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Central Oregon Coast's Hatfield Marine Science Center to Reopen

Published 07/09/21 at 5:45 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Central Oregon Coast's Hatfield Marine Science Center to Reopen

(Newport, Oregon) – Newport's famed and revered Hatfield Marine Science Center reopens on August 1, along with its Visitor Center.

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It's been a long 17 months of a closure due to COVID-19 – one that's left its mark. With the pandemic still not quite done with, more health safeguards still need to be in place, and there are some financial strains this creates for the center. Now, the Oregon coast attraction is forced to sell ticket reservations and have a maximum capacity. A temporary $3 admission is now in place for one-hour slots that are reservable as far ahead as September 30.

Tickets to the center can be purchased at beav.es/hatfieldvctickets. If the maximum capacity has not been reached, people can buy tickets online at the door using their cellphones.

Visitor Center manager Maureen Collson said the temporary $3 fee is for those ages 5 or older, and necessary to pay for the extra staffing and health measures such as enhanced cleaning.

Capacity is at 50 people per hour at this time, with as many as 25 entering every half hour. There is now a one-way loop where people will be required to stay six feet from each other. According to Oregon State University guidelines and state guidance, face coverings will not be required, although those wishing to wear one are welcome to do so.

New interactive exhibits are to be found at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, once again bringing to life surprising aspects of the Oregon coast. This time around, look for a simulation of the bridge of an actual research vessel used by the Hatfield and OSU. The 199-foot R/V Taani is currently being built in Louisiana, but you can stand at its helm and steer the vessel through Newport's Yaquina Bay, which includes a computer-animated virtual reality of the bay passing by on a semi-circle of five screens.

Dig down and deep into the world of crabs from the central coast with a tank full of local crustaceans. To celebrate the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 50th anniversary, which occurred in 2020, there's also a timeline of the agency's research in the Pacific Northwest.

Lots of old favorites remain, including the indoor tidepool. There, visitors can touch sea anemones, and tanks where they can learn about erosion and wave energy and crash waves against Lego structures. Coastal photos by Newport's Bill Posner will be hung in the space of a former gift shop.

Before the pandemic, about 150,000 people each year passed through the doors of the Visitor Center, which opened in 1965 and has been managed by Oregon Sea Grant since 1997.

The Visitor Center will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday and closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. The address is 2030 SE Marine Science Drive, Newport.

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