interested in learning more about SeaFest, including schedules and a "virtual tour" of the facility, may check online at

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Teri Nogler, 541-867-0271