Our vision is to serve as a trusted resource for ocean education and conservation in the Pacific Northwest, and we strongly believe in leading by example—not just saying, but doing. We continuously work to educate the public on best wildlife and ocean conservation practices, to engage in conservation research and outreach efforts, and to reduce our own environmental impact.
The Aquarium is fortunate to be located in close proximity to, and partner with, several scientific, educational, and environmental organizations, including: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon Coast STEM Hub, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon Coast Community College, Lincoln County School District, NOAA National Marine Fisheries, International Veterinary Association, Surfrider Foundation, SOLVE and Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife.
As a collective, we contribute to and lead valuable formal and informal marine science education, research, and conservation efforts. In the past we've hosted SOLVE beach cleanups that broke attendance records, advocated for a plastic bag ban in Newport (which passed on a state level) and assisted OSU in retrieving technical scientific equipment from the bottom of the ocean with our expert dive team.
Our conservation reach extends far beyond our home on Yaquina Bay:
- We provide the official dive team for the Oregon Marine Reserve Program and are dedicated to regularly conducting dive surveys to understand the long-term changes and conservation outcomes of the reserves over time.
- Our dive staff are a trusted resource for identifying the marine life found in Oregon’s waters and has developed the most comprehensive, state-of-the-art training program for divers in the state of Oregon.
- This year, the Oregon Coast Aquarium embarked on an unprecedented research project to study sevengill shark populations all along the west coast for a collaborative study with other AZA-accredited partner institutions.
- The Aquarium dive team discovered the first instance of Sea Star Wasting Disease in Oregon, and we continue to conduct sea star surveys for ongoing monitoring.
- The Aquarium recruits and trains a legion of 260 volunteer interpreters, divers, educators and animal care providers from throughout Oregon who serve thousands of hours to keep the Aquarium open 364 days a year.
- We partner with organizations throughout Oregon in support of plastic reduction campaigns, which resulted in the designation of March 14 as “Rise Above Plastic Pollution Day” at the Oregon State Capitol by Governor Kate Brown.
- We host multi-collaborative events that seek to elevate the importance of global conservation and science education efforts.
- On-site, the Aquarium’s Green Team is comprised of staff members from a variety of departments that work together to identify opportunities for improved sustainability within the facility. The Green Team educates and encourages staff and volunteers to adopt sustainable practices and develops new avenues and solutions for decreasing the Aquarium’s environmental footprint.
- The Aquarium hosts "Bioblitzes" each summer with partner organizations to survey the organisms at each of Oregon's five marine reserves. The events are attended by over 50 locals and tourists alike and collect key species information while educating the public on citizen science.
- We are one of only three facilities in the Pacific Northwest, and the only facility in Oregon, authorized to provide care for endangered marine species.
- We partner with ODFW, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, NOAA, other AZA accredited facilities including SeaWorld San Diego, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seattle Aquarium and Oregon Zoo to coordinate and advocate for effective conservation management strategies.
Around the world, marine life and ocean health face a variety of threats. Zoos and public aquariums have an important role to play in ocean conservation for generations to come. Although the aim of conservation must be to protect and restore habitats in the wild, thereby saving fish communities and individual species, Aquariums serve as a resource to connect people with marine life and inspire a desire to protect the ocean. Conservation activities can provide important back‐up to this objective—in particular, zoos and public aquariums can play a major part in public education, the provision of holding facilities for fish, wildlife rehabilitation and the breeding of some threatened species under human care.
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is the only aquarium in Oregon accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which has been maintained since 2001. The Aquarium is among 240 institutions that meets the AZA professional standards in animal care, ocean education, scientific research and conservation. Partnering with institutions of higher learning, wildlife organizations and local veterinarians, the Oregon Coast Aquarium provides practical research opportunities and in-field learning experiences for graduate students and interns interested in environmental impact, animal care and wildlife rehabilitation.