Newport to host Sept. 28-30 conference for volunteers at aquariums, museums and zoos


By Tiffany Woods

Tim Miller-Morgan, an aquatic veterinarian with Oregon Sea Grant, will be one of the presenters at the PNDVA conference.

Tim Miller-Morgan, an aquatic veterinarian with Oregon Sea Grant, will be one of the presenters at the PNDVA conference. (Photo by Tiffany Woods)

NEWPORT, Ore. – Fifty people who volunteer at museums, aquariums, zoos and science centers will gather in Newport Sept. 28-30 for a conference to network and learn from each other.

The attendees are members of the Pacific Northwest Docent and Volunteer Association (PNDVA). They’ll meet at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) on Sept. 28 and at the Oregon Coast Aquarium the following day.

On the first day, participants will:

  • walk along the Yaquina Bay and learn about the animals and plants there
  • build small, remote-controlled underwater devices
  • assemble a 16-foot whale skeleton
  • tour a behind-the-scenes wing of Hatfield to see how aquarists with Oregon Sea Grant care for animals there
  • tour the system that transports water from the ocean to Hatfield
  • listen to a talk on marine mammals by Bill Hanshumaker, a marine science educator with Oregon Sea Grant and Oregon State University
  • listen to a talk by Tim Miller-Morgan, an aquatic veterinarian with Oregon Sea Grant and the OSU Extension Service
During the PNDVA conference, attendees will have the opportunity to explore the public education wing at Hatfield.

During the PNDVA conference, attendees will have the opportunity to explore the public education wing at Hatfield. (Photo by Tiffany Woods)

On the second day, attendees will:

  • tour the Oregon Coast Aquarium
  • learn about sea otters and the more than 150 native plant species growing on the aquarium’s grounds
  • listen to a talk on the importance of zoos and aquariums by Kerry Carlin-Morgan, the aquarium’s director of education and volunteer services
  • learn how the aquarium cares for its sharks and rehabilitates coastal wildlife
  • listen to keynote speaker Shea Steingass, who studied harbor seals as a doctoral student at OSU

On Sept. 30, attendees will have the opportunity to partake in various excursions in Newport, Depoe Bay, Seal Rock and Otis.

Jacqueline Brandt (right) talks about sea star wasting disease with Aliya Jamil. Brandt is one of more than 60 people who volunteer at the public education wing of the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Jacqueline Brandt (right) talks about sea star wasting disease with Aliya Jamil. Brandt is one of more than 60 people who volunteer at the public education wing of the Hatfield Marine Science Center. (Photo by Tiffany Woods)

Employees with Oregon Sea Grant, which operates the public education wing – also known at the Visitor Center – at Hatfield, will lead some of the sessions at HMSC. More than 60 people volunteer at the Visitor Center, some of whom will attend the conference.

New video reveals how aquarists care for animals at HMSC Visitor Center

Have you ever wondered how aquarists care for the animals at the Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitor Center? Now you can learn all about it, by watching this fascinating, award-winning video from Oregon Sea Grant: Animal Care at the Hatfield Marine Science Center’s Visitor Center.

The full video (15:45) comprises six discrete segments, starting with a behind-the-scenes tour of the area where new and sick animals are quarantined and treated (0:52). Other segments explain how aquarists feed the animals (3:54), take care of the octopus on display (7:10), care for coral (9:27), propagate coral (11:39) and clean the tanks (13:16).

If you’d prefer to watch one or more individual segments rather than the entire video, you may do so by clicking on the appropriate link(s) below:

Oregon Sea Grant operates the Visitor Center, which features interactive exhibits and attracts more than 150,000 visitors each year. It is home to Oregon Sea Grant’s marine education program for K-12 students and teachers.

The video was filmed and edited by Oregon Sea Grant videographer Vanessa Cholewczynski.

Summer issue of Confluence magazine now online

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

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

Aquarium fish develop antibiotic resistance

Discus fishNEWPORT, Ore. – The $15 billion ornamental fish industry faces a global problem with antibiotic resistance, a new study concludes, raising concern that treatments for fish diseases may not work when needed – and creating yet another mechanism for exposing humans to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The risk to humans is probably minor unless they frequently work with fish or have compromised immune systems, the authors said, but transmission of disease from tropical fish has been shown to occur. More serious is the risk to the ornamental fish industry,  a $900 million annual business in the United States.

There are few regulations in the U.S. or elsewhere about treating ornamental fish with antibiotics, experts say. Antibiotics are used routinely, such as when fish are facing stress due to transport, whether or not they have shown any sign of disease.

“We expected to find some antibiotic resistance, but it was surprising to find such high levels, including resistance in some cases where the antibiotic is rarely used,” said study Tim Miller-Morgan, Oregon Sea Grant’s Extension aquatic species veterinarian and an assistant professor with OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.   “We appear to already have set ourselves up for some pretty serious problems within the industry.”

In the new study, 32 freshwater fish of various species were tested for resistance to nine different antibiotics, and some resistance was found to every antibiotic. The highest level of resistance, 77 percent, was found with the common antibiotic tetracycline. The fish were tested in Portland, Ore., after being transported from Colombia, Singapore and Florida.

Findings of the study were reported in the Journal of Fish Diseases.

The bacterial infections found in the fish included Aeromonas, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus and others, several of which can infect people as well as fish.

Problems and concerns with antibiotic resistance have been growing for years, Miller-Morgan said. The nature of the resistance can range widely, causing an antibiotic to lose some, or all of its effectiveness.

There have been documented cases of disease transmission from fish to humans, he said, but it’s not common. It would be a particular concern for anyone with a weak or compromised immune system, he pointed out, and people with such health issues should discuss tropical fish management with their physicians. Workers who constantly handle tropical fish may also face a higher level of risk.

From an industry perspective, losses of fish to bacterial disease may become increasingly severe, he said, because antibiotics will lose their effectiveness.

Anyone handling tropical fish can use some basic precautions that should help, Miller-Morgan said. Consumers should buy only healthy fish; avoid cleaning tanks with open cuts or sores on their hands; use gloves; immediately remove sick fish from tanks; consider quarantining all new fish in a separate tank for 30 days; wash hands after working with fish; and never use antibiotics in a fish tank unless actually treating a known fish disease caused by bacteria.

Learn more

Oregon Sea Grant wins two silver awards

Oregon Sea Grant has won two Silver Awards of Distinction in the 18th Annual Communicator Awards competition, one each for its “Aquatic Animal Health” brochure and its Cascade Head Scenic Research Area video.

The Communicator Awards are judged and overseen by the International Academy of the Visual Arts (IAVA), a 550+ member organization of professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts. See for more information.

According to Linda Day, executive director of the IAVA, “The pool of entries we received for this year’s Communicator Awards serves as a true testament to the innovative ideas and capabilities of communications and marketing professionals around the world. On behalf of the entire Academy, we congratulate this year’s Communicator Award Entrants and Winners for their passion and dedication. We are humbled to be given the opportunity to recognize such amazing work.”

This year’s Communicator Awards received  more than 6,000 entries from companies and agencies of all sizes, making it one of the largest awards of its kind in the world. Visit for more information.








Sea Grant Veterinarian Helps Control Virus in Koi Ponds

Koi in a pondCORVALLIS, Ore. – Call him the koi doctor. An ichthyologist a la koi. The koi keeper’s confidant.

His patients are living works of art – brilliantly painted Picassos that swim in elaborate ponds and fetch up to $70,000 a piece. When disease strikes, the fallout can be disastrous, costing koi keepers in Oregon and around the world hundreds of thousands of dollars.

One half of a two-man SWAT team called in to render medical support for ornamental fish, Oregon State University’s Tim Miller-Morgan is a Sea Grant Extension veterinarian for aquatic pets, based at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Ore.

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