We had a lot of fun visiting the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. It is less than ten years old and has taken advantage of new techniques, such as a cylindrical tank for its jellyfish exhibit. The sea otter lies on its back in the water, its paws on its belly, perhaps hoping to crack two clamshells against one another Sea otter

We especially liked the exhibits of seals and sea otters. They were active and playful, and we watched them for a long time, swimming and splashing and playing mock battle. The sea birds, including (Pacific) puffins, murres and oystercatchers, were also appealing. They have bred these sea birds in captivity, an unusual achievement. We could approach within a few feet of the birds, so they are quite accustomed to humans. Indeed a docent was in the aviary and kept at least one eager teenager from trying to touch the birds.

The Aquarium has garnered large contributions from a number of individuals and firms, including Paul Allen, the founder of Microsoft. A gift from Allen was the principal source of financing for their new walk through aquarium, where the visitor walks through several glass tunnels, and sees fish all around, above and below. The exhibit featured local fish, including lots of leopard sharks.

The remainder of the exhibits are well-arranged and beautifully-lit exhibits of fish, rays, anemones and stars, crabs and shellfish, with good explanations. The jellyfish exhibit is striking, but doesn't have quite the variety found at the Monterey Aquarium. A mass of branching tendrils distinguishes the basket star Basket star

We talked later to Clyde, an avid fisherman who works at our motel. He is campaigning (letters to government agencies, a web site, etc.) against what he describes as an experiment by Oregon Fish and Game, in which they tag salmon according to the river they come from, and if the salmon returns to the wrong river, they kill it. Evidently the Fish and Game believe that letting salmon go up the wrong river to spawn will result in impure genetic material. They donate the fish to local charities so it isn't totally wasted, but the salmon and eggs are lost to the fishing process. Clyde mentioned this example as part of a general description of the decline of all kinds of fishing on the Oregon coast -- an eerie echo of what we heard in the East last summer. Of course, in the Canadian waters the culprits were First Nation, Global Warming, and the lack of krill. But it all comes down to overusing a limited resource.