Is this a face that only a mother could love? Don’t tell that directly to the weedy scorpionfish who has a bit of a venomous bite. Kidding aside, Rhinopias frondosa is spellbinding, even beautiful to look at. It doesn’t swim so much as crawl on its lacy fins. I saw this specimen at the Georgia Aquarium.
I love staring at jellyfish at aquariums. So do a lot of other people. They are among the most beautiful and hypnotic of creatures. The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA, has a terrific collection, among them these splendid sea nettles. The aquarium may not compete with some of the nation’s more well-known and larger ones, but it’s a gem, has more touch tanks than any I’ve visited and was interesting enough to keep my grandchildren occupied for hours.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the world’s best. You could spend an entire day there if you have the patience to tolerate hordes of people who come from all over. My grandson did, as he is fascinated with sea life. The exhibits of jellyfish and tentacled creatures are superb, matched by the famed underwater 28-foot kelp forest exhibit and the Open Sea Gallery. At $40 for an adult, admittedly needed to cover the cost of maintenance, support educational programs for children and conduct research projects, it isn’t inexpensive by any means.
Back in 2009, Newport appeared on our culinary radar when we ate a remarkable cioppino at Sharks Seafood Bar. It would be enough of a reason to come back again (and again). Aside from its many seafood restaurants, this town of 10,000 residents has several other attractions.
The most obvious physical presence in the city is the historic Yaquina Bay Bridge, one of many designed by Oregon engineer Conde McCullough. It is a steel and concrete arch bridge spanning Yaquina Bay that used to be crossed by ferry before the bridge’s completion in 1938. We walked partially across it to admire McCullough’s artistic touches: gothic pointed arches cut out in the balustrade and the art deco design of the four obelisks that flank both ends of the arch.
One of the finest aquariums in the country is also located here, the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Though my recall is vague of what I saw the last time I visited many years ago with my family, what did stick in my mind was a stunning display of jellyfish in a large cylindrical tank in which many diaphanous specimens floated up and down in dancelike movements, illuminated only by a single light from above. It was simple but spectacular. Our visit today was rewarded by another beautiful display of jellyfish (above) and equally fine exhibits of fascinating creatures and ecosystems that live off the Oregon coast.
A walk in the historic Bayfront area along Bay Boulevard still reflects Newport’s heritage as an important fishing village. It still is a port off Yaquina Bay where fishing fleets continue to work, has a fish processing plant and hosts several businesses, including many fine seafood restaurants. Murals by Rick Chambers adorn the sides of buildings, all of them paying homage to Newport’s maritime history.