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Archive for ecology

Now available: New issue of Oregon Sea Grant’s newsletter

Posted by: | October 24, 2017 Comments Off on Now available: New issue of Oregon Sea Grant’s newsletter |

October 24, 2017

The fall/winter 2017 issue of Confluence, a newsletter about Oregon Sea Grant’s research, outreach and educational programs, is now available for download. Inside this eight-page issue, you’ll find the following stories:

Gooseneck barnacles grow on top of thatched barnacles. (Photo by Julia Bingham)

Want to receive the next issue of Confluence in your email? Click here.

under: aquaculture, Confluence, crab, ecology, environment, Extension, fisheries, fishermen, internships, marine animals, marine science, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, outreach and engagement, people, publications, recreational boating, research, Sea Grant Scholars, seafood, shellfish, sustainability
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‘State of the Coast’ conference set for Oct. 28 in Florence

Posted by: | October 13, 2017 Comments Off on ‘State of the Coast’ conference set for Oct. 28 in Florence |

10-13-17

By Tiffany Woods

Registration has opened for Oregon Sea Grant’s annual State of the Coast conference, which will be held Oct. 28 in Florence.

Shelby Walker addresses the audience at Oregon Sea Grant’s State of the Coast Conference at Gleneden Beach in 2016. She is the director of Oregon Sea Grant. (Photo by Charles Robinson)

Billed as Oregon’s coastal conference for everyone, the event aims to bring together the public, scientists, fishermen, resource managers, teachers, students and conservationists. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn, network and talk about the current status and future of Oregon’s marine environment.

The keynote speaker will be Rick Spinrad, the chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 2014 to January 2017. He was also the vice president of research at Oregon State University from 2010 to 2014.

Under this year’s theme of “innovation,” presentations and hands-on activities will include the following topics:

  • invasive European green crabs
  • pyrosomes, the jelly-like, tube-shaped organisms that were seen off the Oregon coast in unusually large numbers this year
  • coastal governance and coastal-related legislation
  • the science behind fresh and frozen seafood
  • innovations in observing marine mammals
  • marine gear and technology
  • engaging communities in art
  • tracking local and global seafood across the supply chain
  • forecasting ocean conditions for recreation, profit and safety
  • managing estuaries for everyone

Marie Kowalski, a former master’s student at Oregon State University, talks about her research on mitigating microplastics at Oregon Sea Grant’s State of the Coast Conference in Coos Bay in 2015. (Photo by Anne Farrell-Matthews)

Additionally, students from various universities in Oregon will talk about their coastal research. Also, a coastal chef will demonstrate how to prepare various types of seafood.

Registration in advance is recommended as space is limited. Cost is $35 for the public and $25 for students. It includes refreshments, lunch and a raffle ticket. The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes with a reception that starts at 4 p.m. For more information and to register, visit www.stateofthecoast.com. The event will take place at the Florence Events Center at 715 Quince St.

under: beach safety, citizen science, ecology, environment, events, fisheries, fishermen, invasive species, lectures, marine animals, marine education, marine mammals, marine science, news, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, people, science education, seafood, Seafood preparation, seafood safety, waterfronts
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Video: Searching for microplastics in razor clams and oysters

Posted by: | September 13, 2017 Comments Off on Video: Searching for microplastics in razor clams and oysters |
Britta Baechler looks at harvested razor clams.

Britta Baechler (right) looks at harvested razor clams.

Sept. 13, 2017

A new video from Oregon Sea Grant shows how researchers at Portland State University are inspecting the guts and tissues of razor clams and oysters along the Oregon coast for microplastics, which can come from foams, tiny beads in facial creams, synthetic fibers from clothing, and disintegrating plastic bags.

Shucked oyster in lab

An oyster is shucked at a lab at Portland State University.

“Our goal is to figure out if we have them in our oysters and clams, and if so, are they at problematic levels?” said Britta Baechler, a PSU master’s student who is working on the Oregon Sea Grant-funded project under the guidance of PSU marine ecologist Elise Granek.

Oysters and clams, Baechler explained in the four-minute video, are indiscriminate filter feeders and so they may ingest a piece of plastic and not be able to get rid of it. Microplastics, which are defined as less than 5 mm, are of concern because they can attract chemicals, which might harm animals if eaten.

dissolved razor clam in Petri dish

Britta Baechler shows a dissolved razor clam in a Petri dish.

With help from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Baechler dug up razor clams at nine sites along the Oregon coast and bought oysters at five locations to see if there are areas where microplastics are more prevalent. She collected the shellfish in the spring of 2017 and again this summer to see if microplastics are more common during certain times of the year.

Once the oysters and clams were gathered, they were taken to Granek’s lab at PSU where they were measured, weighed, shucked and frozen so they could later be dissolved in potassium hydroxide. This process leaves a clear liquid that contains only sand and any plastics that may be present. The researchers hope to have dissolved all of the bivalves by the end of September. For the ones that have already been dissolved, they’ve been analyzing the liquefied remains under a microscope to see if they find microplastics, but results are not in yet.

“Ultimately, we’re hoping that this study brings awareness to Oregonians and even visitors to the state of Oregon that plastics that we use in our daily lives make their way into the environment,” Baechler said in the video. “We’re also hoping that our partners, like Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and other state agencies, might take this information to learn about hot spots for microplastics to address the problem.”

Photos of Baechler and her work can be downloaded from this album on Oregon Sea Grant’s Flickr page.

The video was produced by Tiffany Woods and filmed and edited by Gustavo Garcia.

under: ecology, environment, fisheries, marine animals, marine debris, Oregon Sea Grant, shellfish, videos
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Video: Studying the relationship between seagrass, nutrients, algae and herbivores

Posted by: | August 29, 2017 Comments Off on Video: Studying the relationship between seagrass, nutrients, algae and herbivores |

Aug. 29, 2017

A new video from Oregon Sea Grant shows how researchers are studying how nutrients from agricultural runoff and oceanic upwelling impact the growth of light-blocking algae on eelgrass in bays along the Oregon coast.

With funding from Oregon Sea Grant, they’re also studying how tiny herbivores, such as sea slugs and centipede-like isopods, might prevent eelgrass from being snuffed out by this algae. Additionally, they’re investigating whether these herbivores prefer to eat the native or invasive eelgrass in the bays.

In the six-minute video, Fiona Tomas Nash, a marine ecologist in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University, explains that eelgrass is important because it produces oxygen, reduces the impacts of waves, and provides habitat and food for waterfowl, baby fish and crabs.

“Nutrient pollution is one of the main causes of seagrass loss worldwide,” Tomas Nash said in the video. “And so we’re trying to understand if this is a problem in Oregon.”

She said the results of her research may benefit state and federal agencies that deal with food production, fisheries and water quality.

The research is taking place in four estuaries – Coos Bay, Yaquina, Netarts and Tillamook – to quantify how much seagrass there is and determine what aquatic grazers are present, Tomas Nash said.

“We’re doing experiments, both in the field and in the lab,” she said in the video, “where we add nutrients, and we also manipulate the presence or absence of these animals to see how these combinations of more nutrients and different animals can affect the amount of algae that there is and, therefore, the seagrass health.”

Partners in the project include the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Environmental Protection Agency and the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. 

The video was produced by Tiffany Woods and filmed and edited by Gustavo Garcia.

Photos of Tomas Nash and her work can be downloaded from this album on Oregon Sea Grant’s Flickr page.

More information about the research is on Oregon Sea Grant’s website.

 

under: crab, ecology, environment, fisheries, marine animals, marine science, news, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, research, shellfish, videos, water quality & conservation
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Video: Summer internships prepare undergrads for marine science careers

Posted by: | August 24, 2017 Comments Off on Video: Summer internships prepare undergrads for marine science careers |

This new video shows how Oregon Sea Grant’s Summer Scholars program helps prepare high-caliber junior and senior undergraduates from around the U.S. for careers in the marine sciences or the management of coastal resources. The program places students with Oregon-based federal and state agencies and nongovernmental organizations for paid, 10-week internships.

Students are assigned to a specific project under a mentor. They may assist their mentors with field work, lab work, analysis, research, policy development or public engagement efforts.

The video, produced by Oregon Sea Grant (OSG), also highlights some of this summer’s activities and includes interviews with students and mentors.

Ten students from seven different states participated in this year’s program, interning with agencies such as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), the USDA, the OSU Extension Tourism Program, the EPA and the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. Students worked on topics ranging from monitoring recovering sea star populations to spreading awareness about marine reserves to testing unmanned aircraft systems’ viability in shellfish surveys.

Students also participated in a professional-development workshop on science communication and outreach and engagement. The workshop was followed by a hiking and camping trip, allowing students both to explore more of Oregon’s scenic beauty and spend some quality time with their cohort.

The program culminated with a symposium that was open to the public. Friends, family, mentors and coworkers came to watch the scholars present on their summer’s work.

“The skills I’ve gained this summer as a scholar seem a little difficult to quantify because it feels like there’s a lot,” student Catie Michel said in the video. “But I’ve especially appreciated learning about successful collaboration with people and effective communication, especially in terms of science and research.”

In addition to aligning with OSG’s vision, mission and values, the goals of the Summer Scholars program are to

  • prepare students for graduate school and/or careers in marine science, policy, management, and outreach through funding support and hands-on experience;
  • support host organization program initiatives and facilitate scholars’ understanding of their work’s importance in accomplishing the broader host organization goals; and
  • promote integration of diverse perspectives into problem solving for coastal Oregon to provide richer and more inclusive solutions.

The program also strives to encourage student success during and after their internships through cultivating an inclusive environment, creating a broad professional network in the marine field, offering professional development opportunities with an emphasis on science communication, and fostering a supportive mentor/mentee relationship.

“What I enjoy about mentoring a Sea Grant scholar is watching the students enjoy the learning experience,” Tommy Swearingen, a researcher with the ODFW, said in the video. “As an agency scientist, it is a huge benefit to our program to have the contribution that students make.”

Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars Program was filmed and edited by Haley Epperly.

More information about the Summer Scholars program can be found here.

under: ecology, ecosystem-based-management, environment, Extension, higher education, internships, marine animals, marine education, marine policy, marine reserves, marine science, marine spatial planning, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, public communication, research, scholarships, science communication, science education, Sea Grant Scholars, summer activities, videos, water quality & conservation, watersheds
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Are you ready? Let’s go on a Quest!

Posted by: | July 12, 2017 Comments Off on Are you ready? Let’s go on a Quest! |

The 2017-18 edition of Oregon Sea Grant’s popular “Oregon Coast Quests Book” is now available, featuring 24 Quests in English (three of which are brand new) and one in Spanish. The directions for virtually all of the previous Quests included in the new edition have been updated to reflect changes in site terrain, landmarks, signage and other details, making this book a must-have for avid Questers!

The price for the 222-page book is just $10, and you can buy copies from the retailers listed here.

What is a Quest?

Quests are fun and educational clue-directed hunts that encourage exploration of natural areas. In this self-guided activity, Questers follow a map and find a series of clues to reach a hidden box. The box contains a small guest book, a stamp pad, a unique rubber stamp and additional information about the Quest site. Participants sign the guest book to record their find, and make an imprint of the Quest Box stamp in the back of their clue book as proof of accomplishment. Then the box is re-hidden for the next person to find. The location of the clues and box remain a secret so others can share the fun. Oregon Coast Quest clues and boxes stay in place year-round.

Questing is an ideal place-based activity for individuals, small groups and families. By turning a walk into a treasure hunt, children often race ahead of their parents instead of lagging behind. Through Quests, important areas of natural, cultural and/or historical significance are shared. Furthermore, both those who go on Quests and those who create Quests for others gain pride and a sense of stewardship for their community’s special places.

Production of the Oregon Coast Quests Book 2017-18 was coordinated by Cait Goodwin of Oregon Sea Grant.

under: ecology, environment, free-choice learning, kids, marine education, news, Oregon Sea Grant, publications, summer activities, watersheds
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New videos encourage boaters to help keep waterways clean

Posted by: | July 5, 2017 Comments Off on New videos encourage boaters to help keep waterways clean |

Two new videos from Oregon Sea Grant encourage boaters to help keep our waterways clean by emptying their portable toilets and holding tanks at designated facilities at marinas and short-term tie-up docks.

The videos, “Where to Empty Onboard Portable Toilets in Oregon” and “Where to Empty Onboard Holding Tanks in Oregon,” feature Jenny East, boater outreach coordinator with Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon State University Extension Service. They are part of her ongoing efforts to educate recreational boaters about the availability of facilities at marinas for disposing of onboard sewage.

Jenny East empties an onboard portable toilet.

The new videos join a dozen others on the subject, available on a YouTube playlist here.

Photos of East and some of the facilities she demonstrates in the videos are available for download from our “Boater Outreach” album on Flickr.

The videos were filmed and edited by Oregon Sea Grant videographer Vanessa Cholewczynski in collaboration with the Oregon State Marine Board.

under: Columbia River, ecology, environment, fisheries, fishermen, marine debris, news, Oregon Sea Grant, public communication, recreational boating, videos, water quality
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New video reveals how blood work can be used to identify sick sea stars

Posted by: | June 1, 2017 Comments Off on New video reveals how blood work can be used to identify sick sea stars |

A new video from Oregon Sea Grant (OSG), Sea Star Health: Using Blood Work to Identify Sick Sea Stars, reveals how OSG and Oregon State University created the first-ever blood panel for ochre sea stars to use as a baseline for detecting sick ones. The tool could help aquarists treat them before they succumb to Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, which causes their limbs to fall off.

The cause of the syndrome, which was first seen in the Pacific Northwest in 2013, is unknown. OSU veterinary student Heather Renee Srch-Thaden created the blood panel under the guidance of Dr. Tim Miller-Morgan, an aquatic veterinarian with OSG Extension, and Dr. Susan Tornquist, dean of OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The video was filmed at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, where the public can touch and learn about sea stars in a tidepool exhibit at the HMSC Visitor Center. It was filmed and edited by OSG videographer Vanessa Cholewczynski, with photos by Tim Miller-Morgan and Heather Renee Srch-Thaden.

You can watch the four-minute video on OSG’s YouTube channel, here.

Opening frame from the video, "Sea Star Health: Using Blood Work to Detect Sick Sea Stars"

This new video from Oregon Sea Grant reveals how researchers are using blood samples from sea stars to detect signs of disease.

under: ecology, environment, Extension, HMSC Visitor Center, marine animals, marine science, news, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, people, research, videos
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A parasitic isopod known as Orthione griffenis is decimating mud shrimp populations in coastal estuaries ranging from British Columbia to northern California. Most surviving mud shrimp populations are heavily infested with the parasite, threatening their existence.

“From Bamfield, Canada, down to Morro Bay, California, the native mud shrimp, Upogebia pugettensis, are either gone or the populations are severely depressed,” said John Chapman, an Oregon State University invasive species specialist who works out of OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Mud shrimp are valuable prey for birds, fish and other animals in estuaries, and some ecologists believe they have provided a steady food source for ocean-bound juvenile coho and Chinook. Mud shrimp are also important to the ecology of estuaries: each day during their feeding, they may filter as much as 80 percent of the estuary’s intertidal water.

Studying the shrimp, which can burrow to depths of two meters, involves extracting them with quantitative sampling devices. These devices traditionally have been either handheld cores and shovels, which can damage the shrimp beds, or a “yabby” pump, which sucks up only medium-sized and large shrimp and is not quantitative. Neither method is reliable for quantifying the most important reproductive sizes, and both often damage shrimp in the process of collecting them.

The solution? Create a new device that’s not only long enough to reach the deepest shrimp, but gentle enough to bring them to the surface unharmed — and also simple enough to allow for rapid, inexpensive sampling by just a few researchers.

Engineering student Cade Burch demonstrates the "portable deep core."

Engineering student Cade Burch demonstrates his team’s “portable deep core.” (Photo by Rick Cooper)

To develop the device — a “portable deep core” — Chapman enlisted the assistance of OSU Engineering professors John Parmigiani and Sharon LaRoux, who would oversee the student design teams* and participate in the field testing and implementation. Chapman and Parmigiani also secured $9,000 in funding from Oregon Sea Grant, to help defray materials costs and other expenses.

Between January and May 2017, three student teams, each working on a different design, researched, planned, designed, built and tested the components of their respective devices, and on May 19 they unveiled the working prototypes at OSU’s Undergraduate Engineering Expo. “Each of the three designs will be evaluated and combined over the summer by a graduate student into a single, final prototype,” said Parmigiani.

According to Chapman, the newly designed deep core “will, for the first time, give us access to the entire range of burrowing shrimp populations, and let us gather the information we need to help slow or reverse the mud shrimp’s decline.”

*Design teams
205a: Cade Burch, Eric Beebe, Omar Alkhaldi
205b: Patrick Finn, Jacob Garrison, Connor Churchill
205c: Zachary Gerard, Evan Leal, Derrick Purcell

Additional reporting by Mark Floyd, OSU News and Research Communications

 

 

under: ecology, engineering, environment, fisheries, grants, marine animals, marine science, news, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, salmon, shellfish
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New publication is designed to help teachers conduct meaningful, field-based lessons

Posted by: | May 4, 2017 Comments Off on New publication is designed to help teachers conduct meaningful, field-based lessons |
A new publication from Oregon Sea Grant, “StreamWebs Field and Classroom Watershed Investigation Curriculum,” is designed to help formal and nonformal educators use StreamWebs as a platform to conduct meaningful, field-based, student-driven investigations that continue in the classroom. The desired outcomes are to provide science inquiry-based opportunities for students to work collaboratively in the

field in ways similar to scientists; to understand that science doesn’t only happen in a lab or classroom; to design their own investigative question and research plan; to collect data; to learn how to look for patterns and changes in their data; to make logical conclusions based upon their data; to answer or refine their investigative question and/or research plan; and to understand what the data indicate for their stream over time.

The curriculum is designed for 6th through 9th grade but may be adapted for older or younger grade levels.
 You may download a free PDF of the 42-page publication here.
 Photo: Renee O’Neill teaches students how to collect aquatic insects along the South Santiam River near Sweet Home. (Photo by Vanessa Cholewczynski)
under: ecology, environment, k-12 teachers, kids, marine education, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, publications, water quality, water quality & conservation, watersheds
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