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.

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OSU secures critical funding to continue ocean acidification research

Oregon State University will receive funds that will help the West Coast’s shellfish industry in its fight against ocean acidification, thanks largely to the efforts of Oregon state Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose). Receipt of these funds will give a critical boost to Oregon State University’s and the shellfish industry’s efforts to reduce the negative impacts of ocean acidification on shellfish production.

House Bill 5008 allocated $250,000 to Oregon State University. A portion of the funds will be used to continue OSU’s efforts to improve the resilience of oyster to ocean acidification through its selective breeding program at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. The remaining funds will be dedicated to OSU’s collaboration with industry leaders at the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery (see “The Whiskey Creek Shellfish Acid Tests” in the current issue of Confluence) on Netarts Bay as they continue to identify better ways to manage the negative effects of ocean acidification on shellfish larvae.

You can read the rest of this story here.

Summer issue of Confluence magazine now online

The summer 2013 issue of Oregon Sea Grant’s magazine, Confluence, is now online at

Articles in this issue, which focuses on aquaculture in Oregon, include “The Whiskey Creek Shellfish Acid Tests,” “Priced out of our own seafood,” and “The traveling ornamental defender.”

Deadlines have been set for a number of fellowships

Check out several new fellowship opportunities, including the newly announced 2014 Knauss Fellowship:

Current opportunities

Want to find out more what it’s like to be an Oregon Sea Grant Scholar? 

Autumn issue of Confluence explores ocean science learning

Free-choice learning and ocean literacy are the theme of the autumn issue of Confluence, the three-times-a-year magazine from Oregon Sea Grant.

The issue includes articles on exciting research taking place at the Hatfield Marine Science Center to investigate how people learn in aquariums, museums and other places when the choice of what, when and how quickly to learn is under their control. Additional stories look at OSU’s academic programs in free-choice learning, including a new online master’s degree in free-choice science, technology, engineering and math (STEM learning),   Lincoln County’s efforts to make its public school teachers and students among the most ocean-literate in the country, and our Oregon Coast QUESTS self-guided adventures.

The autumn issue rounds out the magazine’s first year, and includes an online survey asking readers to let us know how they use the publication, how they prefer to receive it, and what ocean and coastal topics interest them most.

The online version of Confluence includes a number of extras, including additional articles, video from the Free-Choice Learning Lab, and an interview with Sea Grant Knauss Fellow Jennifer Dresler about her year working  in Washington, D.C.

Learn more


New Confluence looks at Oregon Fisheries

Confluence: Science & Fishermen Working TogetherOregon’s Fisheries: Scientists and Fishermen Working Together is the theme of the summer edition of Confluence, Oregon Sea Grant’s new magazine, available now in print and online.

The cover story, “You Talk and You Change the World,” highlights Sea Grant’s fruitful efforts to connect  Oregon’s coastal fishing communities with ocean and coastal researchers. Written by Nathan Gilles (the program’s 2011 communications intern, now a working journalist), the story traces more than a decade of work by Sea Grant Extension agents such as Ginny Goblirsch to get fishermen and scientists talking – and listening – to each other in small, regular, informal meetings. The resulting Scientist and Fishermen Exchange (SAFE) program provides researchers with the experience-proven insights and knowledge of those who spend their lives working with marine resources – and occasionally with valuable opportunities to conduct research directly from fishing vessels. At the same time, fishermen gain early access to research results, and the opportunity to play a part in the science that helps shape marine resource policy.

Additional articles look at new seafood processing techniques that are generating products, markets and jobs on the south coast, recent discoveries about how hypoxic “dead zones” may be affecting the reproductive capacity of certain fish and other organisms, and a surprising discovery by Sea Grant researcher Guillermo Giannico about where some Willamette Valley salmon spend their winters.

Published three times a year, the new magazine is available – with added video and other content not included in the print edition – at, where a downloadable .pdf version is also available. Print copies are also available, free, by emailing (please include a name and mailing address).