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License Plates Honoring Oregon Coast Whales Now Available

Published 01/28/2019 at 5:53 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

License Plates Honoring Oregon Coast Whales Now Available

(Oregon Coast) – What are sure to be the most coveted Oregon license plates in years will be available to the public at the beginning of February: the whale plates.

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The new Oregon plates feature the image of a gray whale and her calf, and the public can snag them from the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles beginning on February 1.

“This is a wonderful way to support marine mammal conservation on a local and even a global basis,” said Bruce Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute based at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. “The plates should be popular because they are really striking and the proceeds go to a good cause.”

The plates will be $40 – for new plates or renewals. $35 of that goes to the OSU's Marine Mammal Institute for marine mammal research, graduate education, and public outreach. Since many Oregon residents have already paid vouchers for the plates, all they need to do is submit those to DMV offices instead of any fee. Some small additional fees will be incurred because of new stickers, however.

10,000 plates have been ordered by DMV. The first 20 of the numbered plates will go to those who directly supported the Oregon coast, including regional politicians such as state senators and representatives from the coastline.

The plate's mother and calf whale were drawn by internationally-known illustrator Pieter Folkens. Graphic artist Pete McKeeman, who has won an Emmy in the past for his work, added the two-tone background that represents a sea and sky, accentuated by an Oregon coast lighthouse in one corner. The plate reads “Coastal Playground,” which slightly harkens back to the old “Pacific Wonderland” license plates the state has had in the past.

“Some of the proceeds from the plate sales will target marine mammal research and education,” Mate said. “The plates are a way that citizens can support marine mammal research at a very modest biannual basis and let other folks know about their interests, support and concerns for the coast as they drive down the road.”

A variety of whale-oriented programs will be supported by the Oregon coast whale plates, including the “Whale Watch Spoken Here” program, where Hatfield Marine Science Center researchers train more than 100 volunteers to help the public find whales during the twice-yearly migration peaks. It's a public outreach program that enables scientists to pass on important information to a hungry audience, teaching about conservation issues in the process. It's an effort that reaches about 45,000 visitors each year from as many as 50 different countries around the world.

Dr. Mate is recognized internationally as an expert in marine mammal research, having pioneered some of the early work in tracking whales by satellite. The Marine Mammal Institute is an important figure in scientific work on the Oregon coast and around the world, where research continues to discover more about whales in this area as well as the rest of the globe. Based out of Newport, it was established in 2006 at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center, as an expansion of research programs founded by Mate in the 1970s at OSU. Oregon Coast Lodgings for this - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour



 

Photo above courtesy Seaside Aquarium




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