Coastal Waters

coastal-watersThe “At the Jetty” exhibit spotlights survival issues of coho and chinook salmon, explaining their life cycle and their tremendous journey from streams to the ocean and back again. Extending into the Aquarium’s courtyard with a large wall-to-wall viewing window, the 35,000-gallon exhibit is one of the Aquarium’s larger indoor displays.

Made up of impressive basalt boulders, the exhibit replicates the habitat of the Yaquina Bay jetties, between which salmon must pass on their annual migrations. Large white sturgeons are also featured. Considered ancient fish, sturgeons have been around for some 200 million years. They can live as long as 100 years and can reach lengths of 20 feet. Aquarium visitors enjoy watching these gentle giants poke around the sandy bottom in search of food. The “At the Jetty” exhibit was made possible through the generous support of Spirit Mountain Community Fund and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.

Coastal Waters also houses a moon jelly exhibit, which occupies an acrylic cylinder eight feet in diameter. The jellies are consistently named by visitors as one of the most popular animals at the Aquarium. A second jelly exhibit in this gallery features sea nettles. Other highlights include a 5,000-gallon kelp forest harboring offshore fishes and invertebrates and a 9,100-gallon coastal reef exhibit. The gallery holds a total of 16 exhibits.

What lives here?

Bat Star

Patiria miniata

Bat Stars have short, triangular arms, usually five in number but sometimes four to nine. Their color is extremely variable, but most are red or deep orange.


Chromis punctipinnis

The Blacksmith is a small, thick-bodied fish common to the Eastern Pacific, especially off the coast of California. Blacksmiths can be identified by their blue-black bodies with black dots that run toward the forked tail.

Blood Star

Henricia leviuscula

Blood stars are the most brightly colored sea stars in the intertidal zone. They are usually brilliant red or reddish-orange with a texture that feels similar to fine sandpaper.


Sebastes paucispinus

Bocaccio are elongated fish with large mouths and few or no spines on their head. They tend to be brown or reddish-brown on the back, pink or brown on the sides and silvery on the bellies.

California Moray Eel

Gymnothorax mordax

The morays comprise about 120 species, all living in the tropical and subtropical seas. They usually grow to be about three feet long, with the largest moray (which is also the largest eel) reaching about 10 feet in length.

Chinook Salmon

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

Chinook salmon is the official fish of Oregon and is well-known due to the important role they play in the state’s economy and history.

Filetail Catshark

Parmaturus xaniurus

This is a small (usually less than 2 feet or 55 cm in length) sleek-looking fish. Catsharks get their name from the way their eyes glow when reflecting light – like a cat’s eyes.

Garibaldi Damselfish

Hypsypops rubicundus

This beautiful fish is named after Giuseppe Garibaldi, a Nineteenth century Italian revolutionary who, along with his followers, was famous for wearing a bright red shirt.

Horn Shark

Heterodontus francisci

Horn Sharks are a small species related to the Bullhead Shark. A typical specimen rarely exceeds 3 feet (1 meter) in length and is generally docile by nature unless antagonized.

Japanese Spider Crab

Macrocheira kaemferi

As the name may suggest, the Japanese Spider Crab is not a native to Oregon coastal waters but rather lives at the western end of the Pacific Ocean.

Leaf Barnacle

Pollicipes polymerus

The Leaf Barnacle is identifiable from other members of its species because the capitulum (top of the stalk) is covered with at least five cream-colored plates and surrounded by several whorls of overlapping scales.

Leather Star

Dermasterias imbricata

Leather stars usually have five wide arms surrounding a large, high disc. Their upper surface is blue-gray, mottled with red and orange. The star’s texture is smooth and slippery to the touch, somewhat like wet leather.

Moon Jellyfish

Aurelia aurita

At first glance, jellyfish may be so alien-looking to the human eye that it is hard for us to even think of them as animals. Jellyfish (or "jellies" for short) are an exceptionally old species.

Pacific Hagfish

Eptatretus stoutii

Hagfish have elongated, eel-like bodies, and paddle-like tails. They have cartilaginous skulls and tooth-like structures composed of keratin.

Pacific Sea Nettle

Chrysaora fuscescens

Perhaps one of the most popular habitats in the gallery, the large Sea Nettle jellyfish seem to have the ability to hypnotize us with their rhythmic undulations and the graceful spread of their lacy tentacles.

Proliferating Anemone

Epiactis prolifera

The Proliferating Anemone has a short body with radiating white lines on the oral disc and longitudinal grooves on the column. The base is usually larger in diameter than the column.

Red Sea Urchin

Strongylocentrotus franciscanus

Red Sea Urchins can range in color from pink to deep red to purple. These large urchins have long, straight, smooth spines.


Oxyjulis californica

Senoritas are beautiful, cigar-shaped fish common offshore to California. Although they do not occur in Oregon waters, they can be seen in the California Kelp Forest exhibit in our Coastal Waters gallery.

Spot Prawn

Pandalus platyceros

There are thousands of shrimp species worldwide. Most of them are marine and live close to the bottom or swim in midwater regions of the ocean. Some species live in estuaries, rivers and lakes. None are found on land.

Spotted Ratfish

Hydrolagus colliei

Spotted Ratfish are a cartilaginous fish distantly related to sharks. This is probably one of the most visually striking fish at the Aquarium.

Sunflower Star

Pycnopodia helianthoides

The Sunflower Star is related to sea stars, sea urchins and sand dollars. This unusual animal begins life with five or six arms and adds more (up to 24) with age.