Scientists: Existing regulations could help solve localized acidification

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Ocean acidification is a complex global problem because of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, but there also are a number of local acidification “hotspots” plaguing coastal communities that don’t require international attention – and which can be addressed now.

A regulatory framework already is in place to begin mitigating these local hotspots, according to a team of scientists who outline their case in a forum article in the journal Science.

“Certainly, ocean acidification on a global level continues to be a challenge, but for local, non-fossil fuel-related events, community leaders don’t have to sit back and wait for a solution,” said George Waldbusser, an Oregon State University ecologist and co-author of the paper. “Many of these local contributions to acidity can be addressed through existing regulations.”

A number of existing federal environmental laws – including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act – provide different layers of protection for local marine waters and offer officials avenues for mitigating the causes of local acidity. …

You know it’s almost summer on the Oregon coast …

Feeding time at the HMSC… when the Visitor Center at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport switches over to summer hours.

From now until Labor Day, the Visitor Center will be open five days a week, from 10 am to 5 pm, with exhibits, activities and events designed to enlighten and entertain visitors of all ages with an interest in our oceans and coasts. It’s a great place to take a break from your beach explorations, and our bookstore offers all kinds of wonderful – and educational – mementos.

Current interactive exhibits include

  • “Our Active Earth,” which looks at the science of earthquakes and tsunamis
  • “Invasion of the Habitat Snatchers,” which uses games, videos and other tools to explore how invasive species can damage habitats and crowd out native animals and plants
  • “Science for Sustainable Fisheries,” examining how scientists, fishermen and fisheries managers work together to ensure a healthy, safe, sustainable seafood supply. The exhibit features intricately detailed scale models of actual Newport fishing vessels, hand-crafted by a local artisan!

Visitors  – especially young ones – love being on hand when it’s time to feed our star attraction, Ursula the giant Pacific octopus, and the other animals on exhibit. Oregon Sea Grant’s educators, aquarists and volunteers are on hand to talk about the animals and their behavior and answer questions. Octopus feedings take place at 1 pm every Monday, Thursday and Saturday; feedings of the fish and invertebrates in our Eye-Level tank happen at 1 pm Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Marine science videos and presentations take place regularly  in the center’s Hennings Auditorium, and each Sunday at 11 am up to 20 visitors can enjoy a guided, behind-the-scenes tour of the quarantine, holding, medical, teaching, and research areas in our animal health wing.

For more about upcoming events and exhibits, visit the HMSC Visitor Center’s Web site.

Tsunami preparedness brochure available online

Three Things You Need to Know About Tsunamis“Three Things You Need to Know About Tsunamis,” a new, easy-to-use brochure designed for Oregon coast residents and visitors, is available online from Oregon Sea Grant.

Written by Patrick Corcoran, Sea Grant Extension’s coastal hazards specialist, the handy,  printable brochure covers three essential facts about preparing for a tsunami:

  • The difference between local and distant tsunamis, and what that means to people trying to escape the potentially devastating inundation
  • Which coastal areas are likely to be unsafe should a tsunami strike
  • What people can do in advance to be prepared

Marine scientists say the Oregon Coast is overdue for the sort of high-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that struck Japan in March. Even if  “the Big One” doesn’t strike, many coastal areas are vulnerable to tsunamis generated by distant quakes in other parts of the Pacific Rim.

Corcoran, based in Astoria, works with coastal communities and state and federal agencies to increase public awareness of the risks, and make people better prepared to deal with disaster when it strikes.

The new brochure carries the same message as his community talks and a previously released Sea Grant video on the subject: It’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.”

The largest earthquakes on earth happen along the Cascadia subduction zone, at regular geologic intervals.” As Corcoran writes, “The last Big One was in 1700 AD. Given historic averages, we are about due. We need to prepare for this inevitability.”

Designed by Sea Grant artist Patricia Andersson, the new brochure is intended for wide distribution. Coastal families can use them, along with maps of local evacuation routes, to develop their own tsunami preparedness and evacuation plans. Motels, visitor attractions and other coastal businesses can make them available to visitors. And local emergency preparedness groups can use them as guides for community presentations.

The brochure is available for free download from Oregon Sea Grant, both as a full-color, printable .pdf and in an accessible plain-text version.

Information about single-copy and bulk orders of the brochure will be added soon to the Sea Grant Web site. In the meantime, queries can be sent to

More information: Watch the three-minute video, The Three Things You Need To Know (Flash required)

Sea Grant’s Rowe honored as “emerging scholar”

Sea Grant's Shawn Rowe conducting teacher-scientist workshopShawn Rowe, Oregon Sea Grant professor of Free-Choice Learning, has been honored by his professional peers at Oregon State University with the Phi Kappa Phi “Emerging Scholar” award for 2010-2011.

The award is given annually by the OSU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, the faculty honorary society, to an assistant professor who “has conducted outstanding research or creative work in the arts, sciences, or professional fields, especially while at OSU.”

Rowe, who is based at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, is an assistant professor and Oregon Sea Grant marine education specialist who has helped shape OSU’s efforts in the field of science and math “free-choice learning” – the learning people do outside formal academic settings. That work has included working with graduate students to design and test the effectiveness of aquarium education exhibits, bringing public school teachers together with scientists to increase their science and math teaching skills, and engaging with ocean scientists and OSU and across the US to help them more effectively communicate with the public.

Much of his research has been conducted at the Sea Grant-managed HMSC Visitor Center, which serves as a living laboratory for developing science-based exhibits and programs, and observing and testing how visitors respond and what they learn.

Most recently, Rowe has served as lead investigator on the Oregon Coast Aquatic and Marine Science Partnership, which gave 32 Lincoln County teachers an opportunity to design new field projects for their students through  workshops with working scientists. One result: 77% of 8th-grade students taught by participating teachers met or exceeded the Oregon standard for science knowledge and skills, compared to 54% in classes taught by teachers who had not participated in the program.

In nominating Rowe for the award, David Hansen, Sea Grant Extension program leader, cited his work on a bilingual family learning project, his participation in a climate change community-engagement project,  and his leadership in the National Science Foundation-funded regional Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence.

“Dr. Rowe is making important contributions to the science of public engagement at local, regional and national scales,” Hansen wrote.

The award was presented earlier this month on the OSU campus in Corvallis.

Read more about Shawn Rowe’s work.

Visit Shawn’s Web pages

NOAA manager to discuss Pacific research at HMSC

NEWPORT  – “Fishing for the Future: NOAA Fisheries Groundfish Scientists at Sea” will be the subject of a special presentation at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center on Tuesday, May 24. The talk starts at 6:30 pm in the center’s Hennings Auditorium, and is free and open to the public.

The talk is the second in a series aimed at introducing the public to the ships and science of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific fleet, which is in the process of relocating to new facilities in Newport. The series is jointly sponsored by NOAA and the Hatfield Center.

The May 24 speaker is Dr. Patty Burke, manager of the Groundfish Monitoring Program with NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, which includes the West Coast Observer Program, the West Coast Groundfish Surveys and the Habitat and Conservation Engineering Program.  She will present her program’s research as conducted on NOAA ships as well as on contracted fishing vessels, describing life at sea for a researcher aboard a NOAA ship. Her talk will highlight the differing capabilities of vessels in the NOAA and the commercial fleets, and the differences in the experience for the researchers aboard.

The series is expected to host a total of five speakers over the next several months, including scientists who rely on the NOAA ships to conduct their fisheries and oceanographic research as well as the NOAA Corps, whose officers and staff operate the ships and manage the fleet. The third event, NOAA Day at the Visitors Center, will take place on the afternoon of Saturday June 11 with several speakers, including Dr. Steve Hammond of NOAA’s Ocean Exploration Program, Taylor Morrison, author of the new book “A Good Catch” along with NOAA scientist Dr. Bill T. Peterson of whose work on the R/V Elakha is portrayed in the book.

Oregon tsunami preparedness work hits NOAA spotlight

This month’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s “Research Spotlight” features the tsunami preparedness research and public outreach efforts of Oregon Sea Grant, along with its sister programs in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

The article notes that “hazard resilient coastal communities” is a major focus area for NOAA Sea Grant, which has university-based research and outreach programs in 32 ocean and Great Lakes states.

Oregon is cited for its ongoing efforts to prepare the state’s coastal communities for the inevitability of an earthquake and/or tsunami. The state’s coastline is on the Cascadia subduction zone – a 600 mile long fault line similar to the one whose fracture in March caused a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

With scientists saying the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a high-magnitude quake, Oregon Sea Grant has worked for years with state agencies and local communities on everything from developing inundation maps, evacuation routes and signs to teaching people easy-to-remember steps for disaster preparation.

Read the NOAA Spotlight article …

Oregon Sea Grant video wins Gold Award

Oregon Sea Grant’s video Preparing for Coastal Climate Change: What Oregonians Are Asking has won a Gold Award in the Video/Educational category of the 2011 Hermes Creative Awards.

According to Hermes, there were about 4,400 entries from throughout the U.S. and several other countries in this year’s competition, with about 19 percent receiving Gold Awards. The Gold Award is presented to “those entries judged to exceed the high standards of the industry norm.”

Preparing for Coastal Climate Change was produced by Joe Cone, assistant director of Oregon Sea Grant, and edited by Stevon Roberts; the jacket and label were designed by Patricia Andersson. The video was supported in part by a grant from the NOAA Climate Program Office.

Copies of the video are available for $3 each plus shipping and handling from Oregon Sea Grant, 541-737-4849; or through Oregon Sea Grant’s e-commerce site at You may also view excerpts of the video on Sea Grant’s Web site.

Here’s the introduction:

Science Communications Fellowship

Announcing the availability of the Oregon Sea Grant Science Communication Fellowship.  The Fellow will focus on science writing at Oregon Sea Grant Communications, working in a professional office dedicated to communicating science to non-specialists.

For more information:

What’s fresh on the Oregon coast?

Fresh seafood at Local Ocean in NewportWondering what seafood will be in season when you visit the Oregon coast? Oregon Sea Grant’s Kaety Hildenbrand has compiled a handy, one-page guide to local seafood availability for 2011, based on  harvest estimates and commercial seasons set by fisheries regulators.

Right now, for instance, you should be able to find fresh, locally caught Chinook salmon, Dungeness crab and pink shrimp, as well as  flounder, sole, rockfish and lingcod (generally available year-round).

June should bring the appearance of albacore tuna and, late in the month, Pacific halibut, depending on when the fish make their appearance.

Fresh, locally caught seafood is available in markets and restaurants up and down the coast, and direct from the fishermen in many coastal ports. A family trip to the docks with an ice-filled cooler can be a great way to learn more about where your dinner comes from, how it’s harvested and the people who catch it.

The guide, “What’s Fresh and When in 2011” is ready to download and print, and suitable for hanging on the refrigerator door or tucking in the glove compartment for your next trip to the coast. Download it here in .pdf format.

Hildenbrand is Sea Grant’s Extension marine fisheries educator, based in Newport, where she engages the fishing community and general public on issues ranging from fisheries management to marine energy and multiple ocean uses.

Nine new low impact development fact sheets from Oregon Sea Grant

The following publications are available from Oregon Sea Grant.

Low Impact Development Fact Sheets. This series of short publications, developed by Oregon Sea Grant’s watershed education and outreach team, lays out guidelines for choosing, building, maintaining and testing a variety of “green” options for handling stormwater runoff from residential, commercial and public property. (For greater detail, see also: The Oregon Rain Garden Guide from Oregon Sea Grant.

  • Rain Gardens
  • Porous Pavement
  • Vegetated Filter Strips
  • Drywells
  • Stormwater Planters
  • Swales
  • Green Roofs
  • Infiltration Testing
  • Soakage Trenches