Hatfield Marine Science Center. Image Source.

Newport is one of the seven major cities located on Oregon’s Central Coast. With a population of about 10,400, Newport is the largest of the seven. Newport can be found between the Pacific Ocean, the Coast Mountains, and Yaquina Bay. This unique location not only provides a ton of natural beauty but also allows for plenty of outdoor recreation activities, like fishing and kayaking.

In the past, Newport’s economy was built on the Bayfront, a port that housed the commercial fishing and timber industries. Even today, Bayfront still holds one of the largest commercial fishing fleets in Oregon. As time has progressed, tourism has begun to play a more significant role in Newport’s economy. The Bayfront is now a working waterfront with a variety of attractive shops and businesses littered along the street. Visitors can enjoy cozy cafes, eye-catching art galleries, and still-running fish processing plants. Among these numerous shops and restaurants is Local Ocean, a restaurant that focuses on locally, fresh-caught seafood. It even has a seafood market component in case you plan on cooking during your stay. Newport is also home to the famous Rogue Brewery, a massive pub located just underneath the south side of the Yaquina Bay Bridge.

Lighthouse at Yaquina Head. Image Source.

Lighthouses occur all along Oregon’s coast but Newport is home to the state’s tallest and second oldest active lighthouse. Built in 1872, the 93 foot tall structure can be found at Yaquina Head, a natural area that was formed by lava flow more than 14 million years ago. Other must see attractions in Newport would be the Oregon Coast Aquarium which has some of the animals that make Oregon’s coast so special. One could even pay a visit to OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center to get a taste on how scientific research plays into our understanding of these creatures.

Pileated Woodpecker (Hylatomus pileatus)

You have probably heard a woodpecker at some point in your life, but have you been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the bird behind the noise? The Pileated Woodpecker – one of the biggest, most striking birds in North America – is a particularly beautiful sight. This black bird with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest is nearly the size of a crow. Its bill is long and chisel-like, about the length of the head.

Any forest type can sustain Pileated Woodpeckers as long as there are trees large enough for roosting and nesting, although these birds are typically found in mature and old-growth forests. These powerful woodpeckers chip out characteristic oval or rectangular excavations in the trees where they forage for their prey, including wood-boring insects and insects that nest in trees like long-horned beetles and carpenter ants. These holes can be so large that they weaken smaller trees or even cause them to break in half. The sound of the Pileated Woodpecker’s hammering carries long distances through the woods. They also drum to attract mates and to establish the boundaries of their territory. These birds roost in hollow trees with multiple entrance holes. These roosting cavities are used later by many other birds and small animals.

Shooting for sport and food was formerly a significant source of mortality for Pileated Woodpeckers; fortunately, shooting these birds is now illegal. Clear-cutting of old-growth and other forests currently has the most significant impact on Pileated Woodpecker habitat, but this species is fairly adaptable, which offsets some of the impact from habitat loss.

Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Steelhead are native to North America west of the Rockies, but this popular sport fish has been introduced in almost every other state and on every continent except Antarctica. You may be surprised to learn that steelhead and rainbow trout are the same species, but rainbow trout live only in freshwater and steelhead are anadramous, meaning they spend part of their lives in freshwater and part of their lives in the ocean. Because of their different lifestyles steelhead and rainbow trout are different in appearance, most noticeably in size and color. Rainbow trout derive their name from their beautiful, multi-hued coloration. Steelhead are generally more streamlined in shape and silvery or brassy in color as adults. Adult steelhead/rainbow trout range in size. They can reach 45 inches in length and weigh over 50 pounds, although they are usually much smaller. A typical weight is about 8 pounds. Because steelhead spend 2-3 years in freshwater followed by 2-3 years in the ocean they are typically larger than rainbow trout.

Steelhead/rainbow trout have a varied diet and will feed on just about anything, including zooplankton when they’re young and fish eggs, small fish, crustaceans, mollusks, insects, and even mice as they mature. This fish is also a food source for many different predators depending on the region and habitat. Their predators include lampreys, fish, birds, bears, river otters, raccoons, and humans. In the ocean, steelhead are eaten by many species including seals, sea lions, and orcas.

Steelhead have been called the ultimate game fish. These elusive and challenging fish can test an angler’s patience and persistence, but the reward is hooking into a fish that is famous worldwide for its line-peeling runs and spectacular, acrobatic fight.