Dozens of different species of marine mammals can be found off Oregon’s Coast. Perhaps one of the most distinctive to make its way on shore is the Northern Elephant Seal, the largest pinniped carnivore that occurs along the North Pacific Coast.
This animal gets its name from its size as well as the trunk-like “nose” – known as a proboscis – that is found on males and can be inflated to enhance vocalizations during mating season. Adult female elephant seals can weigh up to 1,700 pounds, and adult males can weigh up to 5,000 pounds!
Unlike other mammals, including humans, that shed hair year-round, elephant seals experience this a one time a year ‘molting.’ They come ashore to shed their first layer of skin and fur. The skin and fur come off in sheets as new skin and fur replace the old.
For a period of time, elephant seals were thought to be extinct after they were killed in large numbers for their blubber. A small group survived off the coast of Mexico.
Thanks to protections in Mexico and the United States, scientists believe there are around 170,000 northern elephant seals today.
Elephant seals do not generally breed in Oregon, but visitors to the South Coast may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of one at Cape Arago State Park (near Coos Bay), the only location where elephant seals haul out year round in Oregon.
The past five months have passed quickly and my internship with Oregon Sea Grant/OSU Extension is coming to a close. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to learn more about tourism and business development on the South Coast, and I look forward to utilizing my new knowledge and skills after I graduate from the Master of Public Policy program at OSU next month.
I want to take this opportunity to highlight a few of the projects I’ve worked on as an intern and share some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned.
One of my primary tasks during my internship was to compose several fact sheets on issues related to tourism and outdoor recreation development on the South Coast. This included fact sheets about Agritourism in Oregon’s Coastal Counties, Transient Lodging Taxes on the Oregon Coast, and the Impact of Tourism & Outdoor Recreation on Oregon’s Economic Landscape. Through researching these topics I learned about how state and local policies intersect with tourism and outdoor recreation development efforts at the local level. There is a surprising amount of variability among local governments as it concerns tourism-related policies, which means that trying to sort through the specific requirements to develop or expand tourism operations can be a complicated process. For this reason, I think it’s really valuable that there are people like Miles in positions with OSU Extension/Oregon Sea Grant who can provide education and training for community members who might be interested in getting involved in this area to improve our overall economy.
As an intern I also had the opportunity to participate in the Southern Oregon Coast Rural Tourism Studio presented by Travel Oregon. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the potential for additional tourism and outdoor recreation development in this region, and to learn about the tools and resources provided by organizations including Travel Oregon and the Oregon Coast Visitor’s Association. We have an abundance of natural assets in our region and I am excited to see what projects develop out of the Rural Tourism Studio process.
Finally, I spent a significant amount of time researching and writing new material for this tourism blog. Entries included announcements about upcoming training and education opportunities, brief posts about plant and animal life on the Oregon Coast that tourism providers can share with their guests, and links to valuable resources for those working in tourism on the Oregon Coast. This is also where you can find links to the documents I helped create during my time as an intern.
I am thankful for the opportunity to spend the last five months as an intern working on a variety of challenging, yet interesting, projects. In addition to learning more about the tourism and outdoor recreation industry, I was able to learn a great deal more about the services provided by OSU Extension and Oregon Sea Grant that can be utilized in partnership with local individuals, businesses, and organizations to bolster coastal communities. I look forward to carrying these, and many more, lessons with me into the future.
We are excited to share a new publication from Oregon Sea Grant, “Agritourism in Oregon’s Coastal Counties: Land use policy and permitting requirements.” This document provides guidance for coastal farmers considering agritourism as a way to enhance or expand their business.
The publication summarizes the agritourism land use policy and permitting requirements for farm use, farm stands, home occupation, agritourism events and wineries, and provides contact information for Oregon coastal county planning departments, as well as online resources for additional information.
You may download a free PDF of the four-page publication here.
Associate Professor - Tourism and Business Development
College of Forest Ecosystems & Society
Oregon State University Extension - Oregon Sea Grant
Equal Opportunity/Accessibility https://extension.oregonstate.edu/equal-opportunity-accessibility