Hello Friends and Family,

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Oregon or Bust, Part 7

On our last day on the coast, Steve, Johnny and I decided to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. What a delightful place to spend a few hours looking at living exhibits of anemones (shown here), sea urchins, crabs, fish, sea birds and aquatic mammals! In fact, the Packers love it so much they are charter members. I probably would be too if I lived nearby.

Sea urchins — there are hundreds of varieties of these slow-moving animals who survive in many different ocean environments mostly eating algae. I love the fast motion videos of these creatures which bring them more into a human time frame.

By the way, sea urchins are the source of a popular item at Japanese sushi bars. Uni, as it is called, is made from the gonads (which produce the milt and roe). According to one writer online, "raw uni has a fresh ocean taste — briny and slightly minerally but not salty or 'fishy'. The flavor is mildly nutty with a slight sweetness similar to raw scallops. The texture is smooth, wet and custard-like." 

She went on to say, "while the flavor of uni isn't particularly strong or sharp, the combination of the briny ocean taste and creamy texture is definitely not for everyone."

I confess that I have tried it and it is not for me even though I enjoy many types of sushi.

The aquarium has a nice collection of multiple varieties of jellyfish. It is almost hypnotizing to watch their slow dance as they open their bell then close it to propel themselves forward.

Photographer's note: the dark tanks made it difficult to get really sharp photos — even with a tripod, their motion can still produce a blur. White balance and reflections also create challenges.

This colorful little fish looked so sad. Maybe it was concerned about being swallowed by a larger fish — since they all shared the same enormous tank.

Speaking of larger fish, here is a ray gliding stealthily through the shared tank.

Ah, I can hear the music from Jaws already, as a small shark prowls the waters.

A playful sea lion plays tag with his friend (out of the photo). They are so graceful in the water — and just the opposite out of it.

And doesn't everyone love the sea otters — I sure do. They are so cute just swimming or even when they are laying on their backs using a rock to crack open some form of shellfish.

In addition to the aquatic mammals, the aquarium has a variety of sea birds. Pictured here is a Common Murre which inhabits the cooler northern oceans, nesting along rocky cliffs and spending its winter at sea. They spend most of their time at sea, only coming to land to breed.

The common murre is a pursuit-diver that forages for food by swimming underwater using its wings for propulsion. Dives usually last less than one minute, but the bird swims underwater for distances of over 30 m (98 ft) on a regular basis. Diving depths up to 180 m (590 ft) have been recorded and birds can remain underwater a couple of minutes. They mainly eat small schooling forage fish 200 mm (7.9 in) long or less, such as polar cod, capelin, sand lances, sprats, sandeels, Atlantic cod and Atlantic herring.

These are Pigeon Guillemot which are endemic to the Pacific Ocean. They breed on rocky shores, cliffs and islands, often forming small loose colonies. After the breeding season, they migrate northward. Birds usually return to their natal colony to breed.

They dive for food from the surface, swimming underwater, feeding on benthic (bottom dwelling) prey, which is usually obtained close to shore. They mainly eat fish and other aquatic animals, particularly sculpins, sandfish (Trichodon), cod, capelin, and crabs.


This handsome bird is a Tufted Puffin, which is found throughout the North Pacific Ocean. They form dense breeding colonies during the summer reproductive season, favoring the safety of isolated islands. Tufted puffins feed almost exclusively on fish, which they catch by diving from the surface. Adults may also feed on squid or other invertebrates. Feeding areas can be located far offshore from the nesting areas. Puffins can store large quantities of small fish in their bills and carry them to their chicks.

After a couple hours of touring the aquarium, Johnny wanted to visit the gift shop, hoping to purchase some shells for his collection. Interestingly, the aquarium has a policy of not selling items derived from sea creatures. But the salesperson was helpful and suggested a shop just a quarter mile from the aquarium. We found it easily because of the pirate standing outside. Johnny found some shells he liked and when I went to pay for them, was reminded of one of the benefits of living (or in our case visiting) Oregon — no sales tax. For someone, such as myself, who has lived his entire live in states with sales tax, the lack of that line item actually looked weird on the sales receipt.

Well, I hope you enjoyed our trip to Oregon as much as I enjoyed sharing the photos and narrative. New subject next week.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com