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OSU gets two NOAA aquaculture grants to help oyster industry and marine fish hatcheries

Posted by: | November 7, 2017 Comments Off on OSU gets two NOAA aquaculture grants to help oyster industry and marine fish hatcheries |

11/7/17

by Tiffany Woods

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has awarded scientists at Oregon State University two aquaculture grants that aim to make oysters safer to eat and help hatcheries feed certain marine fish more efficiently.

Tongs pulling an oyster out of a water tank

Oysters filter water in a depuration tank, thus expelling potential contaminants from their tissues. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)

The first project, funded at $150,000, aims to reduce bacteria known as Vibrio parahaemolyticus in oysters without altering their texture and consistency. Researchers plan to add naturally occurring marine probiotics, which are live or freeze-dried microbial supplements, to the seawater in depuration tanks. Depuration tanks are where oysters are sometimes held to flush out contaminants that may be in their tissues. Researchers have already isolated various marine probiotics that inhibit the growth of pathogens.

The researchers also aim to develop a dipstick containing antibodies to quickly screen adult oysters for V. parahaemolyticus. The idea is that people would not need special training or equipment to use this diagnostic tool.

Oysters

Researchers aim to use marine probiotics to decrease bacteria in oysters. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum)

The leader of this two-year project is Shelby Walker, the director of Oregon Sea Grant, although the actual research will be conducted by the lab of Claudia Hase, a professor with OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Partners include mAbDx, an immunodiagnostics company in Eugene, Ore.; and Reed Mariculture near San Francisco.

The other grant, worth $629,000, aims to improve the nutritional value of live prey fed to California halibut, California yellowtail and southern flounder. When they’re still in their larval stage, farmed saltwater fish are typically fed tiny rotifers and brine shrimp. However, these organisms are less nutritious than copepods, which are the natural prey of many marine fish in the wild. Given this, the researchers plan to feed rotifers and brine shrimp vitamin C and taurine, an amino acid. To make sure these nutrients don’t dissolve in the seawater, the researchers will encapsulate them in bubble-like liposomes, which can have impermeable membranes.

Oregon State University’s Chris Langdon received a grant to make prey that are fed to certain farmed fish more nutritious. (Photo by Stephen Ward)

The researchers plan to:

  • determine the optimal concentrations that should be used for taurine and vitamin C,
  • evaluate how these nutrients affect the growth, survival and stress resistance of the fish,
  • develop methods to produce the liposomes on a larger scale instead of just at the laboratory level,
  • study how long-term storage affects how the liposomes retain the nutrients, and
  • determine how much it would cost to produce and store liposomes and how many liposomes would be needed to feed a certain amount of prey.

Walker will lead the three-year project, but the research will be conducted by the lab of Chris Langdon, a professor with OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and well as by staff at the subcontracted Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego. Partners include the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Reed Mariculture. Bill Hanshumaker, a marine educator with Oregon Sea Grant Extension, will be involved with outreach activities.

Oregon Sea Grant will administer the funding for both projects. They are part of 32 grants totaling $9.3 million awarded by NOAA last week to further develop the nation’s marine aquaculture industry.

“This country, with its abundant coastline, should not have to import billions of pounds of seafood each year,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “These grants will promote aquaculture projects that will help us reduce our trade deficit in this key industry.”

All projects include public-private partnerships and will be led by university-based Sea Grant programs.

“Industry is working alongside researchers on each of these projects, which will help expand businesses, create new jobs and provide economic benefits to coastal communities,” said Jonathan Pennock, the director of NOAA Sea Grant.

NOAA received 126 proposals requesting about $58 million in federal funds.

under: aquaculture, environment, fisheries, grants, marine animals, marine science, National Sea Grant Program, news, NOAA, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, people, research, seafood, seafood safety, shellfish, technology
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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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UO study moves seafood industry closer to farming gooseneck barnacles

Posted by: | October 13, 2017 Comments Off on UO study moves seafood industry closer to farming gooseneck barnacles |

10/13/17

By Tiffany Woods

A study led by a University of Oregon marine biologist has moved the seafood industry one step closer to farming gooseneck barnacles, which are a pricey delicacy in Spain and a common sight on the West Coast.

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

Funded by Oregon Sea Grant, researchers found that juvenile gooseneck barnacles in a lab grew at rates comparable to those of their counterparts in the wild.

Led by Alan Shanks, a professor with the UO’s Charleston-based Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB), the researchers glued juveniles to textured, acrylic plates hung vertically inside 12 plastic tubes that were about twice the height and diameter of a can of tennis balls. Unfiltered seawater was pumped in, vigorously aerated and allowed to overflow. After a week, the barnacles began secreting their own cement.

Twice a day for eight weeks, the researchers fed the barnacles either micro-algal paste or brine shrimp eggs; a third group of barnacles was not fed anything but was left to filter food out of the seawater. Once a week the researchers measured the barnacles’ growth. Those that were fed the brine shrimp eggs outgrew the other barnacles.

Seawater is pumped into plastic tubes containing juvenile gooseneck barnacles in a lab at the University of Oregon as part of a research project funded by Oregon Sea Grant. Researchers glued the juveniles to textured, acrylic plates hung vertically inside the tubes. (Photo by Mike Thomas)

“The experiment has demonstrated that feeding is not dependent on high water velocities, and barnacles can be stimulated to feed using aeration and will survive and grow readily in mariculture,” Shanks said.

He added that unlike high-flow systems, his low-flow “barnacle nursery” doesn’t use as much energy or have expensive pumps to maintain, so it has the potential to decrease operating costs.

Despite the findings, the researchers are cautiously optimistic.

“While our experiment showed promise, there is still a great deal of research which needs to be done to solve some of the barriers to successful and profitable mariculture,” said research assistant Mike Thomas. “For example, inducing settlement of gooseneck barnacle larvae onto artificial surfaces has historically proven difficult and this makes the implantation of barnacles a laborious task. There are other methods of mariculture which need to be explored further for their efficacy before deciding on the best method.”

Another part of Shanks’ project involved conducting field research to see if there are enough gooseneck barnacles in southern Oregon to sustain commercial harvesting. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife allows commercial harvesting of gooseneck barnacles on jetties but not on natural rock formations. Shanks hopes the agency will be able use the results of his work when regulating their harvesting.

A juvenile gooseneck barnacle grows on an acrylic plate in a research project funded by Oregon Sea Grant. Researchers at the University of Oregon found that juvenile gooseneck barnacles in their lab grew at rates comparable to or greater than those for species in the wild. (Photo by Mike Thomas)

Researchers used photographs and transects to estimate the barnacle populations on eight jetties in Winchester Bay, Coos Bay, Bandon, Port Orford, Gold Beach and Brookings. They estimated that there are roughly 1 billion adult and juvenile gooseneck barnacles attached to these eight jetties but only about 2 percent are of commercially harvestable size.

“Our surveys suggest that wild populations are unlikely to sustain long-term commercial harvest should the market significantly expand beyond its current size,” researcher Julia Bingham wrote in a report about the project.

She added that with the exception of jetties in Coos Bay and Winchester Bay, the other six jetties had such limited numbers of barnacles that even a “very small-scale harvest” – about 500 pounds per year per jetty – could wipe out harvestable-sized goosenecks on them in five years.

With a second round of funding from Oregon Sea Grant that was awarded in 2017, Shanks and Aaron Galloway, an aquatic ecologist at the OIMB, are continuing the research. Their new work includes:

  • studying how long it takes for a population to return to pre-harvest densities
  • testing different glues and surfaces to see if harvested barnacles that are too small for market can be reattached to plates and returned to the ocean
  • testing out bigger tubes for rearing barnacles in the lab to make them feasible for larger-scale aquaculture
  • testing other diets, including finely minced fish waste from a seafood processing plant

Additional reporting by Rick Cooper.

under: aquaculture, fisheries, marine animals, news, Oregon Sea Grant, research, seafood, shellfish, sustainability
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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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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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Oregon Sea Grant wins three communication awards in international competition

Posted by: | April 25, 2017 Comments Off on Oregon Sea Grant wins three communication awards in international competition |
Oregon Sea Grant has won three awards in the 2017 Hermes Creative Awards competition. “Animal Care at the HMSC Visitor Center” won an Honorable Mention in the Educational Videos category; “Confluence” won Gold in Publications – Newsletters; and “The U.S. West Coast Shellfish Industry’s Perception of and Response to Ocean Acidification” won Platinum in Publications – Reports.
The Hermes Creative Awards are administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. According to Hermes, “AMCP 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.”
This year’s competition attracted about 6,000 entries from around the United States, Canada and numerous other countries, according to Hermes.
under: awards, Confluence, environment, HMSC Visitor Center, news, Oregon Sea Grant, outreach and engagement, publications, shellfish, videos
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Ocean acidification: Oyster industry thinks it’s doing harm

Posted by: | August 26, 2015 Comments Off on Ocean acidification: Oyster industry thinks it’s doing harm |

The public may not be convinced that ocean acidification is a problem, but a growing number of those who make their living off the ocean have become believers.

Becky Mabardy (foreground) and Iria Gimenez working in Waldbusser lab, 2013A new Oregon Sea Grant-funded survey, being published this week in the Journal of Shellfish Research, found that more than 80% of respondents from the US West Coast shellfish industry are convinced that acidification is having consequences – a figure more than four times higher than found among the broader public, researchers say. And about half the industry people surveyed reported having experienced some impact from acidification.

“The shellfish industry recognizes the consequences of ocean acidification for people today, people in this lifetime, and for future generations – to a far greater extent than the U.S. public,” said Rebecca Mabardy, a former OSU graduate student and lead author on the study.”The good news is that more than half of the respondents expressed optimism – at least, guarded optimism – for the industry’s ability to adapt to acidification.

George Waldbusser and Burke Hales inspect oysters at Whiskey Creek HatcheryThe mechanisms causing ocean acidification are complex, and few in the shellfish industry initially understood the science behind the issue, said OSU marine ecologist George Waldbusser,  who has worked with Northwest oyster growers on mitigating the effects of ocean acidification. However, he added, many have developed a rather sophisticated understanding of the basic concepts of carbon dioxide impacts on the ocean and understand the risks to their enterprise.

“Many have seen the negative effects of acidified water on the survival of their juvenile oysters — and those who have experienced a direct impact obviously have a higher degree of concern about the issue,” Waldbusser pointed out. “Others are anticipating the effects of acidification and want to know just what will happen, and how long the impacts may last.

Learn more

under: aquaculture, climate, ocean acidification, Oregon Sea Grant, research, shellfish

Corvallis Science Pub: An acidic ocean?

Posted by: | May 5, 2015 Comments Off on Corvallis Science Pub: An acidic ocean? |

It’s been called the “evil twin” of climate change. As the oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and surface waters become more acidic, changes to marine ecosystems are likely to follow. Coral reefs, shell-forming organisms and the fish and marine mammals that depend on them are at risk.

At the May 11 Corvallis Science Pub, George Waldbusser will describe what scientists know about the biological effects of ocean acidification. The Science Pub presentation is free and open to the public. It begins at 6 p.m. at the Old World Deli, 341 S.W. 2nd St. in Corvallis.

On average, the oceans are about 30 percent more acidic today than they were a century ago, and impacts are already being seen along the West Coast. Waldbusser and his students have turned their attention to the region’s oyster industry, which had $73 million in sales in 2009.

Oyster larvae are sensitive to acidification and Waldbusser, an assistant professor in Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, is working to understand why.

“With larval oysters, what we see are developmental issues,” he said. “From the time eggs are fertilized, Pacific oyster larvae will precipitate roughly 90 percent of their body weight as a calcium carbonate shell within 48 hours.”

His research has been supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oregon Sea Grant and other agencies.

Learn more:

 

under: aquaculture, climate, ocean acidification, research, Science Pub, shellfish

Oyster die-offs – a new culprit?

Posted by: | November 18, 2014 Comments Off on Oyster die-offs – a new culprit? |
Oysters at Whiskey Creek hatchery

Oysters at Whiskey Creek hatchery

For years, research into West Coast oyster hatchery die-offs has pointed the finger at Vibrio tubiashii. Now Oregon State University researchers believe a different, but related, bacterium – V. coralliilyticus – may be the real culprit.

The findings were published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, by researchers from OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Rutgers University. The research was supported by the USDA.

“These bacteria are very similar, they’re close cousins,” said Claudia Häse, an OSU associate professor and expert in microbial pathogenesis. “V. coralliilyticus was believed to primarily infect warm water corals and contributes to coral bleaching around the world. It shares some gene sequences with V. tubiashii, but when we finally were able to compare the entire genomes, it became apparent that most of what we’re dealing with in the Pacific Northwest is V. coralliilyticus.”

Scientists now say that V. coralliilyticus is not only far more widespread than previously believed, but that it can infect a variety of fish, shellfish and oysters, including rainbow trout and larval brine shrimp. And it appears to be the primary offender in bacterial attacks on Pacific Northwest oyster larvae.

Häse’s previous work with Chris Langdon of OSU’s Molluscan Broodstock Lab has been supported in part by Oregon Sea Grant, which has also worked with Northwest shellfish growers to help them rebound from oyster die-offs. By learning to counter the effects of increasingly acidic seawater, which prevents larval oysters from forming the shells they need to survive, many hatcheries have seen production return.

But while hatchery stocks are recovering, the scientists say bacterial infections remain a real problem for oysters – and other organisms – in the wild.

“Although we’ve largely addressed the problems the hatcheries face, these bacteria continue to pose threats to wild oysters,” Häse said. “And corals are still declining in many places, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is dying at an alarming rate. Better diagnostics might help in all of these situations.”

Learn more

 

under: aquaculture, research, shellfish, water quality

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