From whales to plankton, Marine Discovery Tours offers close encounters with sea life
One of the greatest adventures visitors can have in Newport is a trip aboard the 65-foot Discovery, the tour boat operated by Marine Discovery Tours. This award-winning family-owned business was started in 1992 by a West Coast fisherman, captain Don Mathews, and his wife, Fran, a marine journalist. The Mathewses and their fun team of naturalists love sharing their “back yard” – Yaquina Bay and River and the nearshore Pacific – and its abundant resident sea life. Their team’s mission statement says it all: “Deliver great activities and information that lead to connections with the aquatic world. Have fun. Repeat the process!” Every year they welcome aboard 7,000 students on field trips, motor coach groups from across North America, and families from local to international.
Berthed conveniently on the Bayfront, the Discovery is the largest passenger vessel on the coast. It is loaded with comfortable seating for all in a heated cabin, the latest in safety equipment, computer monitors to watch the radar and GPS, and always, great coffee, Rogue Ales, and Oregon wines. The cruise route is determined daily by the captain – if the ocean is calm and safe, the Discovery heads out to sea. If the conditions are rough, the captain will take you only to the edge of the jetties at the mouth of the bay, then calmly cruise through 4,000 acres of salt water bay and freshwater river systems where there are plenty of sights to see, from sea lions to oyster farms.
Expeditions often find gray whales, seals, sea lions, porpoises, and sea birds while enjoying the beauty of the rugged Oregon coastline. From time to time more exotic animals are spotted, including orcas and sharks. Guests are always entertained with stories about the historic coastal community from the early lighthouse keepers to modern day fishermen with satellite-driven navigation systems. Endorsed by the Oregon Coast Aquarium as a “Floating Adventure,” hands-on activities onboard include pulling up authentic West Coast crab pots from sparkling Bay waters filled with Dungeness crab – Oregon’s official State Crustacean. Passengers help tow plankton nets to see the microscopic critters at the base of all ocean food chains. Yep – your favorite seafood is courtesy of these mighty microscopic wonders. Need some new shots for your Facebook page? Navigation lessons are a favorite feature with the captain – picture your kids driving the boat … really!
Special event cruises are available for brunches, dinner parties, family reunions, weddings, and the scattering of ashes at sea. Make reservations for a unique must-do Newport experience that’s available from March through October.
For more information about Marine Discovery Tours, go to www.marinediscoverytours.com.