HMSC Currents

OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center Staff Newsletter

HMSC Currents

Celebration of Life for Dr. Lavern Weber

July 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized


All are welcome to attend a Celebration of Life for Dr. Lavern Weber, who served as HMSC director for over 25 years.
When: 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 26

Where: Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center in Newport, OR. ( Map to HMSC )

Condolences and memories may be sent to Lavern’s family via the email address:

For more information about Dr. Weber’s life, see

In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to the OSU Foundation for the Lavern Weber Visiting Scientist Fund ( or for the COMES Founders’ Scholarship Fund ). 

 Please note: If you would like to volunteer to help at this event, please email


Summer Kickoff BBQ

July 15th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized



Last Thursday, Hatfield Marine Science Center’s newest group of summer session students and interns joined grad students and faculty for HsO’s (Hatfield Student Organization) “Summer Kickoff Barbecue”. HsO functions as a resource for all students at Hatfield to provide better communication between students and staff, include opportunities for research and professional development as well as acting as an advocate for student needs.

The BBQ, held in the HMSC Housing Pavilion outside of HMSC’s dormitory area, provided plenty of great food, games and opportunities for students and interns to get to know one another. Many grad students brought information with them on the projects they were working on at Hatfield, as well as contact information for interested interns and students. The accessibility of the graduate students for questions and creating connections was commented on by interns and students alike as “invaluable”, especially regarding research experiences and advice for undergraduates.

Once the brats and burgers were cooked, the group enjoyed a variety of cooperative games including relay races and “cheetoh face”, and a good time was had by all.

In addition to the Summer Kickoff BBQ and other seasonal events, Hatfield Student Organization also regularly holds an “HMSC Donut Break” social for staff and students to mingle and enjoy donuts and coffee.

PicMonkey Collage

Left: Students line up to try and successfully catch Cheetohs on their whipped cream-covered faces during “Cheetoh Face”.
Right: A group eagerly awaits the signal to begin their relay race.


Where Have All the Sea Stars Gone?

July 2nd, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

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Purple ochre sea star affected by Sea Star Wasting Syndrome.

The Hatfield Marine Science Center recently hosted a symposium, Sea Star Wasting Syndrome: Status of the Science and Identification of Response Actions. A panel of national experts was gathered for the 2-day event. Stay tuned to HMSC Currents as more information regarding the symposium and Sea Star Wasting Syndrome becomes available.

 Where have all the sea stars gone? The haunting and evocative Peter, Paul, and Mary melody from the sixties about the flowers, is playing in my head. We just returned from walk on our beach and were looking for sea stars in a place called Fishing Rock. We usually could find dozens, sometimes hundreds, always too numerous to count, and I loved taking pictures of them, their arms unfurled and sometimes extended in the most amusing and almost human like manner. Their arms were sometimes akimbo and some looked like they were dear friends or lovers holding hands, intertwined in almost passionate appearing embrace. They were like charming old friends, the kind who are always at home when you might happen to drop in for a visit. Like seeing sea gulls, pieces of kelp, agates, and bits of driftwood, the sea stars greeted us without fail. Although their scientific value is yet to be determined, their value as treasured friends and as an intrinsic part of our coastal ecosystem is incalculable in its loss; their charming and ubiquitous presence provided an aesthetic balance to the seascape and tide pool environment. To gaze at rocks with a wide empty swath, like a blackboard partially erased is unsettling, not unlike seeing a painting of a sunset that suddenly and inexplicably has lost its color. Their disappearance is disturbing, distressing, and a disequilibrium of both science and spirit.

 Sea stars are disappearing by the thousands, up and down the Pacific coast, from a syndrome called sea star wasting syndrome. First, there is development of lesions, then entire limbs of the stars fall off, rendering the star incapable of sustenance and unable to sustain life. There are  numerous theories about possible cause from bacterial to viral infection, to toxic food sources, and high water temperatures, though none has been confirmed. So far there are no known cures or interventions, though there are a few protocols begin practiced in some aquariums with some limited success. What this means to the rest of the Pacific ecosystem is unknown. There have been other die offs in the past, but none apparently with the scope and magnitude of the current disaster. Much is being done to study, research, and document this astonishing loss. It is hoped something will be learned that will prove useful as an intervention, yet little is known at this point as the sudden onset and speed of population decimation is unprecedented.
 I  have always believed in the notion that we all can make a difference for the better, and when I was an instructor, I used to share the following essay with my students…
 “Walking along a deserted beach, she saw a man in the distance. He was leaning down, picking something up and throwing it out into the ocean. Upon closer inspection she realized that the native was picking up starfish that had been washed up onto the beach, and one at a time, he was throwing them back into the water. Standing amongst thousands of stars she asked him why he was doing this. “I’m throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see, it’s low tide and if I don’t throw them back into the sea they’ll die from lack of oxygen.” She responded by telling him that it was a futile task, that there was no possible way he could save all of them and and that the situation was probably happening on hundreds of beaches up and down the coast. “Can’t you see that you can’t possibly make a difference?” Bending down and hurling yet another starfish into the sea, he replied, “Made a difference to that one.” (from “One at a Time” by Jack Canfield and Mark V. Hansen)
 This story, and its optimism, fill me with emotion with its poignancy as sea star wasting syndrome seems unrelenting in its ability to erase the entire population of sea stars all along the Pacific coast from Canada to southern California. We are stymied at how to make a difference for the sea stars and as this is being written, the oceanographic science community from aquariums and universities around the country are convening to share what is known, hypothesize what might be done, and develop effective treatment protocols to preserve and save the few remaining intact sea stars we have in captivity.
 I find comfort in the shared concern among science and lay community alike and am heartened  to hear of research and protocols that may help preserve the remaining sea star community housed in aquariums. Our finest scientists are doing their best to make a difference and we will learn more in the coming weeks. The Hatfield Marine Science Center, in Newport, Oregon is among many education and research institutes involved in the most current research. If they can make a difference to one of the sea stars, perhaps the popular refrain, “when will they ever learn?”, from the Peter, Paul, and Mary song, will take on a new and inspired significance.
Annie Thorp, Intrepid Volunteer, HMSC
June 25, 2014
Photo courtesy of Oregon State University Flickr:


Zostera Marina: The Tomas-Nash Lab Work at Hatfield Marine Science Center

June 26th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized


 The Tomas-Nash lab at OSU has been setting up some mesocosms at HMSC to grow eelgrass (Zostera marina) as part of the work they are conducting to study the impacts of different anthropogenic stressors and the role of diversity (genetic, taxonomical and functional) on ecosystem processes (such as herbivory and predation) on eelgrass beds.

 The lab (OSU Faculty Fiona Tomas-Nash, lab manager Jeremy Henderson and MRM student Jen Motley), with the help of OSU Prof. Sally Hacker and Dr. Jim Kaldy (EPA), is conducting field measurements in the field (in Yaquina Bay and other estuaries of the Oregon coast) in order to identify the main species of grazers and predators in OR eelgrass beds and is also carrying out grazing and predation experiments both in the field and in the lab to quantify the influence of consumers on eelgrass ecosystem functioning.


 Part of this research is performed within the framework of the Zostera Experimental Network project (ZEN;, which is a collaborative partnership among ecologists in N America, Europe and Asia to conduct coordinated experimental research to understand the functioning of eelgrass (Zostera marina) ecosystems across the globe.

 If you see Fiona, Jeremy or Jen around the HMSC campus or at their ‘outdoor lab’ near the east wing, stop by to say hello!


From top left to bottom right:
Fiona Tomas-Nast (OSU), Jeremy Henderson (Lab Manager), Jen Motley (MRM Student)


Mixed Compostables – If it Grows, it Goes!

June 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Two informational sessions about curbside composting in Lincoln County will be held at HMSC.

 Note different locations. Both are free and open to the public. Sponsored by the HMSC Sustainability Committee.

Wednesday, June 25, 6pm in the HMSC Visitor Center Auditorium. 
Thursday, June 26, 12-1pm, in the HMSC Guin Library.
Come learn about the new Mixed Compostables program and get your questions
answered at this informative presentation and question-answer session.
Thompson¹s Sanitary and the City of Newport are preparing to bring you a
new service, designed to help our community decrease waste going to the
Landfill. Preparing for a July roll out, Newport Residents will be able to
compost their Yard Debris (lawn clippings, leaves and small branches),
Kitchen Food Scraps, and Food-Soiled Paper all in one cart. Combined with
your Comingled recycling container, much less waste should be going into
your garbage cart destined for the landfill. The State of Oregon has
adopted waste reduction goals for each County in the State and Thompson¹s
Sanitary is proud to assist the City of Newport and Lincoln County in
trying to reach this goal.
Customers of Thompson¹s Sanitary will receive a new, 95 gallon cart
specifically for Organic, Compostable waste as described above when the
program begins (July). Customers will be notified of the actual
distribution of carts.

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Explore Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge by Canoe or Kayak

June 23rd, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites you to explore Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge with a series of twelve guided canoe and kayak trips during June, July, and August 2014.  During these trips visitors will spend about two hours paddling through the heart of Siletz Bay Refuge while learning about its wildlife and natural history.

Participants must provide their own canoe or kayak for each trip. If you don’t have one available, they can be rented from the Siletz Moorage or other venues in the Lincoln City area. During the summer, the area of Siletz River nearest the mouth of the bay often has unpredictable winds and waves.  For this reason we do not recommend this paddle trip for beginners, experience is strongly recommended. For your safety please dress appropriately for paddling in all weather conditions. Wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) is mandatory.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can provide binoculars, field guides, and PFD’s to use during the trip if needed.  Trips are limited in size, and scheduled on a first-come first-serve basis; therefore, you must call or e-mail ahead to make a reservation. Please include the amount of boats in your party when making the reservation. Once you are registered, we will send out additional information regarding the trips.  All trips will launch within 15 minutes of the time listed. Visit our website for updates and space availability

Paddle trips will take place on the following dates:

Thursday, July 3rd: 5:30-7:30 PM

Monday, July 7th: 8:45-10:45 AM

Friday, July 18th: 6:00-8:00 PM

Monday, August 4th: 7:00-9:00 AM

Tuesday, August 5th: 8:00-10:00 AM

Wednesday, August 6th: 9:30-11:30 AM

Saturday, August 16th: 5:30-7:30 PM

Siletz Bay is one of the estuaries located along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway. On either side of Highway 101, starched skeleton trees jut forth from the estuary and are reminiscent of a time when the salt marsh was diked for pasture. Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, and occasionally Bald Eagle can be seen roosting at the top of these snags.  A variety of estuarine dependent birds including Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, and some species of waterfowl can be seen foraging in the tidally influenced waters.  The refuge also provides nursery grounds for Coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout. Don’t miss your chance to participate in our interpretive paddle tour of Siletz Bay Refuge!

To make a reservation contact Meagan Campbell at 541-270-0610 or

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page at


Premiere of Documentary Film Greenland’s Glaciers

June 9th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Greenland’s Glaciers, a documentary film by Saskia Madlener, will premiere at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center on Wednesday, June 18 at 6pm in the Visitor Center Auditorium. The premiere is the evening of the Markham Symposium, as the film is funded in part by the Curtis and Isabella Holt Education Fund - intended to foster education in the marine sciences by providing financial support to undergraduate or graduate students pursuing marine science studies.

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The film follows a team of physical oceanographers as they conduct groundbreaking research on how the ocean interacts with two neighboring glaciers in Western Greenland. Madlener, a master’s student in Marine Resource Management at Oregon State University, will introduce the film and answer questions following the premiere.

Greenland’s Glaciers, which is 20 minutes in length, draws on the filmmaker’s background in environmental science and film production, and was created as part of her research on the role of film in science communication and broader impacts.

Madlener, who had never been to sea before, joined the scientists to document their research expedition in 2013. She funded her equipment and travel expenses through several sources, including traditional ones such as scholarships as well as an innovative online fundraising campaign (

The team of scientists she accompanied, who hailed from Oregon State University, University of Oregon, University of Washington, and The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, gathered in early September of 2013 to embark on a 2-week expedition to study ice-ocean interactions along the coast of Western Greenland. Funded by NASA, the researchers proposed that although there are very apparent climatic influences on the Greenland ice sheet, the ocean may play a more significant role on glacier melting.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.17.36 PMThrough Madlener’s lens the audience gets a first-hand account of how these scientists prepare for and conduct their research comparing two adjacent fjords in which the glaciers are experiencing differential melting—one is melting and receding while the other is holding steady. More importantly, we learn more about who they are, what makes them tick, and what motivates them to devote their lives to challenging research on these complex issues. Data from the expedition will allow them to compare the dynamics in these two fjords to determine what ocean processes may contribute to glacier melting.

The documentary film serves both as a vehicle to conduct her research and as an experimental platform to launch the genre of human-driven narrative in science film. Madlener strongly believes in the importance of developing trust between the viewer and the informant when communicating complex concepts, especially when those concepts are societally relevant such as glacier melt and global sea level rise. “I really want people to feel connected to the three scientists I have chosen to document, but also to life on the boat, to the research, and of course the place – the fjords, the town of Uummannaq, the icebergs, and the glaciers,” said Madlener. “We get an intimate view of this in just 20 minutes, and hopefully that will have a small but poignant impact on people’s understanding of the Greenland ice sheet.”

The film premiere, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Markham Symposium, HMSC’s annual celebration of graduate student research. The Symposium agenda can be found here. The OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center is located at 2030 SE Marine Science Drive in Newport, Oregon. For more information, call 541-867-0234 or go to

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June 6th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

All are invited to attend the 20th annual Markham Research Symposium. The Symposium starts at 10am to 12:30pm in the Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center’s Hennings Auditorium.  The agenda includes a poster session at 10:55am in the hallway behind the Visitor Center, with refreshments served in the Staff Lounge.

The Markham Symposium celebrates OSU student research made possible by donor-funded scholarships. To learn more about scholarships provided by our generous donors, please see:

To contribute to the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center’s scholarship or other funds, go to or call Maryann Bozza at 541-867-0234.

Learn about the latest research being conducted by our talented students at the Markham Symposium!



Blue on Tour Ocean Film Festival Comes to Newport on August 1

June 6th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

The Blue on Tour Ocean Film Festival will come to Oregon for the first time to showcase a collection of world-class marine-themed cinematography this summer.

The Festival opens with a reception hosted at the Oregon Coast Aquarium on Friday, August 1, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. This soirée will include introductions of the films and sustainably sourced seafood appetizers.

Film showings will be hosted at the Newport Performing Arts Center (PAC) in Nye Beach on Saturday, August 2 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with a one and one half hour intermission for lunch.

Tickets for the entire Festival, including refreshments at Friday night’s reception, are $25 per person. Tickets are available at or by calling (541) 867-3474 x5401 between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

The Aquarium organized the festival in partnership with Westwind Stewardship Group (WSG) in hopes that viewers will, in the words of Aquarium President/CEO Carrie Lewis, “Walk away feeling renewed, optimistic and connected to the ocean.”

The Festival’s compilation of cinematography, and discussion panels are designed to change the way guests think about their relationship with the ocean.

The event will be followed by a beach clean-up effort hosted by the Newport Chapter of the SurfRider Foundation on Sunday, August 3 from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. People interested in participating should meet at the Moolack Beach Parking Area with water to stay hydrated, reusable gloves and sturdy footwear. Surfrider will provide participants with refreshments, information and bags to use for the clean-up.

image001Program Timeline:

Friday – Evening

  • Appetizers and refreshments
  • Introduction to films
  • Viewing of Oregon Coast Aquarium facility
  • Visit with exhibitors from Ocean related agencies and organizations; find out what they are doing to support the ocean!

Saturday – Full Day

  • Films
  • Presentation from Sisbro Studios, award winning children’s film producers
  • Discussion Panel
  • Door Prizes

Sunday – Morning (Optional)

  • Beach Clean-up

Registration Information:

Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available online here or by calling (541) 867-3474 x5401 between 9:00a.m. and 6:00p.m.

You may also purchase tickets at the Oregon Coast Aquarium admissions desk during regular business hours.


New! Video of OSTRICH Research Cruise, Day One

June 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Check out the new video of Day One of the OSTRICH Research Cruise, currently underway in the Florida straits!ostrich-logo

The video highlights marine scientists – including HMSC’s Bob Cowen and Su Sponaugle -sampling larvae and plankton and launching ISIIS from aboard the R/V Walton Smith. Scientists are sampling with both ISIIS (In Situ Ichthyoplankton Imaging System) and MOCNESS (Multiple Opening Closing Net and Environmental Sampling System), on an 18-day cruise titled OSTRICH (Observations on Subtropical TRophodynamics of ICHthyoplankton).

Learn more about the science – and how YOU can help as a citizen scientist- at: or connect with the team on Facebook at:

Thank you to videographer Christopher Muina.

See video at:

Video by Christopher Muina:



May issue of Upwelling now available!

June 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

The May issue of HMSC’s newsletter, Upwelling has just been posted. In it we honor Dr. Lavern Weber, our esteemed  and beloved past HMSC Director and Professor Emeritus. We also catch you up on other happenings around HMSC, including recent publications from students, photos from Marine Science Day, Academic Program and Sea Grant news and profiles of volunteers and awardees.


Upwelling is the newsletter of the Friends of the Hatfield Marine Science Center. To become a member, contact HMSC Program Manager Maryann Bozza or go to


Study finds wild coho may seek genetic diversity in mate choice

May 28th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study by researchers at Oregon State University suggests that wild coho salmon that choose mates with disease-resistant genes different from their own are more likely to produce greater numbers of adult offspring returning to the river some three years later.


Genetic sampling – Researchers trap and fin clip this coho salmon on Calapooya Creek, a tributary of the Umpqua River in Oregon, as part of their study of hatchery and wid fish. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)

The researchers also found that hatchery-reared coho – for some unknown reason – do not appear to have the same ability to select mates that are genetically diverse, which may, in part, explain their comparative lower reproductive success.

Results of the study have been published in this month’s Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Funding was provided by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, The Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, Oregon Sea Grant, and the Oregon legislature.

“This is the first study to examine mate choice among wild-spawning fish of both hatchery and wild origin, and the results suggest that greater diversity of immune genes between wild-born pairs of coho salmon may increase offspring survival,” said Amelia Whitcomb, who did the research as a master’s student at OSU and is lead author on the publication.

“These findings, along with future research, may have important implications for hatchery supplementation programs,” added Whitcomb, who now works for the Washington Department of Fish &Wildlife.The key appears to be a suite of genes that include the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which initiates immune response and ultimately provides disease resistance. Other factors, including size and timing of return to fresh water, also determined mate pair reproductive success. MHC genes are well-studied in many organisms, including humans, and have been shown to play a role in how individuals choose mates.

The researchers used genetic parentage analysis to study mating events among adult coho salmon – both wild-born and hatchery-reared – that returned and spawned in a natural context in the Umpqua River in southern Oregon. Adult coho salmon were fin-clipped for genetic identification so they could be linked to their offspring, which returned as adults three years later.


Coho salmon spawn in an Oregon river. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)

The researchers then compared reproductive success, defined as the number of adult offspring returns, from three different categories of naturally spawning mate pairs: two wild parents, two hatchery-reared parents, and a hatchery-reared/wild parent pair.

The study found that wild fish that bred with other wild fish that had dissimilar MHC profiles had an increased success rate compared to wild fish pairings of similar MHC diversity. In addition, wild fish that mated with hatchery fish that had intermediate rates of dissimilarity also had greater reproductive success than wild fish mated with hatchery fish that had little MHC diversity, or the greatest MHC diversity.

However, the mate selection of hatchery-raised fish with other hatchery-raised fish appeared to be totally random, according to Michael Banks, director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resource Studies at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, and co-author on the study. In other words, hatchery-raised fish didn’t appear to select mates based on any kind of genetic profile, “an indiscretion that may ultimately be lowering their reproduction success.”

“Evidence that the MHC is associated with mate choice is common in many species through chemical cues detected by olfaction,” Banks said, “so it isn’t necessarily surprising that selecting for MHC diversity would increase reproductive success in salmon as well. What is puzzling is why hatchery-raised fish appear to have lost that ability.”

Kathleen O’Malley, an assistant professor of fisheries and wildlife at OSU and co-author on the study, cautioned that genetic diversity is just one factor in mate selection and reproductive success.

“The ocean is like a black box for salmon and many factors can play a role in their survival,” said O’Malley, a geneticist with the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station at OSU’s Hatfield Center. “But the strength of this study is that it looks at the bottom line, which is what creates the best chance of success for salmon to produce offspring that survive to return as adults.”

O’Malley said the next logical step in the research is to develop selective breeding strategies that better emulate mating strategies that occur in the wild and to learn whether new strategies can reduce the difference in reproductive success among hatchery-raised and wild fish.This research was funded by an Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board grant awarded to M.A. Banks, the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, and a Hatfield Marine Science Center scholarship awarded to A.C. Whitcomb. Partial support was also provided by Oregon Sea Grant under award number NA10OAR4170059 (project number R/RCF-25) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program, U.S. Department of Commerce, and by appropriations made by the Oregon State Legislature to K.G. O’Malley. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of these funders.

2013HMSC_Aerial_Photo_Forinash_lo_rez About OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center: The center is a research and teaching facility located in Newport, Ore., on the Yaquina Bay estuary, about one mile from the open waters of the Pacific Ocean. It plays an integral role in programs of marine and estuarine research and instruction, as a laboratory serving resident scientists, as a base for far-ranging oceanographic studies and as a classroom for students. Its campus includes research activities and facilities from six different state and federal agencies.



Drawing on Our History – Sunday June 1

May 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Drawing on Our History: Talk & Presentation by Author & Artist James A. Cole

Sunday, June 1st 5pm at the Pacific Maritime & Heritage CenterJames Cole Portrait

Fishing vessel historian, author and artist, James A. Cole, will share the story behind his recently published book, Drawing on Our History: Fishing Vessels of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska on Sunday, June 1st, 5pm, at the Pacific Maritime and Heritage Center. In addition, a selection of original paintings from the book will be on exhibit.

A copy of Drawing on our History, Fishing Vessels of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska could be at home on a coffee table or on a school of naval architecture bookshelf.  The 208 lavishly illustrated pages in Cole’s coffee table style book range from Native American carved cedar canoes to today’s commercial vessels.

Originally from Tacoma, Washington, Jim Cole grew up hearing his uncle’s sea stories. His uncle who had sailed the world and was part owner of a Scottish steam trawler, illustrated his stories with pencil sketches. This might explain Jim’s passion for producing art depicting vessels being built, or at work.img005

After graduating from the University of Washington and serving in the Coast Guard during the Korean War, Jim was a marine designer at Philip F. Spaulding & Associates, Naval Architects and Marine Engineers in Seattle. In his 56-year career, Jim has been employed at the offices of four naval architecture firms and in the engineering departments of four Puget Sound area shipyards.

Admission to this talk and book signing is free for members, and $5 for non-members. For more information, call 541-265-7509.

The Lincoln County Historical Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and sharing Lincoln County’s history. Visit the Burrows House Museum, 545 SW Ninth Street in Newport, and the Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center, 333 SE Bay Blvd. in Newport. Burrows House admission is by donation. Pacific Maritime & Heritage Center is $5 for adults, $3 for children 3 through 12. Members admitted free with tickets. Both museums are open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.


Public urged to refrain from touching seal pups

May 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

NEWPORT, Ore. – Numerous young seal pups are venturing onto Oregon beaches, where they are at-risk from well-meaning coastal visitors who mistakenly try to rescue them.

Oregon State University marine mammal biologist Jim Rice is urging the public to refrain from touching or approaching the seal pups, which in most cases are not orphaned or abandoned, he pointed out. They frequently are left on the beach by their mothers, who are out looking for food.

“It is perfectly normal for seal pups to be left alone on the beach in the spring,” said Rice, 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.”

3728085510_7a19954dd3_zRice said concerned but uninformed beach-goers will sometimes interfere, picking up seal pups and taking them away from the beaches – and their mothers. A more common threat is hovering by curious onlookers, which can cause stress to the pups and prevents their mothers from returning to them.

“It’s tempting for some people to attempt to ‘rescue’ these seemingly hapless pups,” Rice said, “but a pup’s best chance for survival is to be left alone. A dependent pup that’s taken away from its mother will certainly die.”

Even with the best of intentions, Rice said, people can do a great deal of harm. And additionally, persons who disturb seal pups – even those who are just trying to help – risk being fined under laws intended to protect marine mammals from harassment. The Marine Mammal Protection Act prohibits interference with seal pups and other marine mammals on the beach.

Bystanders should stay at least 50 yards away and keep their dogs leashed, Rice said.

“After suckling for about four weeks, weaned pups are abandoned by their mothers, left to fend for themselves,” Rice added. “They will continue to come onto beaches periodically to rest as they grow and learn how to catch their own food.”

The harbor seal pupping season on the Oregon coast is generally March through June, with a peak in mid-May. Anyone who observes incidents of seal pup harassment, or animals in distress, should call the Oregon State Police at 1-800-452-7888, Rice said.

The Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network is an organization comprised of state agencies, universities, and volunteers, working together to investigate the causes of marine mammal strandings, provide for the welfare of live stranded animals, and advance public education about marine mammal strandings.

You can visit the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network online at

By Mark Floyd, 541-737-0788;

Source: Jim Rice, 541-867-0446;;

This release is available online at:


Thirty Years of Vents Program Discoveries – A presentation by Dr. Steve Hammond

May 16th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Explore thirty years of research on hydrothermal vents in the deep sea and the fascinating organisms that thrive on them. The story begins in 1977, when the first hydrothermal vent along with an associated community of blind crabs, giant clams and mouthless tubeworms – ultimately found to be powered by chemicals released from the earth rather than the power of the sun – were discovered in the deep ocean where life was never before imagined. Dr. Steve Hammond, scientist and recently retired Program Director for NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research will these and other exciting discoveries in ocean exploration in a presentation for the public on May 21, 6pm in the Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center auditorium.

Giant clams up to 1 foot long thrive in the crevices around seafloor pillow lava, which vent hydrothermal fluids with chemical nutrients. This vent site on the Galápagos Rift, discovered in 2002, is called “Calyfield” after the clam (Calyptogena magnifica). Image courtesy of Tim Shank, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. From the NOAA Explorer website:

Giant clams up to 1 foot long thrive in the crevices around seafloor pillow lava, which vent hydrothermal fluids with chemical nutrients. This vent site on the Galápagos Rift, discovered in 2002, is called “Calyfield” after the clam (Calyptogena magnifica). Image courtesy of Tim Shank, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. From the NOAA Explorer website:

Discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents and associated biological communities on the Galápagos Rift in 1977 revolutionized the oceanographic and earth sciences. Very shortly after the spectacular and completely unexpected discoveries of hydrothermal venting and its associated Rose Garden chemosynthetic animal community on the Galápagos Rift, NOAA installed a high-resolution, multibeam sonar system on the NOAA Ship SURVEYOR.  It was the first of its kind on a US civilian research vessel.  Immediately, an interdisciplinary team of ocean scientists from NOAA, Oregon State University, the University of Washington began to use the new sonar to systematically map the seafloor spreading centers off the N. California, Oregon, and Washington coasts and to explore for vents.  What followed was three decades of spectacular discoveries and research that remain at the forefront of efforts to understand how deep volcanic and hydrothermal activity impact the physical, chemical, and biological environments of the global ocean.

Dr. Steve Hammond, scientist and recently retired Program Director for NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Courtesy photo.

Dr. Steve Hammond’s career in ocean exploration and research began at the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and, for the past nearly 40 years, he has been an active scientist and program Director for NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Trained as a marine geologist and geophysicist, his principle scientific interests are focused on discovering and understanding how the Earth’s oceans and the marine ecosystems within it are influenced by submarine volcanic eruptions.  Dr. Hammond is also engaged in efforts at local and national levels to raise awareness of the critical importance of ocean exploration and research during a time of changing ocean and climate conditions.

Free and open to the public. For more information, call 541-867-0234.

Photo right: Dr. Steve Hammond, scientist and recently retired Program Director for NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.


Remembering Dr. Lavern John Weber, 1933-2014

May 15th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

June 7, 1933 — May 5, 2014

Lavern John Weber of South Beach, who was Director of the Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport for a quarter-century, died May 5, 2014, in Corvallis, at age 80.LavernWeber

The first resident director of the center, his leadership ensured that the institution rose to prominence to become an internationally recognized center of excellence in marine research and education.

One of six siblings, he was born to Jacob and Irene Weber on June 7, 1933, in Isabel, South Dakota. The family moved to a small dairy farm in Sultan, Washington, when he was a child.

After graduating from Sultan High School, he began his advanced education at Everett Community College, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree from Pacific Lutheran University in 1958; and a Master of Science degree (1962) and a doctorate in pharmacology (1964) from the University of Washington. He served on the UW medical school faculty from 1964 to 1969, and was the acting Washington State Toxicologist in 1969.

Later that year, he joined the faculties of the OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and of the College of Pharmacy, where his research changed focus from mammalian systems to physiology and toxicology in fishes. Dr. Weber’s initial experience with administration was as Assistant Dean of the Graduate School.

In 1977, he was appointed Director of the Marine Science Center; he was Director until his retirement in 2002. He also simultaneously served for a number of years as Director of the Cooperative Institute of Marine Resources Studies and as the first superintendent of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station, the first experiment station in the United States to focus on marine issues.

Lavern enjoyed teaching graduate students, and his mentoring included many evening gatherings of serious, and sometimes not so serious, scientific discussions. He maintained an open-door policy which extended to everyone at the HMSC and community members visiting the center. Every member of the faculty and staff experienced individual time with Lavern as he took each of them out for casual conversations on his muffin breaks.

He encouraged faculty, staff members and students to develop their own strengths, stretching beyond their comfort zones. As a professor, researcher, director and, also in his last few years before retirement, as associate dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, he could see many points of view, and always was willing to listen. He cultivated an atmosphere of conviviality and cooperation that grew into the institution’s key strength: collaborative research.

Under his leadership, the center grew as a number of federal agencies joined OSU departments and Oregon Fish and Wildlife at the center. Lavern also oversaw the remodeling of the Visitor’s Center, expanded ship operations, an expanded seawater system, the addition of several buildings, and the expansion of student and faculty housing with the associated offering of academic courses based at the center.

Lavern received many honors, including the OSU Alumni Association’s Distinguished Professor Award in 1992, and membership in the College of Agriculture’s Diamond Pioneer Agricultural Career Achievement Registry in 2009. Of all, his favorite award was the OSU Office Professionals Association’s Boss of the Year Award in 1989.

Community and university activities blended and were acknowledged with his receiving of the Oregon Friend of Extension recognition and Oregon Sea Grant Partnership Award. In 2006, he was named a Lincoln County Community Legend. He was an active member of Rotary, and served on the Board of Trustees of the Newport Public Library, and the boards of directors of the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Lincoln County Historical Society.

He was a founding member of the Yaquina Bay Economic Foundation, and had time as chair of Oregon Coast Council for the Arts. Lavern advocated for the training of aquarists, and in 2003 saw the start of the Aquarium Science Program at Oregon Coast Community College.LavernAtBayCrop

Above all, Lavern was a man of integrity and humility combined with vision and perseverance. His interests spanned topics from philosophy to woodworking (he built each of his children a grandmother or mantel clock). He loved travel and gardening (he planted hundreds of daffodils around the HMSC). He was proud of his children, who all have traveled very different roads with success.

He loved his grandchildren and would hang out with them whenever the chance arose. The annual Christmas gathering of the whole family was a highlight.

He is survived by brothers Edwin and Harlan; sisters Agnes and Natalie; his first wife, Shirley, and second wife, Pat; his four children, Tim (Lisa), Peter (Anne), Pamela (Ron) and Elizabeth; and four grandchildren, Jacob, Natalie, Wyatt and Talia.

A celebration of life will take place at 6 p.m. July 26 at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. In lieu of flowers, donations can be given to the OSU Foundation for the Lavern Weber Visiting Scientist Fund or for the COMES Founders’ Scholarship Fund.


Students Team Up to Explore Shipwrecks in Annual MATE Competition

May 14th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

May 12, 2014- They came to Lincoln City, Oregon from as far away as Bandon, Bend, and Tahola, Washington with one

Typhoon Industries - 1st Place, Ranger Class from Azalea, OR

Typhoon Industries – 1st Place, Ranger Class from Azalea, OR

thing on their minds: to explore and identify a simulated shipwreck based on clues discovered using their student-built underwater robots.  On Saturday, May 10th, twenty-two teams of students from 9 years old to college-aged, gathered at the Lincoln City Community Center to participate in the 3rd annual Oregon Regional Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Competition.  Teams launched their robots to compete for top honors in the region and the opportunity to advance to the 13th annual MATE International ROV Competition, which will be held in June at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Michigan.

Sponsored by Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Hub, Saturday’s competition was one of 23 regional MATE ROV competitions held annually around the world.  The goal of these competitions is to expose students to the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills that are used by researchers and marine technicians around the world.  ROVs are devices often employed to conduct research, locate and identify shipwrecks, deploy and service underwater equipment, and retrieve samples or items from the seafloor.

The student-built and operated ROVs that participated in Saturday’s event were required to complete a series of complex tasks in the pool, such as opening cargo holds and retrieving items from a shipwreck, recovering and deploying scientific equipment, estimating the population of an aquatic invasive species growing on the shipwreck, and removing marine debris. Student teams were also required to present posters detailing their ROV design and construction, and provide an engineering presentation for a panel of judges, many of whom currently work as oceanographers, engineers and marine technicians.

Over 45 volunteers helped run the competition, served as judges, or provided support including divers in the pool who re-set the props after each attempt by the teams.  These volunteers included educators, researchers, engineers and marine technology professionals from OSU, Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), MTS, LCSD, Central Lincoln Public Utility District, the National Association of Women (NOW), 4-H, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

The three teams representing the Oregon Region that will advance to the MATE International Competition are Explorer Class ROV teams from Clatsop Community College and Linn-Benton Community College, and the Ranger Class ROV team Typhoon Industries from Azalea, Oregon. The 2014 MATE International ROV competition focuses on exploring shipwrecks, sinkholes and conservation in the Great Lakes.  The competition will take place June 26-28 at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena, Michigan. The International Competition will involve hundreds of students and over 50 top teams from around the world including teams from Egypt, Hong Kong, and Scotland.

Results for the Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition for all four classes of ROV teams are as follows:

Sirens Launching ROV

Team Spirit Award- Sirens from Eddyville Charter School, Eddyville, Oregon

Clatsop Community College

Linn-Benton Community College


First PlaceTyphoon Industries, Home School team from Azalea, Oregon
Second PlaceTeam Cayden Fitch from Taft Jr./Sr. High School, Lincoln City, Oregon
Third Place Meek Squad from Meek Pro-Tech High School, Portland, Oregon


First PlaceAbyss Bound from Summit High School, Bend, Oregon

Second PlaceWaldport Navigators from Waldport High School, Waldport, Oregon

Third PlaceTaft Tech R.U.W.E. from Taft Jr./Sr. High School, Lincoln City, Oregon


First PlaceMoon Industries from Waldport High School, Waldport, Oregon

Second PlaceHydro from Cheldelin Middle School, Corvallis, Oregon

Third PlaceNuke Industries from Waldport High School, Waldport, Oregon

Team Spirit Award- Sirens from Eddyville Charter School, Eddyville, Oregon

Judge’s Choice Award- Zalotech from Life Christian School, Aloha, Oregon

The Oregon Regional MATE ROV competition was made possible by contributions from Oregon State University (OSU), Oregon Sea Grant (OSG), the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Hub, the Marine Technology Society (MTS), Lincoln County School District (LCSD), Tanger Outlets, the Sexton Corporation, KYTE, High Desert Makers, Siletz Tribal Charitable Fund, and the Cascade Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).


HMSC Mourns Passing of Lavern Weber, Former Director

May 9th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

NEWPORT, Ore. – Lavern Weber, director of Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center for a quarter-century and a leader in the development of Newport as a marine science education and research center, died Monday. He was 80.LavernAtBayCrop

Weber led the Newport-based OSU center from 1977 until his retirement in 2002. In addition to directing the Hatfield Center, he also served as director of the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resource Studies (CIMRS) and as superintendent of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station (COMES), which was the nation’s first experiment station dedicated to coastal issues.

“Lavern Weber was heavily involved in nearly everything that went on at the Hatfield Marine Science Center and in Newport, contributing significantly to these and to the OSU community,” said Robert Cowen, who now directs the Hatfield Marine Science Center. “He will be missed.”

Weber graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in 1958 and earned masters and doctoral degrees from the University of Washington, where he served on the faculty from 1964-69. He joined the OSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in 1969 and later had a faculty appointment in pharmacy and worked as assistant dean of the graduate school before moving into his role at the Newport center in 1977.

LavernWeberUnder his leadership, the center grew as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service and Vents Programs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife became established at the OSU facility. Weber also oversaw the expansion of student and faculty housing, the remodeling of the Visitor’s Center, expanded ship operations, and construction of several buildings, including the Guin Library.

Weber received the OSU Alumni Association’s Distinguished Professor Award in 1992. He was president of the Yaquina Bay Economic Foundation, served for a dozen years on the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Management Commission, and in 2000-01 was president of the National Association of Marine Laboratories.

“He was a wonderful citizen of Newport, participating in a variety of organizations, including chairing the board of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts,” said Janet Webster, head librarian for the Hatfield Marine Science Center. He mentored numerous graduate students and faculty in his years as a professor, director and associate dean (in the College of Agricultural Sciences). OSU and Newport will miss him.”

Plans for a memorial service will be announced later.


Students to Showcase Underwater Robots at Statewide Competition

May 3rd, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

LINCOLN CITY – —More than 150 elementary, middle school, high school, and college students formed 27 teams and will bring their underwater robots to the Lincoln City Community Center on May 10 to compete in the annual Oregon Regional MATE Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) contest.Team Aquatic Launching ROV

These teams, which have spent the past few months designing and building the underwater vehicles, will be among students around the world participating in 23 regional contests supported by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center. Qualifying participants will earn the chance to advance to MATE’s International ROV Competition June 26 – 28, at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Michigan.

Coordinated by Oregon Sea Grant Staff, the Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition encourages students from Astoria to Bandon, Bend to The Dalles, to develop and apply science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills as they work collaboratively to create working ROVs—tethered underwater robots used in ocean exploration, scientific research, and marine technology industries—to complete missions that simulate real-world tasks.

This year’s competition is thematically organized around the role of ROVs in exploring and documenting shipwrecks and conserving national maritime heritage sites such as the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where more than 50 shipwrecks are submerged.  This competition helps students understand how chemical, biological, and physical conditions can affect such archaeological sites.

RangerRovTeams participating in the Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition will perform a variety of underwater mission tasks, piloting their ROV to identify a simulated shipwreck, collect microbial samples, inventory invasive species, and remove debris. Students are challenged to think like entrepreneurs and form companies that develop creative solutions for engineering and constructing an ROV to document and explore a newly discovered wreck site. During the process, the students develop the teamwork, creative thinking, and problem solving skills that make them competitive in today’s global workplace. This requires them to solve problems in new and innovative ways, work as part of a team, and understand all aspects of business operations—important 21st century skills.

For information contact: Tracy Crews, Oregon Sea Grant, 541-867-0329 or

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Scientists use DNA to identify species killed during early whaling days

April 29th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

By Mark Floyd, 541-737-0788

Sources: Angela Sremba, 541-867-0384; Scott Baker, 541-272-0560

This article is available online at:

NEWPORT, Ore. – For more than a hundred years, piles of whale bones have littered the beaches of South Georgia Island in the South Atlantic Ocean – remnants of a vast and deadly whaling industry in the early 20th century that reduced many populations of Southern Hemisphere whales to near-extinction.

This week, scientists announced they have used DNA from the bones to identify the species of whales killed at South Georgia, and to link the collection to a likely time period in the catch records. Their findings are being published in the journal Marine Mammal Science.

The study represents the most comprehensive investigation of historic genetic diversity in whales from around the Antarctic region prior to commercial whaling. The researchers attempted to extract DNA from 281 whale bones and were successful in 82 percent of the cases.

Of the 231 samples they identified, the majority (158) were humpback whales. They also documented 51 fin whales, 18 blue whales, two sei whales, and one southern right whale. One of the bones turned out to be from an elephant seal.

“From a preliminary look at the DNA sequences, it appears that there was a high level of genetic diversity in these whales, which is what we’d expect from pre-exploitation samples,” said Angela Sremba, a doctoral student in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University and lead author on the study.

“The DNA from the bones has been surprisingly well-preserved, but it is important to capture this information now because the bones are susceptible to further degradation and contamination with age.”

The first commercial whaling station was established on South Georgia in 1904 and more than 175,000 whales were killed during the ensuing 60 years. During the first 10 years of whaling on the island, floating factories – large converted ships anchored in the harbors – were used to process the whales and workers discarded the carcasses into harbors. Many of the bones drifted ashore and remain there today.

Beginning in 1913, the processing of whales caught from the surrounding area shifted primarily to land and became so efficient that even the bones were destroyed. Sremba believes most of the whale bones in the study are from the early period of whaling on the island, from 1904-13.

“The species composition of the bone collection is quite similar to catch records during that time,” she said.

Scott Baker, associate director of Oregon State’s Marine Mammal Institute and co-author on the paper, said whale populations still have not recovered in the Southern Ocean despite an abundance of food.

“The waters around South Georgia Island were productive feeding grounds for great whales before whaling,” Baker said, “yet they have not returned here in any numbers despite nearly 50 years of protection. That suggests the possibility that the local population was extirpated, resulting in the loss of some cultural knowledge about the habitat.”14050190772_799b2469ca_m

Sremba, who is based at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport with Baker, said knowledge of the whales’ genetic diversity captured from these bones is invaluable.

“This unique resource will allow us to compare historical genetic diversity to contemporary populations to assess the potential impact of the 20th-century commercial whaling industry,” she said.

Sremba’s study was supported by a Mamie Markham Research Award through the Hatfield Marine Science Center.