May 262012

Whale, Sea Life and Shark Museum
Click on photos to enlarge

Carrie Newell knew since she was 7 years old she wanted to be a marine biologist. Today, she teaches marine biology at Lane Community College, conducts whale watching tours and this weekend opened Depoe Bay’s new Whale, Sea Life and Shark Museum in downtown Depoe Bay, just south of the bridge.

Her new museum opened its doors Saturday to the public who learned about specific species of whales, sharks, seabirds, seals, sea lions, crustaceans and other critters of the deep. Large, well lit displays tantalize the eye as well as the mind with clearly written information about what you’re looking at and how it fits into the grand scheme of our world’s oceans. Especially right off our Oregon Coast.

Owner Carrie Newell, caught in photo #4 (in black) smiling at the camera, said it was an outgrowth of her successful whale watching business which always produces more customer questions about the sea than she has the opportunity to answer. So, the museum is her way of answering those questions. Visitors can wander about, drinking in the sights and ambiance of the ocean, which in one case emanate from a flat screen in the museum’s Sea Life Theater. Various DVD’s are featured that cover specific aspects of the open sea. Some are even for sale along with informational books Carrie has authored about whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, sea otters, seabirds and shorebirds.

Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $3 for kids. The museum is open seven days a week from 9am-5pm and is managed by retired state park ranger Morris Grover, a well known whale watching educator in Depoe Bay.

Carrie Newell also runs a busy whale watching and research operation from Dock 3 inside the Depoe Bay Harbor using a fleet of quick and nimble Zodiacs as well as a sailing craft. For more information visit her website at

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 Posted by at 4:14 PM
Jan 142012

Cape Arago, near Coos Bay
Wikipedia photo

When it comes to establishing a highly restricted marine reserve off Cape Arago, the Port of Coos Bay Commission turned thumbs down on it this week, the commission preferring that studies on other proposed marine reserves along the Oregon Coast proceed first. Then, if Cape Arago is still of interest to the state offshore planning efforts, the port can take up the matter then. The story is in the Coos Bay World. Click here.

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 Posted by at 6:14 PM
Jul 192011

Rep. Jean Cowan and Otter Rock Beach

State Representative Jean Cowan, D-Newport, told the Depoe Bay City Council Tuesday evening that despite the legislature’s failure to pass a marine reserves bill last session, progress is none-the-less being made anyway toward the establishment of marine reserves off the Oregon coast. Three of the five proposed reserves lie off the Lincoln County portion of the coast which has raised the angst of many commercial and sports fishing operations. That’s because marine reserves have restrictions on what are called “extractive” activities within their boundaries. And that includes fishing. The point of the reserves is to allow certain prime habitat areas to “rest” while research and baseline studies are conducted on habitat conditions for fish and other marine life including population counts.

Rep. Cowan said that the failure of the marine reserves bill is not because the legislature opposed it, but rather the bill was bundled with other legislation that would not have survived an up or down vote. Cowan said another marine reserves bill will be introduced during the next legislative session that convenes in February. In the meantime she says Governor Kitzhaber, coastal lawmakers, fishing and other ocean interests including environmental groups, will be conferring on how best to move forward on the issue. She said the perverbial “elephant in the room” is environmental interests based in Portland that have made it very clear that if the state does not produce a marine reserves program, they will circulate a voter initiative petition that will put the issue on the state ballot. Cowan said if that happened, it would likely pass with 70% of the vote, driven mainly by voters in Portland and Eugene. However, she added that environmental groups have thus far agreed to work with the governor, legislative leaders and state natural resource agencies as long as sufficient progress is being made toward an acceptable marine reserves program.

Cowan said “the governor and other vital stakeholders are, even now, working very closely to find a way to keep things moving.” She said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) scientists are continuing their background studies on the Otter Rock and Red Fish Rock ‘pilot’ marine reserves. ODFW scientists say they’ll need another year of study to complete their ocean data baseline. After that they’ll be ready to officially declare the two areas ready for ‘closure’ with user restrictions that go with that declaration. ODFW is also conducting baseline data studies on other proposed marine reserves, but they’re not expected to be finished with those for another two years.

Cowan said the key to success will be to ensure that scientists get the ocean data they need while not disrupting the economic health of Oregon coast communities.

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 Posted by at 11:22 PM
Jul 142011

Exploring the Pacific, with “YBOOI!”

A group of business leaders, educators, marine scientists, city officials and other agency leaders gathered to talk Thursday night about how Newport can work together, as a community, to make itself the center of ocean data gathering for the Pacific northwest and thereby dramatically improve its local economy by landing more higher paying scientific, engineering and high tech labor jobs. The group trying to make all that happen is called the Yaquina Bay Ocean Observing Initiative (YBOOI).

With the arrival of NOAA’s Pacific research fleet headquarters in Newport, marine science-based income now sits at roughly $65 million a year. But with the added growth of ocean observation research now beginning to emerge in the mix, largely through the efforts of the National Science Foundation, Newport’s marine science income could approach $100 million a year, that according to Marine Resource Economist Gil Sylvia. Other YBOOI officials said Newport residents should get behind this new era of ocean research that is expected to continue for another fifty years as humankind tries to better understand the world’s oceans and everything that lives in them, including climate change and its effects on sea temperatures and fishery habitats.

But to put Newport on a track to enjoy such widespread economic benefits, it will take cooperation and proper promotion among the major institutions in the area, including the Hatfield Marine Science Center and all of its research sub-agencies and institutions, NOAA, the city of Newport, the ports of Newport and Toledo as well as Oregon Coast Community College; even the Lincoln County School District. Educational, scientific and political alignments must be established and then maintained over time to ensure that the entire community is working together to harness the economic benefits of more detailed marine research looming on the near horizon.

Proper city and county land use policies will be needed to keep Newport’s waterfront areas dedicated to proper waterfront operations. A smart Lincoln County School system and a nimble Oregon Coast Community College must offer relevant courses to train budding ocean researchers, equipment design and maintenance workers, highly skilled construction tradesmen and many as yet unimagined new skills that will be required to feed the growing ocean observing industry. Again, all high paying jobs that will grow Newport’s economy.

The YBOOI group will hold a strategy session Friday that will begin developing a work plan aimed at mobilizing the community to capitalize on the emerging ocean observing industry. The workshop will involve a select group of government, civic, business, education and other vital community leaders. YBOOI member and Newport businessman John Lavrakas said they’ll focus on specific ways to move the community forward to harness the economic opportunities from ocean research off the west coast from Monterey, California north to Puget Sound.

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 Posted by at 10:51 PM
Jun 302011

Marine Reserves Bill Dies

Despite countless hours of local and regional public input all up and down the Oregon Coast on whether and where to establish marine reserves for scientific studies leading to a better understanding of Oregon’s territorial waters, the crescendo that was building toward a new law formally establishing such reserves fell flat in the waning days of the Oregon Legislature. It didn’t happen. As with any legislative success there are many fathers and mothers, but for failed bills, they’re all orphans.

Local and regional environmental groups, citing a long Oregon history of interest in understanding the scientific baselines for coastal waters saw the opportunity in HB 2009 to provide that structure with carefully delineated marine reserves that in some cases allowed some commercial and sport fishing, while others did not. Scientists and their supporting environmental agencies and organizations have claimed that ocean resource managers will be equipped to make better decisions if regulators more fully understand what are ambient ocean conditions and which ones aren’t.

All through the various hearings from Brookings to Astoria, and in Salem and Portland, various groups, afraid that their access to ocean resources would be reduced or otherwise marginalized, opposed the the very concept of marine reserves for a number of reasons. They contend that marking off specific offshore areas is an arbitrary act of human beings who unjustifiably declare that a given area is “pristine” or somehow less affected by human activity or global ocean dynamics. They describe the ocean as a huge system, all connected together that appears, at times, to defy smaller scale scientific theories that seek to explain ocean trends in terms of water conditions, fish and mammal habitat and other factors.

However, environmental groups, which have a big political fist in Oregon politics and who side with those who want marine reserves established, claim that humans are ravaging the oceans with overfishing and excessive pollution among other assaults on ocean health. And they say they have scientific proof. It was often said at coastal meetings conducted by the Ocean Policy Advisory Council, which is advisory to the Governor and the Legislature on coastal matters, that if the legislature failed to establish marine reserves, environmental groups would launch armies of voter signature gatherers and put the issue on the ballot – and that it would pass overwhelmingly; lose in the rurals but be enormously popular in the Portland and Eugene metro areas, which of course, would carry the state.

But if there remains any doubt that HB 2009 is dead, it would have to be due to direct intervention by Governor John Kitzhaber who, while governor years ago, first pioneered the idea of marine reserves and pushed hard to have them established. Just because the legislature failed to enact a marine reserves law doesn’t mean that’s the final word. Kitzhaber reportedly could sign executive orders requiring the activation of such activities funded by money already socked away in a number of Oregon environmental agencies like parks, wildlife and fisheries. Those considered “moderates” on marine reserves would more likely prefer such an approach rather than a more restrictive version that would evolve from a statewide initiative.

So now the wait begins to see who blinks first.

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 Posted by at 1:12 AM
Jan 142011


Marine scientists at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, partnering up with their colleagues at NOAA, are hoping to literally teach baby King Crabs how to survive in the cold cruel oceans. It doesn’t help that King Crab juveniles aren’t as smart as salmon, but the scientists are keeping at it. The story comes from the Oregonian:

Click here:

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 Posted by at 5:18 PM
Sep 282010

Onna Husing, “Land use zoning for the ocean”

When you look seaward from Newport, you see endless ocean clear to the horizon. But on that horizon there are people mapping and planning the future of Oregon coastal waters. Not only out to the state’s territorial three mile marker, but far beyond. They are zoning the sea like cities zone their lands. Uses A, B, and C for this area, and X, Y, Z for over there. No doing C,D and F over here, and no T,U and V way over there. Add in terms like commercial fishing, dredge deposits, wave energy farms, aquatic and aviary habitat protection, whale watching, surfing and scuba diving and you start to get the picture.

Oregon Coastal Zone Management Association’s Onno Husing told the Newport Port Commission Tuesday night that although this “zoning” approach has made a lot of coastal people nervous, he assured them “It’s a good thing. We’re all about to learn a lot more about our coast and its waters that go out for many miles.” Continue reading »

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 Posted by at 10:31 PM
Aug 302010

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One of the Oregon Coast’s premier attractions, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, is holding it’s annual fundraiser that makes the rest of the year possible. It’s the Jellyfish Jubilee and it’s arriving at the Aquarium September 25th. Ticket information at, and click on the Jellyfish Jubilee button! Or 503-222-6433, or 541-867-6846!

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 Posted by at 4:48 PM
Aug 032010

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Mombetsu’s Sister City delegation to Newport had a very full day today, from crafting with agates, to dancing and playing games with young Shakespearian actors. Then more dancing, class time and exploring at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Enjoy. Arigatō!

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 Posted by at 11:26 PM
Jul 212010

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Port of Newport officials say they’ve got enough money to begin creating a new International Terminal at the east end of the port property. But somewhere along the way they’re going to have to raise more money to actually finish it.

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