There’s one place in Oregon that scuba divers are guaranteed clear water and plenty of fish with every dive — the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. OREGON FIELD GUIDE follows several volunteer divers as they clean and maintain the large exhibits. See how these divers are fascinating aquarium visitors as much as the fish, in a program airing Thursday, December 17 at 8:30pm on Oregon Public Broadcasting. FIELD GUIDE also looks at the largely unknown pacific lamprey, goes to a special track meet and concludes with a beautiful photo essay of Cascade Head.

Aquarium Divers — While there are no waves or currents in the large exhibition tanks at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, it’s still a challenging environment in which to dive. It can be unsettling when the sharks start to circle, a curious perch continually bumps your mask or an octopus wraps its arms around your head. But the 100 or so certified scuba volunteers don’t mind performing housekeeping chores such as underwater vacuuming and window washing. But they’re more than underwater janitors. They also take note of the animals’ general behavior and health and report any concerns to the aquarists. Produced by Eric Cain.

Pacific Lamprey — In the picturesque waters of Cedar Creek in southwest Washington an unlovely animal exists under our noses yet almost always out of sight. The pacific lamprey, native to the Northwest, is so primitive that it’s among the earliest species in fossil records. Although it’s been around for 350 million years, it has been largely ignored and one of the least-studied aquatic species. Recent data suggests the pacific lamprey population is declining, possibly catastrophically. Producer Jim Newman accompanies a researcher from U.S. Fish and Wildlife as he attempts to capture and tag lampreys to study the largely unknown risks they face.

Special Track Meet — Steve Amen takes us to a special track meet that isn’t about coming in first – it’s about making it across the finish line against all odds. Whether it’s ball throwing, running, jumping or a wheelchair race, the kids participating in the Clackamas County Education Service District School Day Track Meet are all winners. The meet used to be run by Special Olympics, but when they ran out of money a couple of years ago, Clackamas County ESD took it over. It was slated to be cut with the budget cuts this year, but a group of dedicated staff went to work to raise money to keep it going. If you like lots of enthusiasm, smiles, hugs and good feelings, you don’t want to miss this.

Photo Essay – Cascade Head photo essay by Nick Fisher.

FIELD GUIDE repeats Sundays at 1:30am and 6:30pm. Videos of the stories featured on FIELD GUIDE can be viewed online immediately following the broadcast at

In its 21st season, OREGON FIELD GUIDE remains a valuable source of information about outdoor recreation, ecological issues, natural resources and travel destinations. OREGON FIELD GUIDE airs Thursday evenings at 8:30pm on the television stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting and repeats on Sunday evenings at 6:30pm. In the Mountain Time zone of Eastern Oregon, the program airs at 9:30pm Thursdays, and at 7:30pm Sundays.

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