What’s fresh at the Oregon coast?

Buying tuna on an Oregon dockPlanning a visit to the Oregon coast? Tuck our “What’s Fresh and When?” flyer into your cooler so you know what kind of seafood you’re likely to find at local markets, restaurants – and on the docks.

Compiled by Oregon Sea Grant’s Newport-based fisheries specialist, Kaety Hildenbrand, the annual guide lists commercial fishing season dates for all major species caught in Oregon waters:  chinook and coho salmon, Pacific halibut, Dungeness crab, Albacore tuna, and pink shrimp – as well as a reminder that flounder, sole, rockfish and lingcod are available throughout the year.

Fishermen in Newport and several other Oregon ports sell their catch, iced at sea, right off the boat; local seafood can also be found at fish markets and local groceries, and many coastal restaurants.


Oyster shells help restore chemical balance to acid waters

Healthy young oyster spatThe shells of oysters – a commercially important shellfish whose reproduction and growth is threatened by climate-linked ocean acidification – may help counteract the effects of increased local acidity levels, according to a new study of New England’s Chesapeake Bay by a team of researchers led by Oregon State University’s George Waldbusser.

The study, published in the journal Ecology and reported this week in the New York Times , concludes that the buildup of old shells in undisturbed oyster beds – along with the oysters’ waste – can help restore alkalinity to waters that might otherwise be too acid for the shellfish to survive.

Like ocean waters around the world, the Chesapeake has become more and more acidic as a result of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Now, by studying oyster populations in relation to acidity levels,Waldbusser’s team has concluded that oysters — particularly their shells — can play a significant role in reducing that acidity.

“Oyster shells are made out of calcium carbonate, so they’re sort of like an antacid pill,” said Waldbusser, an assistant professor of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences at OSU and an author of the study. “In an undisturbed oyster reef, healthy oysters are generating a lot of biodeposits,” a genteel term for excrement, “which helps generate CO2 to help break down those shells, which helps to regenerate the alkalinity back into the environment.”

Ocean acidification is of great concern to commercial oyster growers. Additional  research by Waldbusser and colleague Burke Hales, conducted at an Oregon oyster hatchery, has shown that increasing acidity near commercial shellfish operations inhibits the larval oysters from developing shells and growing at a pace that makes oyster farming economically viable.

Waldbusser is also working on a Sea Grant-funded project to develop Web-based tools that would allow oyster growers and resource managers to better understand how acidification affects larval oysters so they can more effectively adapt, mitigate and adjust their operations to increase oyster survival and growth.

Learn more:

“Firewood Buddy” mobile app goes national

Firewood Buddy“Firewood Buddy,” a smart-phone application developed by Oregon Sea Grant to inform campers about the risks of bring invasive insects into Oregon forests on imported firewood, is going national.

Developed last year in collaboration with the Oregon Invasive Species Council, the free application not only educates users about how potentially invasive, forest-damaging species can hitch rides on firewood brought to campsites from outside areas, but also includes links to local firewood vendors on the Oregon coast and in Washington, Idaho and northern California. The app also features tips about the burning characteristics of different kinds of wood, building campfires, camping checklists and other information.

This week, the council announced that the application has migrated to DontMoveFirewood.org for national use and distribution. The state of California and the Bureau of Land Management will soon begin downloading lists of firewood vendors to the application, and plans are to continue expanding the database to cover all regions of the US.

The new national application is expected to be added to the iPhone and Android app  stores in time for Memorial Day weekend. The original  version covering Oregon, Washington and northern California, meanwhile, remains available (see links below) for free download.

Sam Chan, Oregon Sea Grant’s invasive species specialist, called the expansion timely. “The Memorial Day weekend is typically the start of a busy camping season,” Chan said. “One of the most important things we can do to protect our forests and landscapes from damage caused by invasive pests and diseases that hitchhike on firewood is to not move firewood to new areas.

“It’s really that simple: Don’t move firewood. Buy it local, and burn it local.”

The mobile application resulted from a 2009-11 research and education campaign Sea Grant undertook with invasive species councils in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. A joint “buy it where you burn it” education campaign ensued to encourage people not to buy or gather firewood near their campouts, picnics and other outdoor activities rather than bringing it along from elsewhere. Surveys before and after the campaign showed that, while nearly 40% of campers surveyed said they regularly brought firewood with them from outside the area, two-thirds of those who’d seen the educational material said they would change their behavior, including buying firewood locally. The research and education project was funded by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the application is being incorporated into a growing set of resources and tools by the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, a public-private partnership covering Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.

Download the original Firewood Buddy

Oregon Sea Grant publication wins Gold Award

An Oregon Sea Grant publication, Mental Models Interviewing for More-Effective Communication, has won a Gold Award in the “Publications/Handbook” category of the 2013 Hermes Creative Awards.

Hermes Creative Awards is an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing, and design of traditional and emerging media. Administered by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals (www.amcpros.com), the Hermes Creative Awards were created to recognize outstanding work in the industry. Judges are industry professionals who look for companies and individuals whose talent exceeds a high standard of excellence and whose work serves as a benchmark for the industry.Mental-Models-Interviewing-cover

There were about 5,600 entries from the U.S. and throughout the world in this year’s competition, with about 19 percent of entries receiving Gold Awards.

Written by Joe Cone and Kirsten Winters, Mental Models Interviewing is intended to help professionals such as agency officials, university outreach/extension specialists, and social science researchers interview more effectively by answering the questions “What am I listening for?” and “How am I listening?” It’s one of several publications in Oregon Sea Grant Communications’ “Public Science Communication Research & Practice” series. You can find it online here.


State bill would require wave energy companies to recover their own gear

NNMREC Newport test site and buoysSALEM – The Oregon Senate voted Monday to require that companies experimenting with wave energy in Oregon’s territorial waters show they have enough money to recover their equipment when they’re done with it.

The bill’s sponsors say they don’t want the state to be stuck for the cost of removing such gear if it breaks loose, sinks or outlasts its useful life.

The Department of Energy-funded Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC), based at Oregon State University, is operating a testing facility for commercial wave energy devices off the coast of Newport, an area also slated to be home to the nation’s first utility-scale, grid-connected wave energy test site, the Pacific Marine Energy Center.

Bend Science Pub to feature OSG invasive species educator

Science PubBEND – Oregon Sea Grant’s invasive species specialist, Sam Chan, is the featured speaker for the OSU Cascades Science Pub event on Tuesday, May 21 at McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend. The informal event runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m and features a full pub menu and no-host bar.

Chan, a Sea Grant Extension specialist and biologist with the OSU Institute for Water and Watersheds, will talk about how invasive species arrive in Oregon via land, air and sea, and can cause serious harm to our economy and environment.  Learn how these invaders arrive in ways we would never anticipate – through innocent classroom projects, gardening, and on floating tsunami debris – and what you can do to prevent and minimize their impact.  Chan’s research guided the creation of the award-winning statewide “Silent Invasion” program.

Use this online form to reserve a seat for Hitchhikers from Afar: Aquatic Invasive Species & You. Science Pubs are free but due to their popularity, reservations are required no later than 5:00 p.m. the day prior to each lecture.