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Archive for marine animals

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 video reveals how aquarists care for animals at HMSC Visitor Center

Posted by: | May 10, 2017 Comments Off on New video reveals how aquarists care for animals at HMSC Visitor Center |

Have you ever wondered how aquarists care for the animals at the Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitor Center? Now you can learn all about it, by watching this fascinating, award-winning video from Oregon Sea Grant: Animal Care at the Hatfield Marine Science Center’s Visitor Center.

The full video (15:45) comprises six discrete segments, starting with a behind-the-scenes tour of the area where new and sick animals are quarantined and treated (0:52). Other segments explain how aquarists feed the animals (3:54), take care of the octopus on display (7:10), care for coral (9:27), propagate coral (11:39) and clean the tanks (13:16).

If you’d prefer to watch one or more individual segments rather than the entire video, you may do so by clicking on the appropriate link(s) below:

Oregon Sea Grant operates the Visitor Center, which features interactive exhibits and attracts more than 150,000 visitors each year. It is home to Oregon Sea Grant’s marine education program for K-12 students and teachers.

The video was filmed and edited by Oregon Sea Grant videographer Vanessa Cholewczynski.

under: aquaculture, HMSC Visitor Center, marine animals, Oregon Sea Grant, ornamental fish, videos
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OSU to host Marine Science Day this Saturday, April 8

Posted by: | April 3, 2017 Comments Off on OSU to host Marine Science Day this Saturday, April 8 |

Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center will hold its annual Marine Science Day on Saturday, April 8, giving visitors an opportunity to see laboratories behind the scenes, interact with student scientists and learn more about current marine research.

The event is free and open to the public, and takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the center, located in Newport southeast of the Highway 101 bridge over Yaquina Bay. It will feature interactive, hands-on exhibits and opportunities to talk with researchers from OSU and other federal and state agencies.

The theme is “Celebrating Student Research,” and student scientists will be among the researchers presenting exhibits on marine mammals, oyster aquaculture, ocean acidification, ocean noise, seagrass ecology, fisheries, deep-sea vents and more. Visitors can learn about research diving with the OSU Dive Team, observe microscopic plankton, tour a genetics lab and hear about the NOAA Corps’ 100th year as a commissioned service.

Special activities for children will be offered by Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The Oregon Coast STEM Hub and representatives from OSU and Oregon Coast Community College will also be available to engage K-12 students interested in pursuing marine studies.

Special events include:

  • A lecture at 2:30 p.m. by José R. Marín Jarrín, Charles Darwin Foundation, Galápagos, Ecuador, on “From Hatfield to the Charles Darwin Foundation: The importance of student research experiences”
  • Opening celebration at 10:30 a.m. for the Experimental Seawater Facility, funded by the National Science Foundation
  • A public feeding of Opal the octopus at 1 p.m. in the Visitors Center

Visitors may also learn about the progress of OSU’s Marine Studies Initiative, which seeks to host 500 students-in-residence in Newport by 2025.

“With a new teaching and research facility in the fundraising and design phase, Marine Science Day offers a great opportunity to understand why we are so excited about OSU’s Marine Studies Initiative,” said Bob Cowen, director of the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

“It is also a chance to learn about our scientists – who we are, what we do, and how we, as university, state and federal partners, work together and with communities to better understand and solve our marine and coastal challenges.”

More information about the event is available here.

(From a news release provided by Maryann Bozza, HMSC)

Photo caption: An octopus will be among the many exhibits and activities during Marine Science Day at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)

 

under: HMSC Visitor Center, kids, marine animals, marine education, marine science, news, NOAA, ocean literacy, oceanography, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, science education
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New edition of Confluence now available

Posted by: | October 11, 2016 Comments Off on New edition of Confluence now available |

The fall/winter 2016 edition of Oregon Sea Grant’s semiannual newsletter, Confluence, is now available online. Articles you’ll find in this issue:

  • Guidelines help boaters enjoy watching whales without disturbing them;
  • University of Oregon study reveals why hypoxia hasn’t affected Coos Bay;
  • Simulator helps coastal residents prepare tsunami evacuation strategy;
  • Students get their feet wet in watershed science with StreamWebs;
  • Oregon Sea Grant helps prepare coastal kids for high-tech jobs; and
  • When human health affects environmental health.

You can download a free PDF here.

Oregon Sea Grant's semiannual newsletter

under: citizen science, climate, coastal hazards, Columbia River, Confluence, courses, classes and workshops, earthquake, ecology, engineering, environment, HMSC Visitor Center, k-12 teachers, kids, marine animals, marine education, marine mammals, ocean literacy, Oregon Sea Grant, outreach and engagement, people, public communication, publications, science education, Sea Grant Scholars, social science, STEM education, tsunami, whales
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Winds drive jellyfish-like creatures onto Oregon beaches

Posted by: | April 14, 2015 Comments Off on Winds drive jellyfish-like creatures onto Oregon beaches |
Velella velella blown ashore by prevailing winds, Fort Stevens State Park, April 2015

Velella velella blown ashore by prevailing winds, Fort Stevens State Park, April 2015 (photo by Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium)

Striking blue sea creatures, Velella velella, have washed up by the thousands on Oregon beaches including at Seaside, Manzanita, Astoria and Rockaway Beach in recent days, tourism officials report.

The small jellyfish-like animals normally live out at sea, floating on its surface. But every spring, thousands get blown by strong westerly winds onto the sands of Oregon, California and Washington and die, said Bill Hanshumaker, a senior instructor at the Hatfield Marine Science Center and chief scientist for Oregon Sea Grant.

When strong westerly winds blow over the Pacific coastline, Velella velella are swept by the thousands onto beaches including those at Seaside and Manzanita. They are often called By-the-wind Sailors, because they have their own small sails and move with the wind.

Velella velella (vuh-lell-uh vuh-lell-uh) can be beautiful to look at but start to give off a fishy smell as they decay. They don’t sting people who touch them, but experts at Oregon State University advise against walking barefoot through a pile of them because they contain a mild neurotoxin.

Learn more

under: marine animals, news, publications

Shark Day coming at HMSC

Posted by: | January 20, 2015 Comments Off on Shark Day coming at HMSC |
Shark Day 2011

Shark Day 2011

NEWPORT – Did you know more than 30 species of sharks can be found off the Pacific Northwest coastline? Learn more about them this Saturday, Jan 24, as the Hatfield Marine Science Center celebrates our annual Shark Day!

Stop by the Center between 10 am and 4 pm for shark-themed exhibits, biofacts, films and kid-friendly activities related to these fascinating sea creatures.

Afraid of sharks? How about vending machines? You might be surprised to learn which is more dangerous to humans!

Make sure to be here at 1:30 pm. to watch and listen as Dr. Bill Hanshumaker, Oregon Sea Grant’s chief scientist at the Visitor Center, conducts a necropsy on a salmon shark and talks about the animal’s biology, life cycle and habits.

Learn more:

under: events, HMSC Visitor Center, marine animals, marine education, ocean literacy, sharks

Environmental Drivers May be Adding to Loss of Sea Stars

Posted by: | July 24, 2014 Comments Off on Environmental Drivers May be Adding to Loss of Sea Stars |

Sea Star in advanced stage of SSWSNEWPORT – The rapid loss of sea stars along the US west coast may be caused in part by environmental changes, and not solely by a specific pathogen as many had previously thought.

This new hypothesis emerged from a recent symposium on sea star wasting syndrome (SSWS) hosted at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. Oregon Sea Grant enlisted the Center’s support to bring together 40 top researchers from as far north as Alaska and as far south as Santa Barbara, California. The goal was to clarify the science and develop recommendations for further research, monitoring and possible responses to SSWS.

“I think we can all agree that this is one of the biggest epidemics ever in the ocean in terms of range and the number of species,” said Drew Harvell, a researcher from Cornell who is on sabbatical at Friday Harbor Labs in Washington.

SSWS is the name for a series of symptoms exhibited as a sea star “wastes” away and ultimately dies. Other outbreaks have been observed in the 1970s and 1990s, but despite similar symptoms there are some key differences. The current outbreak—which began in 2013—continued throughout the winter, which has never before been observed, in addition to occurring on a much larger geographic scale.

Through the symposium, researchers from different fields—ecologists, pathologists, veterinarians, and more—joined forces to piece together what is known about the disappearing stars. New evidence has failed to show consistent signs of either bacterial or viral infections, leading scientists to question whether a single pathogen is the culprit. In addition, they noticed correlations between warmer average water temperatures and the syndrome’s appearance.

“Increases in temperature lead to a cascade of oceanographic changes, ultimately leading to lower pH,” said Bruce Menge, an OSU researcher who studies the intertidal zone.

Under this hypothesis, the lower pH would deteriorate the protective outer layers of the sea star. The stars would then struggle to balance their internal concentration of salt and water and would slowly waste away. The increased acidity could also cause calcified bone-like support structures—called ossicles—to erode once exposed.

A similar idea is that the warming temperatures and lower pH could stress the animal and weaken its immune system. After that, any number of pathogens could be responsible for causing the animals to waste and die.

“It’s possible that sea stars only have a limited suite of ways to show they are stressed,” said Mike Murray, a veterinarian from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

A number of ocean conditions – upwelling, for instance – can cause pockets of warmer or cooler water. This variation could explain why a few areas of the west coast have thus far escaped the outbreaks for the most part.

Symposium participants agreed that the exact cause of the outbreak remains a mystery. While environmental drivers are getting new attention, the idea of an infectious disease is still prominent. Harvell and her colleagues are working to identify exactly which pathogen could cause SSWS. All of these potential hypotheses provide testable research questions for future studies.

Going forward, attendees are writing group documents to summarize both what is known and what further actions need to be taken to investigate these and other hypotheses. The papers are expected to be completed in August, and to include suggestions for how to best locate and compare existing environmental data, in addition to encouraging more directed monitoring.

Learn more

To find out more about SSWS, or to get involved in the monitoring, visit these sites with information on citizen science programs near you:

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Sea Star Wasting Syndrome Timeline:

  • 1976-79: A devastating SSWS event took out large numbers of sea stars along the west coast. It was believed to be a bacterial event due to the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment.
  • 1983-84: SSWS was found in areas with warmer waters as a result of an intense El Nino event. The outbreak spread to other echinoderms  such as sea urchins. Cold winter temperatures halted the spread.
  • 1997-98: Another round of SSWS hit, also spurred by an intense El Nino, but subsided in the winter like previous events.
  • June 2013: The current bout of SSWS was discovered in Olympic National Park in Washington.
  • October/November 2013: Sea stars began dying in large numbers in Monterey, CA.
  • December 2013: SSWS was detected at sites ranging from Alaska to San Diego. Oregon seemed immune at this point for unknown reasons.
  • January 2014: Despite the fact that previous SSWS events subsided during the winter,  the current outbreak continued to spread, especially in southern California.
  • April 2014: While SSWS spread widely along the California and Washington coasts, less than 1% of Oregon stars exhibited signs of the disease.
  • May 2014: About halfway through the month, the percentage of stars exhibiting SSWS skyrocketed in Oregon to between 40 and 60 percent of the populations surveyed.
  • June 2014: Researchers convened at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, OR, to discuss what is known and what should be done about SSWS.
under: climate, conferences, ecology, environment, marine animals, Oregon State University, research

“Stranded” seal pups probably aren’t

Posted by: | May 23, 2014 Comments Off on “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.

Learn more:

under: beach safety, marine animals, marine mammals, Posters

Field guide helps you identify aquatic invaders

Posted by: | May 22, 2014 Comments Off on 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.

under: ecology, environment, invasive species, marine animals, marine education, marine science, news, Oregon Sea Grant, publications, regional projects, science education, sustainability
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