Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars Program is open for applications

Applications due April 19, 2013 for the Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars program for undergraduates. The program places students in natural resource management agencies and is designed to help prepare undergraduate students for graduate school and careers in marine science, policy, management, and outreach.

Read more at http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/fellowships/summer-scholars

To learn more about the Summer Scholars experience, visit our Sea Grant Scholars blog.

Researchers test new excluder device to reduce halibut bycatch

OSU researchers working with the groundfish fishing industry in the Pacific Northwest have tested a new “flexible sorting grid excluder” – a type of bycatch reduction device that shows promise to significantly reduce the incidental bycatch of Pacific halibut from commercial bottom trawl fishermen. In a series of tests that included 30 tows off the Washington coast, commercial fishermen were able to reduce the number of halibut taken as bycatch by 57 percent, while retaining 84 percent of the targeted groundfishes, according to Mark Lomeli of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, a multi-state agency charged with sustainably managing Pacific Ocean resources. The findings are being published in the journal Fisheries Research.
Incidental bycatch is a significant issue in many coastal regions including the Pacific Northwest. It occurs when fishing operations result in the discard of non-targeted fish and invertebrates, or through accidental interactions with mammals, seabirds and sea turtles. It is of particular concern, resource managers say, when these “bycaught” species are overfished, threatened or endangered.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-03-bycatch-groundfish-trawling.html#jCp

Japan Times: Washed-up dock stirs awareness in Oregon

NEWPORT  – When a massive dock drifted across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to the U.S. West Coast after the Great East Japan Earthquake, it brought along more than the invasive “wakame” kelp and mussels that were attached to it. The city of Newport, Oregon, where the docked beached itself last June, noticed the high interest it was generating and put it to good use.

Oregon Sea Grant’s Mark Farley, manager of the Visitor Center at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, describes how a piece of a 20-meter, 100-ton concrete and metal dock, ripped from its moorings in Misawa, Japan by the devasting 2011 earthquake and tsunami and deposited over a year later on the Oregon coast, is serving as a tool to educate visitors and coastal residents about our own risks of disaster.

Read the complete story in the KYODO/Japan Times

Spring Break brings Whale Watch Week to Oregon coast

Gray Whale - photo courtesy of M. SpieringSpring Whale Watch Week coincides with spring break for most Oregon schools and universities, and that makes March 23-30 a great time to head for the coast and look for whales.

Hundreds of giant gray whales, including females and their new calves, travel past Oregon on their way to their spring and summer feeding grounds off Alaska. Many come fairly close to shore, and it’s not unusual to see their spouts – and sometimes the animals themselves – as they swim northward.

OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm during Whale Watch Week, with special marine mammal programs and activities.

Trained volunteers will be stationed at prime whale-watching spots in coastal parks to help visitors learn how to spot the animals, and to share what they know about their life history, biology and migratory habits. Look for the “Whale Watching Spoken Here” signs.

Learn more:

  • Whalespoken.org, the official Oregon Parks & Recreation whale-watch site, includes maps showing the best whale viewing areas along the coast.
  • Free .pdf downloads of Oregon Sea Grant’s popular Gray Whales brochure, in English and Spanish versions.
  • Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute, a multidisciplinary program dedicated to the study of whales and other marine mammals.

Science: Nation’s research fleet declines as needs increase

Science magazine reports on the declining state of the US marine research fleet:

“Fewer scientists are going to sea as a result of a shrinking science fleet, flat budgets, and skyrocketing costs. At the same time, oceanographers are using a growing array of high-tech devices—such as satellites, gliders, and vast networks of sensors tethered to the sea floor—to remotely collect more data than ever before without getting wet.”

The article looks in depth at the state of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) fleet, operated by a consortium of 62 universities and government laboratories including Oregon State University, and finds its vessels aging, being retired and not being replaced.

In January, the National Science Foundation named OSU the lead institution on  a project to finalize the design and coordinate the construction of as many as three new coastal research vessels to bolster the marine science research capabilities of the United States.

OSU is slated to receive nearly $3 million to coordinate the design phase of the project – but actual construction of the new ships depends on Congress appropriating funds to build them, at a cost estimated at  $290 million over 10 years. The final number constructed, and the geographic positioning of these vessels, will be determined by the National Science Foundation based on geographic scientific requirements and availability of funding.

The Science article, meanwhile, notes that some existing research vessels are spending more time in port, as rising operation costs and funding cutbacks make it difficult for scientists to pay for the at-sea time they need. At the same time, technological advances are providing new tools that allow researchers like OSU’s Kipp Shearman – cited in the article for his pioneering use of remotely controlled robotic “gliders” to gather data that once would have required them to spend weeks at sea.

Read the entire article at Science OnLine

Science on Tap: Dan Bottom on sustaining salmon

Dan BottomNEWPORT – Dan Bottom, fisheries biologist with NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, steps up to the bar to talk about salmon at the next Science on Tap event on March 13 at Brewer’s on the Bay.

“Celebrating Diversity: Sustaining Pacific Salmon in a Changing World” is Bottom’s theme for the evening, which takes place in the downstairs Board room at Rogue Ale’s South Beach waterfront location. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the talk begins at 6; the event is free and open to the public. Appetizers will be served, and additional food and drinks available for purchase from the menu.

Bottom, editor and contributing author for Oregon Sea Grant’s 2011 book Pathways to Resilience: Sustaining Pacific Salmon in a Changing World, will discuss the importance of salmon diversity and the attributes of resilience. His talk will draw from the book’s 11 peer-reviewed articles, including case studies of salmon and salmon fisheries, and will explore management actions that draw on salmon life history and genetic diversity to maintain salmon populations into the future.

Bottom notes, “Salmon exhibit a wide variety of life history traits. These include salmon runs and populations that exhibit differences in migration timing, duration of estuary rearing and size when the salmon enter the ocean.” Healthy, diverse watersheds, says Bottom, provide habitat connections that not only sustain diverse salmon life histories but also provide diverse social and economic opportunities for people.

The 392-page, full-color book, with a prologue by Governor John Kitzhaber, will be available at the event for purchase and author signing. It can also be purchased online from Oregon Sea Grant.

Science on Tap is a regular program of OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, co-sponsored by Oregon Sea Grant, NOAA, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, MidCoast Watersheds Council, Native Fish Society, and The Wetlands Conservancy. For more information about the event, call 541-867-0234.

Register now for the Free-Choice Learning Professional Certificate

Registration is now open for the Free-Choice Learning Professional Certificate, an online program offered by Oregon State University.

The program helps museum, zoo, aquarium, and science outreach professionals and volunteers discover more about free-choice learning, the study of what, where, and how we choose to learn over the course of our lifetimes.

Courses are taught by experienced Oregon State faculty and researchers Lynn Dierking, Sea Grant professor and interim associate dean for research in the OSU College of Education; John H. Falk, Sea Grant professor and interim director of the Center for Research in Lifelong STEM Learning; Shawn Rowe, marine education and learning specialist at Oregon Sea Grant Extension; and Jennifer Bachman, instructor and Free-Choice Learning program coordinator.

To learn more about this and other OSU Professional and Noncredit Education certificate programs, visit https://pne.oregonstate.edu/certificates.

West Coast Sea Grant programs offer social science grant opportunities

Sea Grant programs in Oregon, Washington and California are inviting regional research proposals that address topics of social science and human dimensions related to Sea Grant’s national goals for

  • Healthy coasts and oceans
  • Safe and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
  • Resilient coastal communities and economies
  • Environmental literacy and workforce development.

The hope is to attract a wide range of social scientists – economists, anthropologists, geographers, community planners, political scientists, psychologists, sociologists, learning scientists, historians, communications and decision scientists –  to explore some important aspect of human interaction within coastal and marine ecosystems.

Oregon Sea Grant, Washington Sea Grant, California Sea Grant and University of Southern California Sea Grant have pooled their resources to commit a total of $700,000 (subject to available funds) to support between two and four regional projects for 2014-2016.  Projects must be regional in scope and research teams must be made up of investigators from at least two institutions of higher education within the three-state region.

Projects will be selected through an open, competitive, peer-review process. The deadline for pre-proposal applications – which must be made through California Sea Grant – is 11:59 pm PDT, April 1, 2013.

For full information, and to learn how to submit preproposals, visit the California Sea Grant Website.

Tsunami dock piece to be dedicated March 10

Cleaning the tsunami dock (Photo: OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center)NEWPORT – A new tsunami awareness exhibit, featuring a piece of the massive Japanese dock that washed ashore at Agate beach last year, will be dedicated at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in a public ceremony and grand opening on Sunday, March 10.

The public ceremony, which runs from 2-4 pm,  marks the two-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit northern Japan. Sponsors include Oregon Sea Grant, the HMSC and the City of Newport.

The dock was among the first – and largest – fragments of debris to wash up on Pacific Northwest shores more than a year after the magnitude 9.03 undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011. The dock’s arrival on Agate Beach last June, sparked concern over the potential spread of non-native plants and marine animals, thousands of which were found alive and clinging to the dock.

Teams of state Parks and Recreation workers, scientists and volunteers scoured the dock’s surface and scorched it with blow-torches to destroy the organisms – and also collected specimens for identification and analysis by researchers at the HMSC.

The dock, roughly the size of a railroad boxcar and weighing tons, was sawn into pieces for disposal, and one section was saved to be placed at the Hatfield Center as a memorial to the Japanese disaster – and to aid in educating visitors about the risks of similar tsunamis generated by subduction zone quakes off the Oregon coast.  On initial delivery, however, the concrete-and-steel segment was discovered to be too big for its site, and was hauled to the Port of Newport docks to be recut to fit the space.

Learn more