Summer Scholar presents work at CERF

Former Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar Ian Heller traveled to Florida early this month to present a poster at the annual Coastal and Estuarine Research Foundation meeting on his Oregon research work with the US Environmental Projection Agency.

Heller, a senior at Vassar College, spent the summer of 2010 in our undergraduate Summer Scholars program, assigned to the EPA’s lab in Newport, helping collect and analyze data intended to measure   how different different estuarine wetland habitats contribute to the production of Dungeness crabs and fishes.

Read more on our Sea Grant Scholars’ blog …

Heceta Head Coastal Conference Student Poster Winners

Student poster session, Heceta Head Coastal ConferenceCongratulations to the student poster winners for the 7th Annual Heceta Head Coastal Conference

Here are the names of the winners and the titles of their posters.

Katelyn Bosley
Population Assessment of Burrowing Shrimp in Yaquina Bay, Oregon
Katelyn is a Fisheries Science student at OSU and works at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in conjuction with Brett Dumbald of the USDA and with Andrew Hill of the Biology Departmenat at Portland Community College.

Tom Calvanese
Movement Behavior of Fishes of the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve
Tom is a PhD student in Fisheries & Wildlife at Oregon State University. To learn more about Tom’s project, visit his fishtracker website.

Caitlyn Clark
Seasonal Variation in Gut Condition of Select Juvenile Flatfish Species
Caitlyn is an undergradate (REU) student working with Sarah Henkel at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Kira Treibergs
Growth and settlement of the marine bryozoan Schizoporella japonica
Kira is from the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (and co-creator of their awesome t-shirt)

King Tide project seeks photographers

February 17, 2011 King Tide at Beaver Creek/Ona Beach

Photo by Flickr user jules4oceans

If you’re a photographer spending Thanksgiving or Christmas weekend on the Oregon coast, the Oregon King Tide Photo Project would like your help.

The project seeks photographs documenting the unusually high tides known as King Tides, in an effort to better understand which areas of the coast might be most vulnerable to rising sea levels related to climate change.

This season’s King Tides are predicted to occur on Oregon shores November 24th-27th, 2011, December 23rd-25th, 2011 and January 20th-23rd, 2012.

Taking part is easy:

  1. Choose a site to photograph
  2. Pick a day and time to photograph high water levels
  3. Take the photographs, noting the location, date, time of day, and the direction you are facing as you take the picture. Data from a GPS data can be particularly valuable.
  4. Upload your photos to Oregon’s King Tide Flickr group (this requires having your own Flickr account).

The project hopes eventually to get photo-documentation of the highest tides along  accessible shorelines of all Oregon estuaries.  Most important, according to their Website, are sidewalks, parking lots, wetlands and other low-lying areas next to the shore.

Photographs should be framed to show the water level against a recognizable object or marker that will be there later, so someone can return to the post at a later date and measure the high-tide level shown in the photograph. Before-and-after pictures showing average and extreme high water levels at the same location are particularly useful.

The King Tide project is sponsored by the Climate Adaptation Planning Information System, an interagency partnership including Oregon Sea Grant, the state Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, the Oregon Coastal Zone Management Program,  the US Geologic Survey,  and multiple NOAA and NASA units. Similar projects take place in California, Washington and British Columbia.

Read more, and find predicted local times for the November King Tide, at the Oregon King Tide Photo Project Website.

PBS features OSU tsunami-proofing research

PBS Newshour’s Science Thursday looks at research occurring in Japan and the US to try to harden coastal communities against the human loss and devastation caused by powerful tsunamis. Featured research includes work being done by Dan Cox’s team at OSU’s Hinsdale Wave Research Center on potential vertical evacuation towers:


(Text transcript here)

Learn more about Sea Grant-supported tsunami research and public education

Drug Take-Back keeps old pills out of the waterways

Part of the haul at Corvallis prescription drug TakeBack Event

Part of the haul

CORVALLIS – Oregon Sea Grant Scholars have helped Corvallis  police and public works and Allied Waste  employees collect more than 550 pounds of old, unused and expired prescription drugs for safe disposal – drugs which otherwise might have wound up in the hands of abusers, or poisoning local waterways.

Student interns and research assistants who work with Sea Grant water quality specialist Sam Chan volunteered for the third National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Oct. 29, which netted more than 188 tons of unwanted or expired medications at 5,327 collection sites across the country.

The event is sponsored by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, primarily to keep drugs out of the the crime and drug abuse stream.

But the Sea Grant students were interested in different streams: The ones that receive the outflow from local sewage plants, and seepage from local landfills.

According to the Association of Clean Water Agencies in Oregon, a San Francisco study showed that nearly 40 per cent of medications purchased in that city go unused. Many get tossed in the trash or flushed down toilets, making their way into the environment where they pose both environmental and human hazards.

The student interns participated in the Corvallis event to learn about drug take-back programs as part of a Sea Grant needs-assessment that meant to guide future investments in research, outreach and public education. Pharmaceuticals are becoming a growing issue for water quality and ocean health, and are increasingly emphasized as areas of concern by Sea Grant’s parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Sea Grant Extension teamed with Corvallis Public works to inform those who dropped off medications about how proper drug disposal can protect the drinking water supply and the aquatic environment.

“It was great to be able to engage and educate people on why Sea Grant was at the event,” said Jennifer Lam, a Sea Grant professional intern. “People were interested in learning that disposing of their medication properly not only protects their families from accidental poisoning, but also prevents these drugs from affecting fish and other aquatic organisms.”


Sea Grant Scholars with Corvallis police and public works employees

Sea Grant Scholars with Corvallis police and public works employees

Oregon Coast Quests featured in Oregon Coast Today

Oregon Sea Grant’s popular “Oregon Coast Quests” are the subject of an article in the October 28, 2011, edition of the weekly newspaper Oregon Coast Today.

Interactive tsunami inundation maps online

NANOOs Tsunami Evacuation pageNew, interactive maps pinpointing how and where a tsunami might flood the Oregon and Washington coastlines – and the closest uphill evacuation spots – are online now at NANOOS, the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems.

The new Tsunami Evacuation Zone portal is a joint project of the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, Washington Department of Natural Resources, and  the NANOOS Visualization System team.

The new maps allow users to enter an address, or click on the map, and see if their location is in a danger zone. Users can create multiple places, and if they sign up for a free myNANOOS account, save their own personalized maps for future use.

The maps show areas projected to be at risk of flooding by close and distant tsunamis, and the approximate time residents would have to evacuate those areas before the waves arrive. They also show nearby areas of high ground where residents and visitors can expect to be out of the reach of the incoming water.

All low-lying coastal areas, harbors, streams, and rivers in Oregon are vulnerable to tsunami inundation.  While the waves from distant earthquakes like the one that struck Japan in March 2011 can take several hours to arrive, a sea-floor earthquake in the seismically active Cascadia Subduction Zone, just off the coast, could generate devastating waves in a matter of minutes. Undersea landslides can also generate powerful, localized tsunamis.

Recent research suggests that powerful near-shore quakes have occurred off the Oregon coast at relatively regular intervals; scientists now put the chance of a magnitude 8-9 earthquake striking the region  at 37% within the next 50 years.

The new NANOOS site is tied to NOAA’s  West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center, and displays earthquake and tsunami alerts in real time. It also contains printable PDF versions of local tsunami evacuation brochures for specific coastal communities in Oregon and Washington. The brochures are also widely available in printed form at visitor centers, motels and other locations on the coast.

A powerful nearshore earthquake could disrupt communications, including Internet service, on the coast. The site emphasizes preparing in advance:  Developing family and workplace evacuation plans, obtaining or printing out evacuation brochures, walking local evacuation routes, and figuring out how you will reconnect with family members once the immediate danger has passed.

For more information about tsunami preparedness, visit Oregon Sea Grant’s Coastal Natural Hazards page.


Climate writer/activist kicks off new OSU lecture series

CORVALLIS  -A new Oregon State University speaker series kicks off this month  with a Nov. 17 appearance by writer/activist Bill McKibben, author of the groundbreaking 1989 work “The End of Nature,” the first general audience book on global warming.

McKibben is the debut speaker in the “Discovery Lecture Series,” a project aimed at bringing prominent scientists, acclaimed writers and key policymakers to OSU to present on matters of national and international importance. The series is a project of the offices of the Provost and Vice President for Research.

McKibben will deliver the Discovery Lecture at 7 p.m. at CH2M HILL Alumni Center Ballroom on the OSU campus. The event is free and open to the public. He will also speak the following morning at the Benton County Fairgrounds as part of a “Local Foods Breakfast with Bill McKibben,” and that evening at an event hosted by the OSU Spring Creek Project.

For more details about the events and the Discovery series, visit OSU News & Research Communications.

Volunteers sought for Whale Watch Week

Gray Whale breaching (photo courtesy of NOAA)

Gray Whale breaching (photo courtesy of NOAA)

NEWPORT – If you love whales, enjoy meeting people and don’t mind spending some time outdoors on a blustery winter day, Oregon’s winter Whale Watch Week wants you.

Volunteers are being sought for training as interpreters and whale-spotting guides at state parks up and down the Oregon coast for the annual event, which takes place this year from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

Gray whales can be seen off the Oregon coast year-round, but their numbers peak during their twice-yearly migrations between feeding grounds in Alaska’s Bering Sea and calving lagoons in Baja California. The full round trip  is more than 10,000 miles (16,000 km), the longest known migration for any mammal.

During the peak of the southward migration each winter, as many as 30 whales an hour can be seen off coastal headlands and viewing areas. Gray whales can grow to 40 feet long and 70,000 pounds, and their migrations often bring them close enough to the coast to be spotted by the naked eye, if you know what to look for.

Whale Watch Weeks, started in the late 1970s by Oregon Sea Grant educators at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, has grown to a twice-yearly program administered by Oregon State Parks from its Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay. During the winter and spring weeks, as many as 450 trained volunteers take turns at two dozen of the most popular coastal whale-watch sites, helping visitors spot whales and teaching them about the lives and habits of these giant marine mammals.

Volunteer training for Winter Whale Watch Week will take place on Sat., Dec. 10 at the HMSC Visitor Center in Newport. Dr. Bruce Mate, OSU marine mammal specialist, will preside. Additional training sessions for Spring Whale Watch Week will take place in January and February.