Monday, November 11, 2013

Oregon Coast Aquarium – 3

We conclude our visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport with stops at three buildings.

The Sandy Shores exhibit helps visitors understand the complexity of this teeming but narrow ecosystem where the land meets the water. This 4,730-gallon tank replicates the unique habitat formed by docks and piers where anemones and mussels encrust the human-made features and Dungeness Crabs scuttle along the bottom. Nearby, a separate exhibit replicates the constant ebb and flow of the surf against a tide pool filled with anemones, sculpins and oysters. Other exhibits display the natural habitats of the delicate Sea Pen and the curious-looking flatfish.

Next door, sealife that must survive along the Rocky Shores of the Oregon coast includes those plants and animals which some must be adapted to survive both the cold water and the hot sun. While some keep cool and wet in the tide pools, others trap moisture in watertight shells or crawl into the damp shade under rocks or beneath the broken leaves of bull kelp. To deal with the challenges of predators, many of these marine animals are covered in hard shells, have elaborate camouflage or are armed with stinging cells called nematocysts.

The centerpiece of the Rocky Shores Gallery is the touch-pool. Staffed by volunteers, this exhibit lets visitors gently interact with tide pool residents like sea stars, gumboot chitons and anemones. Other gallery highlights include habitats for the fearsome-looking (but gentle) Wolf Eel,
brightly-colored rockfish
and a wide range of sea stars, limpets and other invertebrates.
The third building in this group houses the Coastal Waters exhibit. Some inhabitants of this building include those found in the moon jelly exhibit and

those in an exhibit featuring sea nettles,

In another exhibit area is this lone Japanese Spider Crab.
This aquarium deserves its recognition as one of the top aquariums in the country.

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