About Tiffany Woods

Tiffany leads the communications team at Oregon Sea Grant.

Hatfield science center in Newport exhibits sea-inspired paintings


By Tiffany Woods

A new exhibit of paintings representing the sea and coastal mudflats is on display through July 7 at the public wing of the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Mimi Cernyar Fox, an artist from Raymond, Wash., created the exhibit, which is called “Water Water Everywhere” and is showing at the Oregon Sea Grant-operated Visitor Center at Hatfield. It features five paintings that use oil, acrylic or charcoal on canvas.

painting of ocean

“In the Bosom of the Sea” is on display at Hatfield. (photo courtesy of Mimi Cernyar Fox)

Cernyar Fox is no stranger to Newport. She has taught art at the Oregon Coast Community College and shown some of her work at the Newport Visual Arts Center. She put herself through art school by tending bar in the summers at Newport’s bayfront, where she became friends with some of the fishermen. During those summers she’d also spend a few weeks working as a cook and night lookout aboard fishing boats.

“It was something I did so I could study the sea,” she said. “I wanted to understand the light and the water out there. That’s how I learned to paint the sea. During the brief times I would have off, or during my long and lonely four-hour night watch, I would make sketches and color notations in my journal.”

She has since transferred that experience onto the canvas, painting with a forward and backward motion for the eye, much like the movement of a tidal wave.

“I am conscious of the rhythm and movement of the sea and work to paint it in such a way that one can almost hear it,” she said.

That movement is on display at Hatfield in her painting “In the Bosom of the Sea,” which was inspired by the Bering Sea.

painting of a mudflat

“Mudflat-Soldier Boy” uses real shells and is also at Hatfield. (photo courtesy of Cernyar Fox)

Some of her artwork also has an environmental focus, aiming to raise awareness about declining seabirds and the health of the ocean. For example, one of her paintings, “The Signal,” at Hatfield features a mudflat with real shells and a figurine blowing a trumpet “as a signal that our beaches and our marine birds are in danger,” she said. Another, “In the Quiet,” is made with broken sand dollars to signify starving seagulls, which eat them.

Cernyar Fox holds a bachelor’s degree from the Pacific Northwest College of Art and a Master of Fine Arts from Washington State University.

Her exhibit is part of a growing effort to include marine-inspired art as a complement to the research-focused displays at the Visitor Center. A current exhibit, for example, features pottery depicting 28 threatened or endangered species in the Pacific Northwest.

Every year, about 150,000 people pass through the doors of the Visitor Center, where they can touch sea anemones, crash simulated tsunami waves against Lego structures, marvel over model-sized fishing boats, or watch aquatic animals in aquarium tanks.

UO study moves seafood industry closer to farming gooseneck barnacles


By Tiffany Woods

A study led by a University of Oregon marine biologist has moved the seafood industry one step closer to farming gooseneck barnacles, which are a pricey delicacy in Spain and a common sight on the West Coast.

Gooseneck barnacles grow on top of adult thatched barnacles. (Photo by Julia Bingham)

Funded by Oregon Sea Grant, researchers found that juvenile gooseneck barnacles in a lab grew at rates comparable to those of their counterparts in the wild.

Led by Alan Shanks, a professor with the UO’s Charleston-based Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB), the researchers glued juveniles to textured, acrylic plates hung vertically inside 12 plastic tubes that were about twice the height and diameter of a can of tennis balls. Unfiltered seawater was pumped in, vigorously aerated and allowed to overflow. After a week, the barnacles began secreting their own cement.

Twice a day for eight weeks, the researchers fed the barnacles either micro-algal paste or brine shrimp eggs; a third group of barnacles was not fed anything but was left to filter food out of the seawater. Once a week the researchers measured the barnacles’ growth. Those that were fed the brine shrimp eggs outgrew the other barnacles.

Seawater is pumped into plastic tubes containing juvenile gooseneck barnacles in a lab at the University of Oregon as part of a research project funded by Oregon Sea Grant. Researchers glued the juveniles to textured, acrylic plates hung vertically inside the tubes. (Photo by Mike Thomas)

“The experiment has demonstrated that feeding is not dependent on high water velocities, and barnacles can be stimulated to feed using aeration and will survive and grow readily in mariculture,” Shanks said.

He added that unlike high-flow systems, his low-flow “barnacle nursery” doesn’t use as much energy or have expensive pumps to maintain, so it has the potential to decrease operating costs.

Despite the findings, the researchers are cautiously optimistic.

“While our experiment showed promise, there is still a great deal of research which needs to be done to solve some of the barriers to successful and profitable mariculture,” said research assistant Mike Thomas. “For example, inducing settlement of gooseneck barnacle larvae onto artificial surfaces has historically proven difficult and this makes the implantation of barnacles a laborious task. There are other methods of mariculture which need to be explored further for their efficacy before deciding on the best method.”

Another part of Shanks’ project involved conducting field research to see if there are enough gooseneck barnacles in southern Oregon to sustain commercial harvesting. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife allows commercial harvesting of gooseneck barnacles on jetties but not on natural rock formations. Shanks hopes the agency will be able use the results of his work when regulating their harvesting.

A juvenile gooseneck barnacle grows on an acrylic plate in a research project funded by Oregon Sea Grant. Researchers at the University of Oregon found that juvenile gooseneck barnacles in their lab grew at rates comparable to or greater than those for species in the wild. (Photo by Mike Thomas)

Researchers used photographs and transects to estimate the barnacle populations on eight jetties in Winchester Bay, Coos Bay, Bandon, Port Orford, Gold Beach and Brookings. They estimated that there are roughly 1 billion adult and juvenile gooseneck barnacles attached to these eight jetties but only about 2 percent are of commercially harvestable size.

“Our surveys suggest that wild populations are unlikely to sustain long-term commercial harvest should the market significantly expand beyond its current size,” researcher Julia Bingham wrote in a report about the project.

She added that with the exception of jetties in Coos Bay and Winchester Bay, the other six jetties had such limited numbers of barnacles that even a “very small-scale harvest” – about 500 pounds per year per jetty – could wipe out harvestable-sized goosenecks on them in five years.

With a second round of funding from Oregon Sea Grant that was awarded in 2017, Shanks and Aaron Galloway, an aquatic ecologist at the OIMB, are continuing the research. Their new work includes:

  • studying how long it takes for a population to return to pre-harvest densities
  • testing different glues and surfaces to see if harvested barnacles that are too small for market can be reattached to plates and returned to the ocean
  • testing out bigger tubes for rearing barnacles in the lab to make them feasible for larger-scale aquaculture
  • testing other diets, including finely minced fish waste from a seafood processing plant

Additional reporting by Rick Cooper.

‘State of the Coast’ conference set for Oct. 28 in Florence


By Tiffany Woods

Registration has opened for Oregon Sea Grant’s annual State of the Coast conference, which will be held Oct. 28 in Florence.

Shelby Walker addresses the audience at Oregon Sea Grant’s State of the Coast Conference at Gleneden Beach in 2016. She is the director of Oregon Sea Grant. (Photo by Charles Robinson)

Billed as Oregon’s coastal conference for everyone, the event aims to bring together the public, scientists, fishermen, resource managers, teachers, students and conservationists. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn, network and talk about the current status and future of Oregon’s marine environment.

The keynote speaker will be Rick Spinrad, the chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from 2014 to January 2017. He was also the vice president of research at Oregon State University from 2010 to 2014.

Under this year’s theme of “innovation,” presentations and hands-on activities will include the following topics:

  • invasive European green crabs
  • pyrosomes, the jelly-like, tube-shaped organisms that were seen off the Oregon coast in unusually large numbers this year
  • coastal governance and coastal-related legislation
  • the science behind fresh and frozen seafood
  • innovations in observing marine mammals
  • marine gear and technology
  • engaging communities in art
  • tracking local and global seafood across the supply chain
  • forecasting ocean conditions for recreation, profit and safety
  • managing estuaries for everyone

Marie Kowalski, a former master’s student at Oregon State University, talks about her research on mitigating microplastics at Oregon Sea Grant’s State of the Coast Conference in Coos Bay in 2015. (Photo by Anne Farrell-Matthews)

Additionally, students from various universities in Oregon will talk about their coastal research. Also, a coastal chef will demonstrate how to prepare various types of seafood.

Registration in advance is recommended as space is limited. Cost is $35 for the public and $25 for students. It includes refreshments, lunch and a raffle ticket. The conference begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes with a reception that starts at 4 p.m. For more information and to register, visit www.stateofthecoast.com. The event will take place at the Florence Events Center at 715 Quince St.