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.)

Fishermen invited to Webinar on groundfish research

West Coast fishermen are invited to take part in a June 5 Webinar ,”West Coast Groundfish Fishery – Reducing Weak Stock Risk While Improving Profit for Fishermen.”

In an attempt to protect the groundfish fishery from stock collapse, fisheries regulators are considering shifting to a type of catch share system called ITQ, or  “individual transferable quotas.” Such a system sets a species-specific total allowable catch, typically by weight and for a given period of time.

With funding from Sea Grant programs in Oregon, California and Washington, researchers from the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Washington are attempting to  identify emerging ecological, social and economic impacts of the transition to an ITQ system. Can strategies be implemented that help fishermen avoid risk from catching weak stocks, while enhancing profit?

The free webinar, from 10 am to 11 am PDT, will present an overview of the research project and its primary questions.

Space in the Webinar is limited; seats can be reserved at (System requirements: PC- Windows 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server; Mac – OSX 10.5 or newer).

Astoria becomes world surimi capital

Jae ParkEver wondered about the crab-flavored fish protein in your seafood sandwich, “crab” salad or California sushi roll?

It’s surimi, a fish protein paste made into various shellfish-flavored products.

Earlier this month, Oregon State University’s Seafood Lab on Marine Drive hosted the 20th annual Surimi School, a gathering of global industry representatives and researchers that made Astoria for one week the epicenter of expertise on the globally popular, gelatinous fish protein you’ve likely had in one form or another.

About 40 students from surimi plants, surimi seafood (finished product) plants and others from accessory industries attended lectures and took part in surimi labs.

Jae Park, an OSU professor seen as the pre-eminent expert on surimi, founded the OSU Surimi Technology School in 1993 in Astoria. He started similar institutes in Bangkok in 1996 and in Paris in 1999.

For most of the school’s first decade, Oregon Sea Grant invested in the surimi program’s development and success with grants to support Park’s research into ways to improve the texture of surimi, and with direct contributions to the surimi school. A number of Park’s research publications were published by Sea Grant as well.

“The academic and industry languages are different,” said Park. “With that mentality, I found there was a great need to build industry-academia partnerships.”

His answer has been to bring in academic and industry experts from around the world to Astoria every May for the last 20 years, sharing knowledge between the two groups and enhancing everyone’s understanding of the ever-changing surimi industry.

Learn more

Sea Grant’s Sam Chan to teach at new OSU academy

CORVALLIS – Sam Chan, Oregon Sea Grant’s invasive species expert, will be among the instructors for Oregon State University’s first-ever Natural Resources Leadership Academy this summer.

NRLA – Applying Risk Analysis to Invasive Species and Sustainable Natural Resources with Sam Chan from Oregon State University – PNE on Vimeo.

The academy, June 15-29, is aimed at natural resources professionals and graduate students who want to enhance their leadership skills,  gain knowledge and connect with others in their fields. The courses, available with or without academic credit, also satisfy curriculum requirements for several OSU degrees.

Participants may choose up to two courses, offered in week-long, all-day sessions, in natural resources conflict management, communication, leadership and sustainability. A $50 fee covers registration for both weeks; additional course fees vary for credit and non-credit registration, and depending on the number of credits taken. Academy pre-registration is required by April 18; course registration runs from April 15-May 7.

Fees do not cover textbooks or lodging; discount lodging is available in OSU dorms and local motels.

For complete information visit the OSU Natural Resources Leadership Academy on the Web.


Volunteers sought for Whale Watch Week

Gray Whale breaching (photo courtesy of NOAA)

Gray Whale breaching (photo courtesy of NOAA)

NEWPORT – If you love whales, enjoy meeting people and don’t mind spending some time outdoors on a blustery winter day, Oregon’s winter Whale Watch Week wants you.

Volunteers are being sought for training as interpreters and whale-spotting guides at state parks up and down the Oregon coast for the annual event, which takes place this year from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

Gray whales can be seen off the Oregon coast year-round, but their numbers peak during their twice-yearly migrations between feeding grounds in Alaska’s Bering Sea and calving lagoons in Baja California. The full round trip  is more than 10,000 miles (16,000 km), the longest known migration for any mammal.

During the peak of the southward migration each winter, as many as 30 whales an hour can be seen off coastal headlands and viewing areas. Gray whales can grow to 40 feet long and 70,000 pounds, and their migrations often bring them close enough to the coast to be spotted by the naked eye, if you know what to look for.

Whale Watch Weeks, started in the late 1970s by Oregon Sea Grant educators at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, has grown to a twice-yearly program administered by Oregon State Parks from its Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay. During the winter and spring weeks, as many as 450 trained volunteers take turns at two dozen of the most popular coastal whale-watch sites, helping visitors spot whales and teaching them about the lives and habits of these giant marine mammals.

Volunteer training for Winter Whale Watch Week will take place on Sat., Dec. 10 at the HMSC Visitor Center in Newport. Dr. Bruce Mate, OSU marine mammal specialist, will preside. Additional training sessions for Spring Whale Watch Week will take place in January and February.

Register for the Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Science Workshop

Registration is now open for the OSU Marine Council and Oregon Sea Grant sponsored Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Science Workshop. The workshop will be held November 29-30 at the OSU Alumni Center, and is open to all Oregon academic faculty. You can find out more information, register for the workshop, and register to give a brief presentation about your research at the following website:

Student posters sought for Oregon’s Ocean conference – Deadline Extended!

Oregon’s Ocean: Catching the Next Wave of Discoveries

FLORENCE – This year’s Heceta Head Coastal Conference, Oct. 29, will feature the fresh faces of ocean research in Oregon. Participants will learn about the cutting edge of marine science in our waters, focusing on new discoveries and future directions, including a student research poster session highlighting the next generation of Oregon’s scientists from colleges and universities throughout our state.

Graduate and undergraduate students who have conducted ocean-related research are invited to submit their projects, and researchers with promising students are encouraged to spread the word.  The poster submission deadline has been extended to September 30. Download the .pdf announcement for details.

Join us as we look ahead to confronting the challenges facing our ocean, how they are being addressed, and how results will affect YOU!  Oregon Sea Grant is co-sponsoring and organizing the conference. Watch for the full program announcement here this summer.

Registration nears for HMSC Career Day

Young scientists build their own ROVNEWPORT – Registration opens Feb. 1 for “CSI: Careers in Science Investigation,” the popular Hatfield Marine Science Center program for high school-aged students interested in exploring careers in marine and natural sciences.

The career day program takes place on Friday, April 8 from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm at the HMSC Visitor Center in Newport. The cost is $15/student.

Presented each spring and fall by the Oregon Sea Grant marine education program, the day-long program offers 9th-through-12th-graders an opportunity to spend a day interacting with working scientists on field research projects, learning about current research, recent discoveries and cutting-edge techniques, and taking part in hands-on activities – including building their own Remotely Operated Vehicles.

A highlight of this spring’s program will send participants out onto the Yaquina Bay mudflats to work alongside scientists sampling the rate of parasitic isopods in local ghost shrimp populations. Budding scientists are advised to bring boots and  rain gear, and to expect to get very wet and muddy!

Other sessions will focus on marine mammals, deep-ocean vents, wave energy, and marine invertebrate biology.

Space is limited, and reservations go fast. Read more and download a printable registration form.

Seattle symposium: Energy use in Fisheries

Federal agencies are teaming with nongovernmental organizations to sponsor a symposium on “Energy use in Fisheries: Improving Efficiency and Technological Innovations from a Global Perspective,”  November 14-17 in Seattle.

Sponsored by NOAA Fisheries Service, NOAA National Sea Grant, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Pacific Marine Expo, the World Bank and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO, the symposium will look at  the direct and indirect effects of global energy costs on the seafood harvesting, processing and marketing sectors.

The symposium resulted from planning by the Sea Grant Safe and Sustainable Seafood Supply (SSSS) focus team. More than 90 presentations by experts from all over the world will address local and regional solutions for addressing energy challenges. Participants will identify and discuss management strategies, alternate gear and vessel designs, alternate fuels, vessel operation and maintenance strategies, and a set of metrics to measure the level of energy reduction.

Guest speakers include Jeff Steele, who led a green refit for the F/V Time Bandit, a vessel featured on Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” television show, and Chris Dixon who supplied a South Carolina shrimp boat with waste vegetable oil from the Margaritaville Restaurant.

To register and to learn more:

Sea Grant Summer Scholars present their work

Oregon Sea Grant’s first class of undergraduate Summer Scholars will present their projects and research in an August 11 symposium at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

The symposium runs from 1 to 3 pm in the Guin Library Seminar Room.

Sea Grant’s Summer Scholars program, launched this year, provides undergraduates with hands-on experience and training in marine science and resource management. Students are placed with Oregon resource agencies for the summer, assigned to specific research or outreach programs, and trained in subjects such as ecosystem-based management, professional and scientific communication, field-based scientific methods, natural resource policy development, and roles of federal, state and local governments in natural resource management.

The scholars who will be presenting their work on Aug. 11 are:

  • AnnaRose Adams, Oregon State University, assigned to the Oregon Sea Grant program office on the OSU campus, under the mentorship of program director Steve Brandt and Julie Risien.
  • Daniel Brusa, SUNY-Rockland Community College, New York, who is assigned to the Lincoln County Sea Grant Extention team in Newport, under the mentorship of Extension faculty member Kaety Hildenbrand.
  • Ian Heller, Vassar College, New York, assigned to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s West Coast Ecology Division at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, under the mentorship of Ted Dewitt.
  • Phillip Sanchez, University of Florida-Gainesville, assigned to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s West Coast Ecology Division at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, under the mentorship of Jim Power.
  • Katie Wrubel, California State University-Monterey Bay, assigned to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Charleston office, under the mentorship of Scott Groth.