“Stranded” seal pups probably aren’t

Seal pups rest on shoreNEWPORT – Around this time each year, many baby seal pups find their way to Oregon’s beaches … and each year, well-meaning people  put the young animals in danger by trying to “rescue” them.

The word from the experts: Keep your distance, keep your dogs on leash – and whatever you do, don’t touch. The pups are simply waiting for their mothers to return from hunting for food.

“It is perfectly normal for seal pups to be left alone on the beach in the spring,” said Oregon State University biologist Jim, who coordinates the statewide Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network headquartered at OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. “Newborn pups typically spend several hours each day waiting for their mothers to reunite with them.”

“Adult female seals spend most of their time in the water, hunting for food, and only come ashore periodically to nurse their pups,” Rice said. “But the mothers are wary of people and unlikely to rejoin a pup if there is activity nearby.”

Rice urges beach goers to stay at least 50 yards from any pup they spot on the beach – and to make sure children and dogs do, too. Approaching the young animals can cause life-threatening stress, and will almost certainly keep their mothers from rejoining them.

Harbor seals on the Oregon coast give birth from March through June, with a peak in mid-May, and authorities have grown accustomed to reports of “stranded” baby seals as more summer visitors come to the coast. Such reports are unnecessary unless an animal appears to be injured or in distress – or if you spot someone bothering or harassing the animals. In such cases, Rice urges a call to the Oregon State Police at 1-800-452-7888, Rice said.

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, people harrassing these animals – even out of a misplaced desire to help – risk being fined. The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits interference with seal pups and other marine mammals on the beach.

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Field guide helps you identify aquatic invaders

Oregon Sea Grant is pleased to announce the release of its latest field guide, On the Lookout for Aquatic Invaders: Identification Guide for the West. The guide is an updated, revised, and expanded edition of its popular predecessor, which covered aquatic invasives in the Northwest only.On-the-Lookout-cover

Nonnative species are altering freshwater and marine ecosystems in the West, and more species are introduced every year.

This identification guide was developed to help watershed councils and other community-based groups increase their understanding of aquatic invasive species, and to initiate monitoring efforts for species of particular concern to their watersheds.

The introduction provides an overview of activities that can spread invasive species, a look at their economic impacts, and suggestions for ways we can work together to prevent and control their spread. The rest of the book covers background information and key identification characteristics of many aquatic invaders that are already established or likely to become established in the West, and tells where to access additional experts and how to report sightings of invasive species.

The 92-page guide is lavishly illustrated with full-color photographs to aid identification, is coil bound to lie flat when opened, and has a laminated cover for water resistance.

On the Lookout for Aquatic Invaders is available for just $8.95 per copy, plus $4.50 for shipping and handling. You can order it here.

As boating season opens, remember: Pump, Don’t Dump!

With Memorial Day coming up – and National Safe Boating Week underway now – a reminder that one way boaters can make the waters safer for everyone is to take advantage of sewage pumpout stations rather than dumping their waste in the ocean, rivers and lakes.

Dumping waste isn’t just bad for the environment and other water users – it’s against the law, and boaters caught dumping on inland waters or within 3 miles of the coast at sea risk hefty fines.

Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon State Marine Board collaborated on this short, humorous public service announcement demonstrating just how easy proper waste disposal can be:

OSG has also designed and begun placing pumpout and dump station signs at marinas up and down the Oregon coast and on selected lakes.

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A summer opportunity – Oregon South Coast Tourism

College students: Looking for a great way to spend the summer while learning and working with coastal Oregon communities? Take a look at our newest fellowship opportunity on Oregon’s south coast!

Oregon Sea Grant and the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance (WRCA) are offering an epic summer outreach experience. One upper-level undergraduate or graduate level student will experience the beauty of the south coast and help develop WRCA coastal tourism programs and initiatives to vitalize south coast communities. This hands-on experience features mentorship by a career professional, student housing in Bandon, Oregon, if needed, and a summer stipend. The fellowship dates are flexible -between June and September- and will span about ten weeks.

Visit http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/education/fellowships for more details about the fellowship and to submit an application.

Application deadline: May 30, 2014.

 

Invasive species aide named OSU Student Leader

Jennifer LamJennifer Lam, an Oregon State University graduate student who has been part of Oregon Sea Grant’s aquatic invasive species team since 2009, has been named one of OSU’s Outstanding Student Leaders for 2014 by the OSU Women’s Center.

The award will be presented as part of the Women’s Center’s annual awards program on Monday, May 19 from 2:30-4:30 pm.

Lam, who is working on a master’s degree in Marine Resource Management, was nominated by her Sea Grant supervisors for her “outstanding initiative and leadership in helping us educate the public about the ecosystem threats posed by invasive animals and plants.”

Since coming to Sea Grant as a PROMISE intern, she has worked with the program’s watershed and invasive species team led by specialist Sam Can, developing k-12 curricula and public information guides, producing Congressional briefing papers as part of a multi-state legislative framework for controlling the spread of highly invasive mussels by recreational boaters, and conducting her own research into the problem of household pharmaceuticals winding up in the public water supply through improper disposal. Among the products she developed for the program is a classroom “pet pledge” – available in English and Spanish – to educate k-12 teachers and students about how classroom science “pets” can become invasive if released into the wild.

As an undergraduate, Lam served as event coordinator for the MU Program Council, receiving a 2010 award for her work; as a graduate student, she serves as a representative to the Student Advisory Committee of the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences.

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Science Pub to explore the future of oceans

CORVALLIS – The effects of global climate change and associated threats to the oceans are the topic for the May 12 edition of Science Pub Corvallis, presented at the Majestic Theatre, 115 SW 2nd St., from 6-8 pm. Admission to the public talk is free.

Andrew Thurber, a post-doctoral fellow in Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS), will lead the discussion in an informal presentation where questions are welcomed.

The Earth’s oceans face multiple climate-related stresses: warming temperatures, low oxygen, acidification and a lack of biological productivity. As marine ecosystems respond, the consequences could be felt directly by about 2 billion people whose lives depend on ocean fisheries and other resources. Those are among the results reported by an international team of 29 scientists who studied the influence of climate change on marine systems from the poles to the Equator.

Thurber, who holds a Ph.D from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, helped to conceive the study and was a co-author of the report that appeared in October 2013 in the journal PLOS Biology. “What is really sobering about these findings is that they don’t even include other impacts to the world’s oceans such as sea level rise, pollution, over-fishing, and increasing storm intensity and frequency,” he says. “All of these could compound the problem significantly.”

Thurber will discuss the study and actions needed to avert the most significant changes.  His research focuses on deep-sea ecosystems, particularly the role of invertebrates in recycling nutrients and sequestering carbon. He has conducted experiments under seasonal sea ice in Antarctica and explored communities that live around methane seeps near New Zealand and Costa Rica.

Science Pub Corvallis is sponsored by OSU’s TERRA magazine

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Oregon Sea Grant wins two Hermes Creative Awards

Statuette-5-2Oregon Sea Grant Communications has won two awards in this year’s Hermes Creative Awards competition: a Gold Award for the summer 2013 issue of Confluence magazine, and an Honorable Mention for the online video A Big Change.

For more information about the Hermes Creative Awards, please visit http://www.hermesawards.com

 

ROV teams compete for regional honors

Taft High School ROV team  launches Ocean's Hope at 2013 competitionLINCOLN CITY – —More than 150 elementary, middle school, high school and college students in 27 teams bring their underwater robots to the Lincoln City Community Center on May 10 to compete in the annual Oregon Regional MATE Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) contest. The event is free and open to the public.

The teams, which have spent the past few months designing and building the underwater vehicles, join students around the world participating in 23 regional contests supported by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center. Qualifying participants will earn the chance to advance to MATE’s International ROV Competition June 26 – 28, at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Michigan.

Coordinated by Oregon Sea Grant, the Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition encourages students from Astoria to Bandon and Bend to The Dalles, to develop and apply science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills as they work collaboratively to create working ROVs—tethered underwater robots used in ocean exploration, scientific research, and marine technology industries—to complete missions that simulate real-world tasks.

This year’s competition is thematically organized around the role of ROVs in exploring and documenting shipwrecks and conserving national maritime heritage sites such as the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where more than 50 shipwrecks are submerged. The competition helps students understand how chemical, biological and physical conditions can affect such archaeological sites.

Competing teams participating will perform a variety of underwater mission tasks, piloting their ROVs to identify a simulated shipwreck, collect microbial samples, inventory invasive species and remove debris. Students are challenged to think like entrepreneurs and form companies that develop creative solutions for engineering and constructing an ROV to document and explore a newly discovered wreck site. During the process, the students develop the teamwork, creative thinking and problem solving skills that make them competitive in today’s global workplace. The project requires them to solve problems in new and innovative ways, work as part of a team and understand all aspects of business operations—important 21st century skills.

Teams from the following schools and organizations are participating in the competition: Bandon High School, Cheldelin Middle School (Corvallis), Clatsop Community College (Astoria), Eddyville Charter School, Life Christian School (Aloha), Linn-Benton Community College (Albany), Meek Pro Tech High School (Portland), Oregon State University (Corvallis), Summit High School (Bend),,Taft 7-12 (Lincoln City), Tahola Middle School (Tahola, WA), The Dalles High School, Toledo Elementary, Toledo Jr/Sr High School, Waldport High School and Wasco County 4-H.

The Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition is supported by many sponsors, including Oregon State University, the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Center, Lincoln County School District, the Marine Technology Society-Oregon Chapter, the Siletz Charitable Contribution Fund, the Cascade Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, and Tanger Outlet Mall. Local marine technology professionals and engineers volunteer as judges for the competition, evaluating the students’ ROVs, poster displays, and engineering presentations. Numerous other volunteers donate their time each year, serving as divers and support staff for the competition, making it a community-wide effort.

For more information,  contact Tracy Crews at OregonCoastSTEM@oregonstate.edu.

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