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Discovering Marine Discovery Tours

Category: General Article

Back to Newport and Vicinity

GPS Coordinates to Marine Discovery Tours: 44.6290125, -124.054073

Reporting: Cassidy Dubois, Josh Heisler, Jeremy Shaffer and Russell Stone, Oceanscape Network Youth Correspondents

For nearly a quarter of a century, Marine Discovery Tours (MDT) has been treating visitors to the beauty of the Oregon coast and the excitement of discovery. MDT has a strong educational philosophy that combines entertainment with hands-on science activities such as plankton studies, bird and whale identification, handling live crabs and wheelhouse technology.

Fran Mathews started the business with her husband Don after working for many years as a fisheries journalist. It was Fran’s love of finding and telling stories that inspired MDT’s unique vision, coupled with Don’s Bering Sea to San Francisco fisheries experience.

“We love to focus on our very special resources here on the Oregon coast,” she told us during an interview at her office in Newport, Oregon. “The main things our staff love to offer are stories. Lots and lots of great stories that concern the animals in our area; our coastal culture from our deep water fisheries to recreational activities for visitors; to just getting right down to the micro level like scooping up plankton in nets.”

MDT offers a variety of cruise experiences. Although most journey into the open ocean, sometimes their 65-foot vessel DISCOVERY will take a more leisurely journey through the expansive 4,000 acre Yaquina Bay where the onboard naturalists focus on birds and other animals common to estuaries.

It is not uncommon for guests to spot harbor seals, California sea lions and a variety of marine birds. Ocean cruises may provide a look at tiny harbor porpoises or massive gray whales (if you sail during March through September). See Whale Watching Spoken Here for more information on spotting whales on the Oregon coast.

During our cruise, we saw a black-tail deer swimming across the river — something even the onboard naturalists had never witnessed before. (See our video for footage of this!)

Fran told us that guests come from all over the world and many are Oregon students here to study the ocean. The MDT cruise is often taken to compliment other ocean-based programs at either the Hatfield Marine Science Center or the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Although each cruise is different, Fran told us that students have been very consistent over the years about the parts they love most.

“The resounding thing that comes back to us is that the students love handling the live animals, they love driving the boat and they love the experience of being on the ocean and feeling its movement,” Fran smiled.

“The thing that’s most exciting for me as a marine educator and as a journalist is being a part of other peoples’ adventures here on the coast,” Fran added. “We love being stewards of our beautiful area. We’re inviting you to join us, we’re inviting you to experience it, and we’re inviting you to take some wonderful memories home with you.”

To find more information on MDT, click here.

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