NOAA confirms plans to move research fleet to Newport

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday affirmed its intention to move its  its fleet of Pacific research vessels from Washington state to Newport, on the central Oregon Coast.

The General Accounting Office had asked the agency to review the planned move, first announced seven months ago, after officials in Washington State objected.

NOAA issued its finding Tuesday morning, saying none of the three competing Washington sites — Bellingham, Port Angeles or Lake Union — offers a practicable alternative to Newport.  Among other things, the report addressed a major objection – that the Newport site is located a flood plain – by noting measures that will be taken to mitigate flood risk; it also notes that the Washington contenders are also situated in flood plains.  The analysis  gave all three   Washington locations lower technical ratings – and higher estimated costs – than the Port of Newport site.

The report report has a 30-day public comment period, and Washington’s Sen. Maria Cantwell vowed to continue fighting the relocation. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, however, called the report definitive.

Read more …

Read the full NOAA report (.pdf)

Spring Break is Whale Watch Week…

Gray Whale (NOAA photo)

Gray Whale (NOAA photo)

… and a great opportunity to head for  the Oregon coast and get some expert help spotting gray whales as they migrate northward to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi seas off Alaska.

OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center will be open from 10 am-5 pm daily for Whale Watch Week, March 20-27, with special whale-related programming every day.

Meanwhile, the state Parks and Recreation Divisions “Whale Spoken Here” program will have trained volunteers stationed at 26 state parks and rest areas along the coast to provide information about the giant marine mammals and help visitors spot them.

Get ready for Whale Watch week and learn more  about the whale migrations by downloading the free Oregon Sea Grant brochure, “Gray Whales,” in .pdf format:

Squid invasion! speaker at HMSC


Squid necropsy at HMSC

An expert on the  Humboldt squid will give a free, public talk on these large marine predators – which have shown up in Pacific Northwest waters in unprecedented numbers over the past year  – this Wednesday night at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport

Humboldt or jumbo  squid, Dosidicus gigas, are  most commonly found at depths of 200–700 metres (660–2,300 ft) in the central to south Pacific, from Tierra del Fuego to California.  Since the late 1990s the squid have been expanding their range, making their way in increasing numbers as far north as offshore Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. With the expansion has come increased interaction with humans, mainly divers and fishermen.

Professor William F. Gilly of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station visits the HMSC Visitor Center Wednesday, March 10,  to discuss the  behavior, physiology and ecology of Dosidicus gigas. The public presentation starts at 7 pm in the Hennings Auditorium. There is no admission charge, although donations to the support the center’s public marine education programs are encouraged.

Although reasons for the Humboldt squid’s sudden range expansion during the last decade remain mysterious, recent studies shed light on the ecology, physiology and behavior of these large predators.  They are abundant, fast-growing, short-lived, and extremely prolific. Their diet ranges from small, midwater organisms to large fish. They are powerful swimmers capable of rapid vertical and horizontal migrations. They are tolerant of environmental features, particularly temperature and oxygen. They have large brains and complex behaviors. Scientists have suggested that if one wanted to design a top predator equipped to  cope with climate change, the Humbold squid might be it.

(Professor Gilly’s lab has resources for teachers, parents and students at  Squids For Kids)

OSG scholar writes about wave energy, law

Former Oregon Sea Grant scholar Holly V. Campbell has an article exploring the legal implications of wave energy development in the winter 2010 issue of the Sea Grant Law & Policy Journal, published by the National Sea Grant Law Center at the University of Mississippi.

Campbell’s article, “A Rising Tide: Wave Energy in the United States and Scotland,” compares and contrasts the two countries’ legal policy and permitting environments for the development of  wave energy, an emerging renewable energy technology that uses the power of ocean waves and to generate electricity.

The journal, and Campbell’s article, are available online at

Campbell, a PhD candidate in environmental science at Oregon State University’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, holds law degrees from the University of Oregon and the University of Utah.

In 2007, she was among Oregon Sea Grant’s Legislative Fellows, graduate students assigned to work with coastal lawmakers and learn about marine policy-making. She has also worked with Sea Grant Extension sociologist Flaxen D. Conway on a grant-funded project, “The Human Dimensions of Wave Energy,” where her assignment was to examine the legal and institutional framework surrounding wave energy development. And she has assisted Michael Harte, head of OSU’s Marine Resource Management program and Sea Grant’s climate change specialist, on several projects.

Read more about the Sea Grant Scholars program for graduate and undergraduate students.

Oregon Sea Grant’s Pat Corcoran quoted in NY Times article on tsunamis

Pat Corcoran, hazards outreach specialist for Oregon Sea Grant, was quoted in an article that appeared in the February 28, 2010, NY Times, “Chilean Quake a Warning to U.S. Northwest“:

“The release of pressure between two overlapping tectonic plates along the subduction zone regularly generates massive 9.0 magnitude earthquakes –- including five over the last 1,400 years. The last ‘Big One’ was 309 years ago. We are in a geologic time when we can expect another ‘Big One,’ either in our lives or those of our children. Prudence dictates that we overcome our human tendencies to ignore this inevitability.”

He was also quoted extensively in an Associated Press article appearing in the Feb. 27 Seattle Post-Intelligencer, among other places. (“Tsunami barely registers in Pacific Northwest“).

Corcoran appears in an Oregon Sea Grant video about tsunami preparedness called Three Things You Need to Know. You can view the 3-minute video here. Oregon Sea Grant also has a 14-minute video about tsunami preparedness called Reaching Higher Ground. Watch it here.