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Oregon Coast Whale License Plate Appears to be a Go

Published 04/21/2018 at 6:26 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Oregon Coast Whale License Plate Appears to be a Go

(Newport, Oregon) – It seems the much-lauded Oregon coast gray whale license plate will be getting a green light in the state, as the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute reached its goal of selling 3,000 vouchers for the plate earlier this week.

The license plate celebrates Oregon’s largest animal, depicting a gray whale and her calf. Efforts were begun last year to make this available to the public, but it required proof of interest and some financial backing, which meant selling vouchers for the plate.

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The Marine Mammal Institute, headquartered on the central Oregon coast, will continue selling the $40 vouchers for a time at www.whaleplate.com. For each voucher sold, the institute will receive $35, which will help fund marine mammal research and education.

“There has been a great deal of enthusiasm from Oregonians for the new plates – not only because of how striking they are, but also because they will help fund whale conservation efforts,” said OSU’s Bruce Mate, who directs the institute.

It won’t be until the first quarter of 2019 that the whale plates will be available, as Oregon’s DMV is in the midst of switching computer systems.

The initiative won strong support from the beginning from the public and state officials. The Oregon Legislature, with the central Oregon coast’s Rep. David Gomberg of District 10 at the helm, has endorsed the idea for several legislative sessions.

Mate is recognized around the world as an expert in marine mammal research, pioneering some of the big breakthroughs in tracking whales by satellite, using tagging. The Marine Mammal Institute was established in 2006 at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon, as an expansion of a program founded by Mate in the 1970s at OSU.

“Whales are wonderful creatures that we all enjoy off of our coast throughout the year,” Mate said. “This license plate program celebrates the wonders of the ocean and its attraction for people as well. The funds will directly help the Marine Mammal Institute conduct conservation-oriented research, educate students and provide public outreach.”

The lyrical image of the whales was created by wildlife illustrator Pieter Folkens, who is also know the world over in his field of art. The plates depict a whale mother and calf on a two-toned background that emulates the sea and sky. In the upper left corner is a lighthouse, and across the bottom it reads “Coastal Playground.”

For more information on the Marine Mammal Institute, go to: https://mmi.oregonstate.edu/.

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