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Leigh Torres: Racing whales

Posted by: | February 4, 2016 | No Comment |

“… Our task was to find them, pace them, and let them continue their remarkable behavior without disturbance, while also documenting the behavior and collecting our photos and biopsy samples. Tricky. With a truly team effort, and help from the whales when they slowed down occasionally, we succeeded.

We paced the whales nearby, watching them explode through the water side by side. So close they could have been touching each other.”

— Dr. Leigh Torres, featured in National Geographic’s Explorers Journal blog

Leigh Torres holds a joint position with OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute and Oregon Sea Grant Extension. Her research focuses on 50 blue whales in the South Taranaki Bight, some of New Zealand’s busiest and most industrialized waters, seeking to learn how many whales are there, how important it is as a feeding area for them, and to what population of whales  they belong.

Follow Dr. Torres’ work in the MMI’s blog, complete with video of the racing whales.

under: marine mammals

Ocean acidification panel at HMSC Jan. 28

Posted by: | January 25, 2016 Comments Off on Ocean acidification panel at HMSC Jan. 28 |

NEWPORT – The OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center and the Union of Concerned Scientists will host a reception and panel discussion on the environmental and economic impacts of ocean acidification on our coastal communities. The event is from 5-7 pm this Thursday, January 28  in the HMSC Visitor Center’s Hennings Auditorium.

Expert panelists will discuss the science of ocean acidification, local impacts and potential solutions with community members and elected officials.

Panelists are:

  • Dr. George Waldbusser, Assistant Professor, OSU College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Alan Barton, Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery
  • Dr. Francis Chan, Associate Professor and Senior Researcher, OSU College of Science
  • Emily Heffling, Western States Outreach Coordinator, Union of Concerned Scientists

Join us for a light reception and meet our panelists before the presentation.

The event, hosted by HMSC Director Bob Cowen and State Representative David Gomberg, is family-friendly, free and open to the public. RSVP requested – eheffling@ucsusa.org or 510-809-1584.

Learn more:

Current and recent Oregon Sea Grant-funded research on ocean acidification

under: Oregon Sea Grant

Research/outreach project studies crab fishery

Posted by: | January 6, 2016 Comments Off on Research/outreach project studies crab fishery |

Commercial Dungeness crab fishing on the West Coast is one of the highest risk occupations in the United States, based on fatality rates. But non-fatal injuries in the fishery appear to go largely unreported, a new study from Oregon State University shows.

While the fatalDungeness crab in trapity rates in the Dungeness crab fleet have been reported in the past, the incidence of non-fatal injuries have not been previously studied, said Laurel Kincl, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health and safety in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

“The commercial Dungeness fishing fleet, which operates along the coast of Oregon, Washington and Northern California, is a vital economic commodity,” she said. “Injuries can be life-threatening and life-altering, leading to disability, decreased quality of life and lost wages.”

Understanding the type and nature of fatalities and injuries, including describing and categorizing the types of injuries, is the first step in identifying safety issues and pinpointing areas for prevention, she said.

The fatality rate among Dungeness crab fishermen is several times higher than the national rate for commercial fishing. But the injury rate among Dungeness fishermen is much lower than injury rates in other commercial fishing fleets that have been studied. Kincl believes underreporting may be to blame.

Her team’s findings, published in the latest issue of the journal International Maritime Health , are the first step to better understanding fishing injuries among Dungeness crab fishermen. The research is part of an OSU-led research project to identify and reduce the risks of injuries in the industry, Kincl said.

The research is part of a new Fishermen Led Injury Prevention Program (FLIPP), designed to take a fresh approach to fishing industry injury prevention by working with commercial Dungeness crab fishermen to identify and reduce injury risks. The project is supported by a three-year, $825,000 grant from the National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health. Kincl is the principal investigator.

In the project’s next phase, Kelsey Miller, Oregon Sea Grant’s new Newport-based Fisheries Extension faculty research assistant, is helping Kincl and her colleagues set up focus groups of fishermen along the Oregon coast and conduct fishing crew surveys to find out more about how they get hurt on the job and what they are doing  to prevent injuries.

By the end of the project, researchers hope to come up with and test interventions that could help reduce injuries among crab fishermen.

“We want to identify some things that might work, but we don’t want to tell them what to do,” Kincl said. “We want to let them decide what would be most helpful.”

Learn more:

under: Oregon Sea Grant

Knauss Fellowship Webinar coming this Friday

Posted by: | January 5, 2016 Comments Off on Knauss Fellowship Webinar coming this Friday |

Interested in applying for the Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship? Attend Oregon Sea Grant’s Knauss Fellowship Informational Webinar this Friday, Jan. 8 at 10:00 AM. For more details, please register for the webinar by emailing Mary Pleasant by Wednesday, January 6th.

Applications due: Feb. 12, 2016.

The Knauss Fellowship Program provides a unique educational experience to graduate students in fields related to marine or Great Lakes studies. The program matches highly qualified graduate students with hosts in the legislative branch, the executive branch, or appropriate associations and institutions located in the Washington, D.C. area. Recipients spend one year working on substantive national policy issues related to marine issues; a stipend is provided.

The Fellowship is open to any student who, as of the application deadline, is in a graduate or professional program in a marine or aquatic-related field at an institution of higher education in the United States. Applications are submitted through state Sea Grant programs (students need not reside in Oregon to submit their applications through Oregon Sea Grant.

under: Oregon Sea Grant

Shark Day at the Visitor Center!

Posted by: | January 4, 2016 Comments Off on Shark Day at the Visitor Center! |
Oregon Sea Grant public educator Bill Hanshumaker answers young visitors' questions before starting to necropsy a salmon shark during HMSC Visitor Center's 2010 Shark Day

Oregon Sea Grant public educator Bill Hanshumaker answers young visitors’ questions before starting to necropsy a salmon shark during HMSC Visitor Center’s 2011 Shark Day

NEWPORT – The Visitor Center at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center celebrates its annual Shark Day on Saturday, Jan. 9, with family activities, films and exhibits about sharks and their fascinating lives.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and features comparative necropsy of two species of shark commonly found off the Oregon coast – a blue shark (Prionace glauca) and a Pacific sleeper shark (Somniosus pacificus). Oregon Sea Grant’s Dr. Bill Hanshumaker, chief scientist for the visitor center, will dissect the sharks and talk about their biological and behavioral similarities and differences. The necropsy starts at 1:30 pm.

There is no charge to enter the Visitor Center, but donations toward the public marine education programs Oregon Sea Grant offers there  there are encouraged.

Learn more:

under: Oregon Sea Grant

Sea Grant names new boater outreach coordinator

Posted by: | December 28, 2015 Comments Off on Sea Grant names new boater outreach coordinator |

Jenny EastJenny East has been named Oregon Sea Grant’s new, full-time Extension boater outreach coordinator to work with recreational boaters on Oregon’s north coast, the Columbia River and in the Portland metro area.

She will work with the Oregon State Marine Board to inform boaters about the location and use of dockside “pump and dump” facilities for properly disposing of onboard toilet waste, part of the state’s ongoing efforts toward cleaner waterways.

East, who started Dec. 15, is temporarily working out of OSU’s Lincoln County Extension office in Newport, with plans to relocate soon to the Washington County Extension office in Hillsboro.

under: Columbia River, Oregon Sea Grant, outreach and engagement, people, recreational boating

Whale Watch Week at the Visitor Center

Posted by: | December 23, 2015 Comments Off on Whale Watch Week at the Visitor Center |
A grey whale breaches in a Mexican lagoon (photo courtesy of NOAA)

A grey whale breaches in a Mexican lagoon (photo courtesy of NOAA)

NEWPORT – The Visitor Center at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center will be a busy place the week after Christmas, with special exhibits and daily programming celebrating the annual southward migration of grey whales off Oregon’s coast.

The California grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus) is one of the world’s largest mammals, spending its life off the western coast of the US, Canada and Mexico. In the summer, they feed in Alaska’s Bering Sea; in the winter, they move to breeding grounds off Baja California to bear their young. Oregon State Parks celebrates their migratory seasons with winter and spring Whale Watch Weeks, placing trained volunteers at coastal parks and viewpoints to help visitors spot these huge animals as they move near shore.

The Visitor Center, operated by Oregon Sea Grant, will be open daily Dec. 26-31, from 10 am to 4 p.m. with a daily presentation on marine mammals at 1:30 p.m., as well as family activities, films and exhibits about marine mammal research. State Parks plans to post daily statistics about the number of whales spotted off the Oregon coast.

Learn more:

under: Oregon Sea Grant

Selina Heppell named to head OSU Fisheries & Wildlife

Posted by: | December 22, 2015 Comments Off on Selina Heppell named to head OSU Fisheries & Wildlife |

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Selina Heppell, an Oregon State University conservation biologist, has been named head of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

She is the first woman to hold that position in the department’s 80-year history.

Heppell succeeds former department head W. Daniel “Dan” Edge, who earlier this year was named associate dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. A faculty member in fisheries and wildlife since 2001, Heppell has served as associate and interim head of the department.

“Selina has provided terrific leadership during her term as interim head of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and I am delighted that she will continue to lead the department, which is one of the best in the nation,” said Dan Arp, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “She is a distinguished researcher and teacher with a demonstrated commitment to excellence.”

Heppell will lead one of the largest natural sciences programs at OSU, with more than 600 registered undergraduate majors in Corvallis and online, 180 graduate students and eight degrees and certificates. There are about 140 (non-student) employees in the department, which brought in about $7.4 million in research grants and contracts in 2015.

Heppell has served as principal investigator on several recent Oregon Sea Grant research projects on topics such as the 2012 invasion of Humboldt squid into Oregon and Washington waters and developing better tools for fisheries stock assessment. She also serves on the science advisory board for a successful coastal citizen science project, the long-term Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST).

Learn more:

under: fisheries, higher education, Oregon State University, people, research

Meet Montgomery

Posted by: | December 21, 2015 Comments Off on Meet Montgomery |

Montgomery, the HMSC Visitor Center's newest octopus
Meet Montgomery, the new resident giant Pacific octopus at the Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitor Center in Newport.

He was introduced to visitors last week and is proving to be a gregarious, active animal – especially at feeding times (Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 1 pm.

Next week is the perfect time to stop by the Visitor Center, get in out of the rain and say hello to our new octopus. Dec. 26-31 is  Winter Whale Watch Week, and we’ll be open from 10 am to 4 pm daily with special activities, exhibits and films!

under: Oregon Sea Grant

New methods find bacterial infection, not virus, associated with 2009 harbor seal deaths

Posted by: | December 21, 2015 Comments Off on New methods find bacterial infection, not virus, associated with 2009 harbor seal deaths |
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/noaaphotolib/

Harbor seals (Photo by Dr. Brandon Southall, NMFS/OPR, courtesy NOAA Photo Library, https://www.flickr.com/photos/noaaphotolib/)

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A study by microbiologists at Oregon State University has concluded that an unsuspected bacterial infection, rather than a viral disease, was associated with the stranding and death of seven harbor seals on the California coast in 2009.

The research, made with a powerful investigative method called “meta-transcriptomics,” found a high incidence of infection in the seals with the bacterial pathogen Burkholderia, and provides the first report in the Americas of this bacteria in a wild harbor seal.

The bacteria probably did not directly cause the death of the seals, researchers say, but this provides further evidence of the increase in emerging marine pathogens, and the need for improved monitoring and study of zoonotic diseases that could affect both human and wildlife populations.

In light of these findings, OSU researchers also remind the public that they should not touch stranded or dead marine mammals.

The research was recently published in PLOS ONE, in work supported by Oregon Sea Grant and the National Science Foundation.

“We now have improved tools to better identify new diseases as they emerge from natural reservoirs, and can record and track these events,” said Rebecca Vega-Thurber, an assistant professor of microbiology in the OSU College of Science. “It’s becoming clear there are more pathogens than we knew of in the past, and that some of them can move into human populations.

“This is why it’s increasingly important that we accurately pinpoint the cause of these diseases, and understand the full range of causes that may factor into these deaths.”

Learn more:


under: Oregon Sea Grant

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