Seaside Beach Discovery Program Returns – Saturdays in July & August

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Who: Seaside Aquarium
What: Seaside Beach Discovery Program
When: Saturdays July- August 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (weather dependent)
Where: On the beach in front of Seaside Aquarium
Why: After taking a two year hiatus due to Covid, our Beach Discovery Program is back.

This summer the Seaside Beach Discovery Program will be held on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Seaside Beach Discovery Program is a free, educational program that sets up on the beach in front of the Seaside Aquarium. The public is invited to come learn about the marine life found along Seaside’s open sandy beach, beach and dune ecology, and the many ways Seaside Beach has changed over time. We also hand out beach cleaning supplies for those people who want to help remove trash before it ends up in the marine environment. This program is very weather dependent. If it is raining or if the wind picks up, people are encouraged to call the Seaside Aquarium at 503-738-6211 to see if the program is running.

Photos provided by Seaside Aquarium


For 26 years the Seaside Beach Discovery Program has invited summer visitors to learn about, and talk about, the natural world they have come to explore. Young and old alike are delighted with the personal attention, hands on displays, old photos, and great discussions that ensue.

Staff members use several interactive displays. We have a wave table to springboard talks about various kinds of waves, sand transport, seasonal changes, change over time, and tsunamis. Our microscopes show diverse creatures including plant and animal plankton, leading us to discuss all of earth’s dependence on these huge varieties of tiny creatures. The giant magnets and a sand drop tube lead to discussions about our local sand. We also have sands from around the world, changing people’s notion of what sand actually is and how ocean creatures choose their beach depending on the topography available. We have many historical photos to help people compare human and geological change over time. We add shells and other tideline discoveries to reinforce the idea that changing geology and an ever-changing ocean can lead to important changes for people, plants, and animals. One popular display in the form of a signpost points out that people are not our only tourists, and that many of these swimming or flying animals make enormous journeys round trip every year. We use instruments such as tide tables, wind gauges, thermometers, and a salinity gauge to compare daily, and sometimes hourly, changes to a seemingly static beach. These lead to displays about beach safety, verbal talks about gravity, the moon and tides, sand movement, upwelling, rip currents, and the food chain. All of this helps to spark discussions that lead to helping people see the interconnectivity of sand, the water, the air, the plants and animals, the earth, and the moon; and humans’ relationships to that process.

Every morning before the program officially opens, staff members record the wind speed, air and ocean temperature, ocean salinity, and tide data. Then they collect samples of plankton and tiny critters along the ocean’s edge and note anything unusual for the day. Wide-ranging discussions occur daily with a steady flow of information, questions, and ponderings that keep our displays fresh and evolving. Some visitors stop and are gone in under five minutes. Many stay half an hour to an hour. We hear nearly every day from people who have visited in prior years or plan their yearly vacation around our summer schedule.

The Seaside Beach Discovery Program is a free program which sets up on the beach in front of the Seaside Aquarium. It runs on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. July through August. The program is weather dependent, so you may want to check with us before heading down.