Over the course of four years, State Representative David Gomberg worked with Dr. Bruce Mate at the Marine Mammal Institute to authorize a Coastal Playground gray whale license plate. Eventually a strategy was developed to address the new Department of Motor Vehicle requirements and the license plate, which features the image of a gray whale mother and her calf, went on sale on February 1, 2019. The plates cost $40 to order or renew, with approximately $35 of each sale going to OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute based at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.
Today there are more than 25,000 Whale Plates in Oregon and more than $1 million has come to the Marine Science Center supporting graduate students and research covering everything from porpoise communications to the effect of wind energy on whale migrations. The Hatfield Marine Science center is a research and teaching facility located in Newport, on the Yaquina Bay estuary, about one mile from the open waters of the Pacific Ocean.
It plays an integral role in programs of marine and estuarine research and instruction, as a laboratory serving resident scientists, as a base for far-ranging oceanographic studies and as a classroom for students. In addition to Oregon State researchers and students, its campus includes research activities and facilities from five different state and federal agencies.