Position opening: Senior aquarist at HMSC

NEWPORT – Oregon Sea Grant is seeking qualified applicants for a Senior Aquarist position at the Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center in Newport. The application deadline is August 8.

The 12-month, fixed-term appointment requires at least a BS/BA in aquatic biology or a related field and/or 2-3 years professional experience as an aquarist, with demonstrated skills in aquatic animal husbandry, health management  and aquatic marine/freshwater system maintenance.

The senior aquarist works with Sea Grant’s Aquatic Animal Health lead and veterinarian, as well as students and volunteers, to ensure the health and humane handling of the Visitor Center’s aquatic animals. The position is responsible for following accepted protocols for animal collection, display and education plans, managing monitoring and maintenance of the aquarium’s water systems and employing  knowledge of natural history, physiology and ecology of animals in the collection to ensure their  appropriate daily and long term care. The position is also responsible for compliance with federal and international standards for animal care and handling.

For the full position description, and to apply, visit the OSU Jobs Website.

New app helps campers find local firewood, avoid spreading invasives

CORVALLIS – A new, free iPhone application from Oregon Sea Grant aims to stem the spread of invasive insects by showing campers where they can buy local firewood when vacationing on the Oregon coast and other Pacific Northwest locations.

Dubbed “Firewood Buddy,” the application was developed by Media Macros, in collaboration with Sea Grant Extension’s invasive species specialist Sam Chan, media specialist Mark Farley and the Oregon Invasive Species Council.

The application is available free from:Firewood Buddy


Using the application, iPhone- or iPad-equipped visitors can locate local firewood sellers closest to parks and campgrounds on the Oregon coast and in Washington, Idaho and northern California.

If the application proves popular, a version may be developed for Android devices as well.

The application also provides practical information about camping, and informs campers about problems caused by non-native insects and diseases that may be harbored in untreated firewood sold by supermarkets and other sources. Such wood often originates outside the region – sometimes from as far away as the US East Coast, New Zealand or Russia. The wood can harbor insects and other organisms, some of which can lie dormant in or on firewood for as long as two years and can cause forest havoc if they escape in areas where they have no natural predators. (Additional information about the threat of firewood-borne pests is available at http://www.dontmovefirewood.org)

The mobile application is a followup to a 2009-11 research and education campaign Sea Grant undertook with invasive species councils in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. A joint education campaign ensued to encourage people not to transport firewood to campouts, picnics and other activities.

Using the slogan “Buy it where you burn it,” the campaign provided educational material about invasive insects and plant diseases to people reserving state park campsites online. Surveys before and after the educational campaign showed that, while nearly 40% of campers surveyed said they regularly brought firewood with them from outside the area, two-thirds of those who’d seen the educational material said they would change their behavior, including buying firewood locally.

The research and education project was funded by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Students invited to submit posters for the 2012 Heceta Head Coastal Conference

Oregon’s Ocean: Bringing the High Seas Home

FLORENCE – The 2012 Heceta Head Coastal Conference brings current ocean science and policy to Oregonians.  Attendees include university scientists, ocean policy agency staff, politicians, students, and the general public.  The conference is co-sponsored by Oregon Sea Grant.

The Pacific Ocean is a dynamic place full of activity and motion.  This year highlights the science of things that float, swim, drift, stowaway, steam, and bob across the Pacific to Oregon’s Ocean.

What to expect: The student poster session is part of a full day program (Saturday, October 27).

A dedicated session allows conference attendees to view posters and interact with student scientists as they explain their research and results.

Why submit a poster?

  • Showcase your research
  • Gain professional experience
  • Practice science communication with a broad audience
  • Interact with researchers, decision makers, industry leaders, stakeholders, and other    students
  • Awards for top posters (and prizes)!

Submitting a poster: The HHCC invites contributions from advanced undergraduates (juniors or seniors), recent graduates, and graduate students.

The poster submission deadline is September 30. Download the .pdf announcement for details.

For more information on the conference, visit www.hecetaheadconference.org.

Volunteers sought for tsunami debris monitoring, cleanup

The new Oregon Marine Debris Team is looking for hundreds of coastal volunteers to keep an eye out for debris from the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami – and to help clean it up.

The team, a partnership of Oregon Sea Grant and four nonprofit groups – CoastWatch, Surfrider Foundation, SOLVE and Washed Ashore – is leading citizen-based efforts to systematically track and clean up tsunami debris that washes up on the Oregon Coast. Volunteers will be asked to systematically monitor, identify and report areas where tsunami debris accumulates, and to participate in cleanup efforts.

Interested coastal residents and visitors can sign up by subscribing to the team’s marine debris notification list and indicate their volunteer interests and geographic areas.

Public agencies, led by Oregon State Parks, have set up debris reporting hotlines, provided receptacles and will collect material too dangerous or bulky for volunteers to handle. The federal government, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, announced Monday that it would provide $250,000 to the five western states likely to be affected by the tsunami debris (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii). However, at $50,000 per state, the grants are expected to cover only a small fraction of cleaning up however much of the estimated 1.5 million tons of debris drifting across the Pacific winds up on US coasts.

The debris was washed from the Japanese shore by the tsunami that followed the devastating earthquake that hit northern Japan on March 5, 2011, killing thousands and sweeping away an estimated 5 million tons of buildings, fishing vessels and personal belongings. Much of that sank off the Japanese coast – but buoyant items, from fragments of plastic and paper to stray boats and cargo containers, have been floating the Pacific currents ever since, and are beginning to show up on US coastlines.

The budget-strapped West Coast states lack the resources to clean up everything that arrives.The cost of removing the single largest piece of tsunami debris to hit Oregon to date – a large dock that washed ashore last month at Agate Beach on the central Coast – will run just over $84,000, according to Oregon Parks & Recreation, which has hired a contractor to remove and dispose of the dock starting July 30. A small piece will be kept as a memorial to the tsunami victims.

“Cleaning up our beaches relies upon all of us,” said Charlie Plybon, , Surfrider Foundation Oregon Field Manager. “The key to responding to this challenge … lies with educating and activating volunteers.”

The Oregon Marine Debris Team is hoping to recruit enough volunteers to monitor every beach, cove and headland for debris, and to be on call for cleanup alerts in given areas. “Agencies are not able to do that,” Plybon said. “It is up to us, the people who care for our coastline and take responsibility for it, to step up. Our role as nonprofits is to provide the support to make that happen.”

Newport’s Commercial Fisheries bay front signs now available online

Newport dock interpretive signsPeople who visit the bay fronts of Oregon’s harbors often see working boats at dock and wonder about them and about the types of commercial fishing being done along the coast. A series of 10 Newport’s Commercial Fisheries signs are now available to answer some of those questions. Not only can the bay front signs be viewed as you walk along the dock, they can also be found online:

Also available online is a free set of seven short publications explaining gear on fishing boats:


What to do if you find tsunami debris

The state of Oregon, in coordination with NOAA, Sea Grant and multiple coastal nonprofits, has a new list of resources for people who find – or who are interested in helping clean up – debris that might be associated with last year’s devastating tsunami in Japan.

Coastal residents and visitors are invited to pick up official beach cleanup bags from any state parks office on the coast, and fill them with whatever non-hazardous trash and debris they find when they’re on the beach.   Dozens of debris drop-off stations have been established on the coast, at many state parks and local waste transfer stations.

  • If you spot
    • Debris with living organisms on it
    • Debris that appears hazardous (oil or chemical drums, for instance)
    • Items too large for you to move
  • report it – with date, location, and photos if you can take them – to beach.debris@state.or.us
  • Unusually large items, or those that pose a hazard to navigation, should be reported by calling 211 (or 1-800-SAFENET).
  • Items with markings that might trace them back to inviduals or groups in Japan, or that appear to have personal or monetary value, should be reported to either  211 (1-800-SAFENET) or beach.debris@state.or.us so the state can can make appropriate arrangements to return the items.
  • You can also download a printable sheet of wallet-sized cards with this contact information on it.

If you’d like to volunteer to help report, collect or monitor the beaches for debris, you can sign up online with Surfrider, which will pass the information to the appropriate groups.

Oregon Sea Grant has joined with organizations such as Surfrider, SOLVE and CoastWatch to form the Oregon Marine Debris Team to assist with debris monitoring, identification, cleanup and public information.

Despite storm OSU remains on National Mall

WASHINGTON, D.C. Day three of the ten-day Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall was cancelled after OSU’s tent and at least nine others were damaged by a massive thunderstorm that swept across the capital on Friday night.

On Saturday morning the 16-foot long plexiglass wave tank, borrowed by OSU from Howard University to demonstrate tsunamis, stood on two tables peeking out from under a frayed blue tarp amid a field of debris. Around it laid bent pieces of metal tent tubing, soggy “Powered by Orange” tee shirts, and muddied posters that describe OSU extension and outreach activities.


OSU's demonstration area after a severe thunderstorm came through Friday night.

“I was shocked when the festival representative called this morning and said, ‘well, the wave tank is fine but you’ll need you to stay away for the day while we find you a new tent’,” said OSU Director of University Events Shelly Signs. Signs heads up the team of paid staff and volunteers that has traveled from Oregon to demonstrate OSU research and extension activities. These include tsunami education activities, Sea Grant-related surimi and fisheries research, and projects by the 4-H Tech Wizards—an OSU Extension program that provides after-school tech-related activities for underrepresented youth.

The annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival was created in 1967 to examine and showcase different aspects of American and global culture. To mark the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s signing of the Morrill Bill that called for the creation of land-grant universities, Smithsonian invited land-grant universities from around the country to set up exhibits that showcase activities connected with their mission. The program, called “Campus and Community“, features exhibits and activities from 28 U.S. land-grant institutions.

By Sunday, OSU’s tent had been replaced and Signs and her team were busy making tsunamis, rolling out surimi and firing off air-propelled rockets. At tables in front of the wave tank, children and parents snapped together Legos trying to create structures that could withstand the six-inch wave the machine generates. OSU researcher Jae Park and his wife stood by a glass-topped freezer that displayed numerous brands of surimi and spoke to festival goers about how the product utilizes parts of fish that were once discarded (Park’s research and his Astoria-based Surimi School got early support from Oregon Sea Grant). On nearby tables children used surimi molds and rolling pins to make artificial crab and pressed shrimp shapes out of clay.


Smithsonian volunteer and young festival attendees watch to see which structures will withstand the tsunami.

In Reunion Hall, just across from the OSU tent, 4-H Tech Wizards program manager Octaviano Merecias-Cuevas showed one young festival goer how to connect a motor to a solar cell. Behind him teacher Miguel Angel Cholu Hernandez tested the latest batch of air-propelled rockets that had been made at their table.

Despite losing a day, Signs seems happy with the way things are turning out. “People are learning about how to build structures that are less susceptible to tsunamis, they’re learning sustainable food practices and are seeing the great things that the Tech-Wizards are doing,” she said. “Plus we’ve had an opportunity to build community with all of the other land-grant communities that are also participating. I’d say this is a success.”

To see more photos of the event please visit:


(Rhett Register is a former Corvallis reporter and freelancer now living and working in Washington, D.C., where he is a researcher for National Geographic Travel magazine.)