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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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Waldport High students help NOAA track ocean currents

Posted by: | November 13, 2014 Comments Off on Waldport High students help NOAA track ocean currents |
R/V Oceanus crew launches Waldport High's drifter (photo by Jeff Crews)

R/V Oceanus crew launches Waldport High’s drifter (photo by Jeff Crews)

WALDPORT – Students at Waldport High School are excited about today’s successful launch of their unmanned sailboat, Phyxius, near the Equator by OSU’s R/V Oceanus, as part of a long-term national  project to better understand ocean currents and transport patterns.

The project, organized by Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, is part of  NOAA’s Educational Passages program, which enlists science, technology, engineering and math classes to build the miniature vessels and set them loose in ocean and coastal waters – and follow them via a NOAA tracking site to see where they go. More than 40 of the drifters have been launched since the program began in 2008.

The unmanned mini-sailboats are self-steering and equipped with GPS tracking devices to study ocean and wind patterns and much more. The five-foot vessels sail directly downwind month after month. As these boats travel the oceans, students can track them via http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/drifter/ and learn and improve their skills in map reading, geography, earth science, oceanography and more.

Waldport’s is just the third drifter to be launched in the Pacific. Most of the others have been launched into the Atlantic, Caribbean or Gulf of Mexico. Drifters have landed in Europe, the Caribbean, Cuba, Bahamas, Panama, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia as well as many other places. Some have left Portugal and closely duplicated Columbus’s route to the new world, and another spent time on display in an Irish pub.

under: kids, marine education, NOAA, ocean literacy, oceanography, STEM education

Register-Guard: Changing ocean chemistry threatens marine life

Posted by: | September 23, 2013 Comments Off on Register-Guard: Changing ocean chemistry threatens marine life |

The Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery on the state’s north coast watched oyster larvae die en masse for three years in a row in the mid-2000s — depriving oyster farms along the entire West Coast of seed oysters.

Florence crabber Al Pazar saw baby octopuses, an inch or two long, climb up his crab lines to escape the sea waters in the 2005 season. When he pulled up his pots, the crab were dead.

Eugene fisherman Ryan Rogers, who drags in great piles of salmon on an Alaska purse seiner, has instead brought up nets full of jellyfish in recent years.

“Sometimes we’ll catch 4,000 or 5,000 pounds of jellyfish. They spray all around. We get stung,” he said. “It makes it difficult to bring your net in. You have to let it go and lose the salmon that are in your net.”

Scientists — including many at Oregon State University — are beginning to define the cause of these events. They call it ocean acidification and hypoxia.

Wind, currents and ocean chemistry conspire to create pools of corrosive waters that can be lethal to key commercial species in Northwest waters — and favorable to some nuisance species, such as jellyfish. …

The Eugene Register-Guard examines what OSU scientists – some of them working with Oregon Sea Grant funding – are learning about the causes and consequences of ocean acidification.

Learn more:

under: Confluence, marine science, ocean acidification, oceanography, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, research, shellfish

Student ROV design and engineering regionals set for May 4

Posted by: | April 29, 2013 Comments Off on Student ROV design and engineering regionals set for May 4 |

Student launches an ROV during last year's Oregon Regional competitionLINCOLN City – More than 100 junior high, high school and college students will converge on the Lincoln Community Center this Saturday (May 4) to compete in the Oregon Regional Marine Advanced Technology ROV Competition – and a chance to advance to the international finals.

Teams from Albany, Astoria, Corbett, Corvallis, The Dalles, Eddyville, Lincoln City, Salem, Toledo, Portland and Waldport are expected for the competition which runs from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m. at the community center, 2150 NE Oar Place. The event is open to the public.

Competing teams, ranging from 6th grade to college age, have designed and built tethered underwater robots known as remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs. The annual competition is sponsored by Oregon Sea Grant, the OregonCoast STEM Center, and the Oregon Chapter of the Marine Technology Society, and is intended to encourage Oregon students to learn and apply science, technology, engineering and math skills.

Full-scale ROVs are widely used in scientific research,  ocean exploration, homeland security, the offshore oil and gas industry, and other industries.  This year’s contest highlights the role ROVs play in the installation, operation, and maintenance of ocean observing systems,  collections of high-tech instruments above and below the waves that provide around-the-clock information about what is happening in the ocean. Via fiber optic cable, the data collection equipment continuously communicates information to scientists, engineers and technicians who use it to understand and make predictions about the ocean, coast, and ocean resources. Ocean Observing Systems provide critical information on climate change, toxic algal blooms, tsunamis and other ocean hazards.

Competing teams must pilot their ROVs to perform a variety of underwater mission tasks, from installing a simulated power and communications “hub” and scientific instruments in order to complete a seafloor ocean observatory to removing bio-fouling organisms from instruments and performing maintenance on moorings.

The winning team will advance to the 12th annual MATE International ROV Competition, June 20-22 in Federal Way, Wash.

The regional MATE program, one of 22 such competitions around the world, is supported by local sponsors including the Marine Technology Society, the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Center, OSU’s Pre-College Programs, Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators, the Siletz Tribe Charitable Funds, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Pro-Build, Advanced Research Corporation, and the NOAA Officers Family Association. Local marine technology professionals volunteer as judges for the competition, evaluating the students’ ROVs, poster displays, and engineering presentations.

under: marine education, marine science, ocean literacy, oceanography, science education, technology

OSU researcher seeks better rip current forecasts

Posted by: | February 27, 2013 Comments Off on OSU researcher seeks better rip current forecasts |

Rip current warning signRip currents – strong channels of water flowing seaward from the shore – kill more Americans than do hurricanes. Caught off guard, people are swept out to sea, where they exhaust themselves swimming against the pull of the strong, outrushing current, and drown.

While scientists and the National Weather Service have made progress predicting the probability of rip currents in given locations, they so far lack a method ot accurately forecast whether and when they’ll actually occur, and how strong they might be.

Oregon State University’s Tuba Ozkan-Haller is hoping to change all that. For the last five years, she’s been working to develop a model to identify the location of rip currents up to a day in advance – something that would be a boon to swimmers, surfers and lifeguards around the world, and could save hundreds of lives a year.

Ozkan-Haller, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences, surveys the topography of the ocean floor to figure out how waves will travel over it; this allows her to see how that mass of water can escape back from shore via a rip current. She plugs these factors into a mathematical model she developed that predicts where and when rip currents will occur – and how strong they will be.

Helping her efforts are cutting-edge surveying technologies that allow her to observe properties at the water’s surface and infer the underlying bathymetry from those observations. This is a much more efficient and accurate way to get a sense of the sea floor than the standard procedure of surveying from a boat.

“I’m totally floored by how well we can do compared to traditional surveying methods,” says Ozkan-Haller. “You can set up a radar system near a beach and get continuous estimates of the bathymetry as it evolves from day to day without ever stepping foot into the water.”

The rip current effort is part of Ozkan-Haller’s broader interest in underwater coastal topography and how it helps shape the ocean’s waves. Oregon Sea Grant has supported some of that work, including a related project to develop a model for predicting nearshore wave patterns and heights. A reliable wave forecast system would benefit navigation, fishing, transportation, beach safety and even wave-energy siting.

Learn more:

under: beach safety, marine education, marine safety, oceanography, Oregon Sea Grant, research

OSU to take lead in designing new NSF research ships

Posted by: | January 31, 2013 Comments Off on OSU to take lead in designing new NSF research ships |

R/V Oceanus, OSU's current primary research vesselOregon State University has been chosen to lead a project to design and build as many as three new coastal research vessels, the first multi-ship expansion of the National Science Foundation’s academic research fleet since the 1970s, and one intended to boost the marine science research capabilities of the United States.

The new vessels, which could take a decade to design, build and equip, will become part of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System, the nationwide program which provides research-capable ships to universities which could not afford to build and own the vessels themselves in order to advance the nation’s marine science capacity.

OSU initially will receive nearly $3 million to coordinate the design phase of the project – and if funds are appropriated for all three vessels, the total grant is projected to reach $290 million over 10 years. The first phase of the project is scheduled to begin early this year. The final number of ships constructed, and where the vessels will be berthed, will be determined by the NSF based on geographic scientific requirements and availability of funding.

If all three vessels are built, it is likely that one each would be positioned on the East Coast, West Coast and Gulf Coast, officials say. As part of its proposal to lead the effort, OSU proposed to be the operator of the first vessel.

Distributing the vessels geographically allows scientists from all over the country to book research cruise time from locations nearest to the ocean and coastal areas they are studying.

The university now operates the R/V Oceanus, which replaced the R/V Wecoma when it was retired from service last year and sent away to be scrapped. Both vessels dated to the mid 1970s, and the Oceanus is expected to be ready for retirement about the time the new research vessels become available.

A project team led by Oregon State’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences will finalize the design for the 175-foot long, technically enhanced Regional Class ships, select a shipyard, oversee construction, and coordinate the system integration, testing, commissioning and acceptance, and transition to operations.

“These will be floating, multi-use laboratories that are flexible and can be adapted for different scientific purposes, yet are more seaworthy and environmentally ‘green’ than previous research vessels,” said Mark Abbott, dean of the OSU College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. “These ships will be used to address critical issues related to climate change, ocean circulation, natural hazards, human health, and marine ecosystems.”

OSU vice president for research Rick Spinrad, who previously directed research programs for the U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said the new vessels would “revitalize and transform” coastal ocean science in the United States.

“Many of the most pressing issues facing our oceans are in these coastal regions, including acidification, hypoxia, tsunami prediction, declining fisheries, and harmful algal blooms,” Spinrad said. “Because of their flexibility, these new vessels will attract a broad range of users and will become ideal platforms to training early-career scientists and mariners.”

The project had the support of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s Office, noted OSU President Ed Ray, who said the university will benefit from the process long before the first ship hits the water in 2019 or 2020.

The successful OSU proposal was submitted to the National Science Foundation by Clare Reimers, an oceanography professor, and Demian Bailey, the university’s marine superintendent. As part of that submission, OSU proposed to be the operator of the first vessel. Additional operating institutions will be determined once the total number of vessels to be built is known.

“The National Science Foundation hasn’t authorized a multi-ship project since the 1970s,” Bailey said, “and these are likely the only ships scheduled by NSF to be built during the next decade – so this is a big deal. The endurance and size of the new ships will be similar to that of Oceanus and Wecoma but they will be much more efficient and have far greater scientific capacity and flexibility.”

Learn more

under: engineering, marine science, news, oceanography, Oregon State University, research, technology

Public forum aims to demystify ocean acidification, hypoxia

Posted by: | October 18, 2012 Comments Off on Public forum aims to demystify ocean acidification, hypoxia |

How is Oregon's ocean affected by hypoxia and acidification?TILLAMOOK – Hypoxia and ocean acidification get a lot of press, but how many people know what these phenomena are, what causes them and what they mean for marine species and coastal communities? Now’s the chance to find out, in an Oct. 23 public forum that aims to take some of the mystery out of the science behind measuring, understanding and minimizing the effects of of these ocean conditions.

The forum, starting at 6:30 pm in rooms 214-215 at Tillamook Bay Community College, 4301 3rd St., is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required. For more information, visit the PISCO Website.

Organized by the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of the Ocean (PISCO) and Oregon Sea Grant, the forum will focus on cutting edge research by scientists from many disciplines, and how resource managers and industries are responding.  A series of speakers will address:

  • The definitions of ocean acidification and coastal hypoxia, and how they are related – Francis Chan, OSU Zoology/PISCO
  • Why this is happening off our coast and what makes Oregon vulnerable – Burke Hales, OSU College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences (CEOAS).
  • How scientists are monitoring the ocean for these changes – Jack Barth (CEOAS/PISCO)
  • The impacts of acidification on shellfish hatcheries – Alan Barton (Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery)

Speakers will be followed by a question-and-answer panel featuring scientists and representatives of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The event is hosted by PISCO through funding from Oregon Sea Grant.

under: ecology, environment, events, fisheries, marine science, ocean acidification, oceanography, science education, symposium

HMSC volunteers return to sea – and blogging

Posted by: | October 4, 2012 Comments Off on HMSC volunteers return to sea – and blogging |

Michael Courtney and Annie Thorp aboard the RV Wecoma, 2011NEWPORT – Michael Courtney and Annie Thorp, longtime volunteers at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, return to sea this week as support crew for Dr. Clare Reimers, an ocean ecologist and biogeochemist with OSU’s Colleage of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, who is studying the role of seafloor processes in ocean chemical cycles, the influences of low oxygen conditions on ocean biology, geology and chemistry, and new electrochemical tools for ocean observing networks.

Courtney and Thorp, who are husband and wife, have been volunteering at the HMSC Visitor Center since their retirement and have offered their services to shipboard research teams since 2009. They plan to once again chronicle their adventures in words and photographs through their blog, Buoy Tales.

As they wrote at the end of last year’s cruise with Dr. Reimers’ team, “Science is not just sitting in a warm, stable lab. It is also hard, hard work. Collecting the necessary data means being cold, wet, getting dirty, laying on a rough, rolling deck adjusting sensitive equipment, taking samples in an enclosed van under a dim red light, and working in a lab that won’t stand still.”

This voyage will be on board the R/V Oceanus, OSU’s new research vessel. The research team is loading and setting up equipment today, and expects to depart tomorrow for a cruise lasting until Oct. 15, taking the science team to the waters of the the continental shelf off the Pacific Northwest coast.

Learn more:

under: blogs, oceanography, people, research

OSU unveils new maps of Oregon ocean

Posted by: | April 24, 2012 Comments Off on OSU unveils new maps of Oregon ocean |

Map of sea floor off Cape AragoCORVALLIS – After more than two years of intense field work and digital cartography, researchers have unveiled new maps of the seafloor off Oregon that cover more than half of the state’s territorial waters – a collaborative project that will provide new data for scientists, marine spatial planners, and the fishing industry.

The most immediate benefit will be improved tsunami inundation modeling for the Oregon coast, according to Chris Goldfinger, director of the Active Tectonics and Seafloor Mapping Laboratory at Oregon State University, who led much of the field work.

“Understanding the nature of Oregon’s Territorial Sea is critical to sustaining sport and commercial fisheries, coastal tourism, the future of wave energy, and a range of other ocean-derived ecosystem services valued by Oregonians,” Goldfinger said. “The most immediate focus, though, is the threat posed by a major tsunami.

“Knowing what lies beneath the surface of coastal waters will allow much more accurate predictions of how a tsunami will propagate as it comes ashore,” he added. “We’ve also found and mapped a number of unknown reefs and other new features we’re just starting to investigate, now that the processing work is done.”

The mapping project was a collaborative effort of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, David Evans and Associations, and Fugro. It was funded by NOAA and the Oregon Department of State Lands.

The primary mapping platform was the vessel Pacific Storm, operated by the OSU Marine Mammal Institute. Oregon-based fishing vessels taking part in Oregon Sea Grant’s Scientist and Fisherman Exchange program – the F/V Michelle Ann, the F/V Delma Ann, and the F/V Miss Linda – assisted with ground truth sampling and video surveys.

under: earthquake, marine reserves, marine science, marine spatial planning, oceanography, research, tsunami

Sea Grant teams with state agencies to prepare for Japanese quake debris

Posted by: | February 2, 2012 Comments Off on Sea Grant teams with state agencies to prepare for Japanese quake debris |
Model of possible debris dispersal - image courtesy of NOAA

Model of possible debris dispersal (image courtesy of NOAA)

As the one-year anniversary of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami nears, Oregon Sea Grant is teaming with state and local agencies, non-governmental groups and marine scientists to prepare for the possible arrival of earthquake debris on Oregon shores.

In a conference call this week, the group heard that state and county leaders, OSU Extension and the Hatfield Marine Science Center are receiving growing numbers of  questions about the debris currently floating toward US coastlines, and began charting a communication strategy to help answer those questions.

OSU oceanographer Jack Barth, an expert in ocean currents, said the debris is still months away from making West Coast landfall, although  occasional buoyant items might move more quickly.  In October, a Russian ship discovered a small Japanese fishing boat in the waters north of Hawaii, and it was definitively tied to the tsunami, Barth said. “It was about where we thought it should be, given the currents.”

Many questions about the debris have to do with concerns that it might be radioactive, given the the incidents at Japan’s Dai-ichi nuclear plant that followed the earthquake. Kathryn Higley, professor and head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics at OSU, said the lag time between the tsunami and the nuclear incident, coupled with the vastness of the ocean, makes it unlikely that the debris will pose any radioactive risk. The material has been tossed by wind and sea for months now, Higley said, and most traces of radioactive elements will have washed into the sea. “While we may be able to detect trace amounts of radioactive material on this debris, it’s really unlikely that there will be any substantial radiation risk,” she said.

Meanwhile, Oregon Sea Grant’s marine Extension specialists on the coast have been working with multiple public and private partners, from state and local governments to conservation and fishing industry groups, to map out a communication strategy for the debris landing.

Jamie Doyle, Sea Grant Extension specialist in in Coos and Curry counties, said one concern is what happens to personal effects that survive the ocean crossing and wind up on Oregon shores, where they may be found by beachcombers.

“A lot of people lost their lives, and many people still have family members who are missing,” Doyle said. “We need to be sensitive to the possibility of finding something that may be of personal significance to someone in Japan.”

The Seattle office of the Consulate General of Japan has asked that those who find something that could  be considered a personal keepsake or artifact report it to local authorities, or to  the consulate in Seattle at 206-682-9107.

Patrick Corcoran, Sea Grant’s Astoria-based Coastal Hazards specialist, said Oregon’s focus thus far has been on research and “building the capacity to respond” to the arrival of the debris. Specific information will be forthcoming, he said.

Learn more:

 

under: coastal hazards, environment, Extension, marine debris, marine safety, NOAA, oceanography, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, outreach and engagement, public communication

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