Oregon Coast Aquarium


Mission Statement

Our mission is to create unique and engaging experiences that connect people to the Oregon coast and inspire ocean conservation.


The Oregon Coast Aquarium was founded in 1984 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in the coastal town of Newport, Oregon. The Aquarium was developed by the Yaquina Bay Economic Foundation to draw tourism, facilitate oceanic research and education, and bring economic prosperity to the community. Since opening in 1992, it has welcomed more than 15 million visitors from around the world. In the late 1990s, the Aquarium was home to Keiko, the Killer Whale (of "Free Willy" fame) until his release into the Nordic seas. It is the only aquarium in Oregon accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), maintaining this designation since 2001. More than a top-tier tourist destination, the Aquarium’s mission has even further implications:
ENVIRONMENT: The sea is a major force on the planet; home to over a million known species of plants and animals, producer of half of the oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere, sustainer of natural resources, and regulator of the world’s climate. The Aquarium engages youth volunteers in beach clean-ups, raises awareness about plastic pollution and climate change, identifies rare or endangered species, and shares updates on rescue and rehabilitation efforts. The Aquarium is one of three rehabilitation facilities in the Pacific Northwest, and the only facility in Oregon authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide specialized care to endangered marine life like sea turtles and sea birds.
EDUCATION: The Aquarium is a vital STEM education resource for hundreds of school groups who visit each year, thousands of students in rural communities who benefit from our outreach education, and thousands of youth volunteers who explore marine careers. Understanding the ocean is critical for future exploration, as well as international commerce, sustainable fishing, climate sensitive agribusinesses, biotechnologies to combat cancer, and the oxygen we breathe.
ECONOMIC: Since opening in 1992, the Aquarium has welcomed more than 15 million visitors from around the world to Newport. Drawing 96% of its visitors from outside Lincoln County, and 38% out-of-state, the Aquarium is a key driver in Oregon’s $12 billion tourism industry. Aquarium visitation alone contributes an estimated economic value of $100 million each year to the central coast, and boosts employment for this rural community.
ENTERTAINMENT: The Aquarium is frequently rated by travel writers as one of the top ten aquariums in the U.S. because of its naturalistic marine life exhibits, educational programming, and strong sense of place on the Pacific coast. Special exhibits added every two years keep the experience fresh for visitors of all ages, and maintain admissions.

Program Details

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is a treasured tourist destination for Oregon, and a recognized authority and trusted resource for marine science education. Our strategic plan conducted in 2016 calls for a refresh of exhibits, as well as attention to the growing diversity of our guests to improve the visitor experience and lengthen stay time. Most of the exhibits have not been updated in 28 years and need to be improved. Visit our website to learn more about our efforts to:
  1. Build a Marine Rehabilitation Center
  2. Enhance Education Programming
  3. Create a Children’s Nature Play Area
  4. Improve Three Core Indoor Galleries
  5. Remodel the Entry, Great Hall and Cafe
Of the average 410,000 people who visited the Aquarium in Newport (pop: 10,680) last year: 4% were Lincoln County residents (pop: 48,920), 58% from other Oregon counties, 12% rural communities, 9% from Oregon’s coastal communities, 25% from the Portland metro area, 35% live outside of Oregon, 3% were International, 31% children under 17, 29% adults 18-24, 30% adults 25-64, 10% seniors, 89% white, 7.6% Latino, 3.3% Asian, 3% Native Tribes, 1.4% Pacific Islander, 1.3% Black, and 19% live in poverty, In addition to general public admissions this past year:
  • 280 stranded or injured marine wildlife animals received urgent and rehabilitative care - most released to their natural habitat.
  • 9,226 field trip students (44% from rural communities) who went on self-guided tours and had access to our self-guided tour materials and interpretive volunteers.
  • 3,067 children and adults (33% from rural communities) participated in overnight programs, meeting our husbandry staff, participating in hands-on activities and taking behind the scenes tours.
  • 30,883 students and their teachers in 120 OR, WA, CA & ID schools participated in our outreach program. More than 75% are schools from rural communities with families who do not have the financial or logistical capacity to travel to the coast. We offer a sliding scale scholarship program for Title I schools.
  • 406 Oregon teachers attended Aquarium trainings, including 245 attending our Oregon Coastal Learning Symposiums.
  • 55,329 teens, pre-teens and educators were virtual users of our Oceanscape Network distance learning program. Oceanscape-aquarium.org encourages and supports nature exploration, marine science in the classroom – 19% of which are in remote, rural communities of Oregon.
  • 725 preschoolers attended Aquatots, our early education program, which is free with admission and focuses on nature play; creating a connection between young guests and the natural world.
  • 390 volunteers served as interpreters, divers, educators and animal care providers, keeping the Aquarium open 364 days a year, and enhancing the visitor experience.
  • 49 Youth Volunteers and 9 interns explored marine science careers.

Primary Issue
2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd
Newport, OR 97365
United States
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