New edition of Confluence now available

The fall/winter 2016 edition of Oregon Sea Grant’s semiannual newsletter, Confluence, is now available online. Articles you’ll find in this issue:

  • Guidelines help boaters enjoy watching whales without disturbing them;
  • University of Oregon study reveals why hypoxia hasn’t affected Coos Bay;
  • Simulator helps coastal residents prepare tsunami evacuation strategy;
  • Students get their feet wet in watershed science with StreamWebs;
  • Oregon Sea Grant helps prepare coastal kids for high-tech jobs; and
  • When human health affects environmental health.

You can download a free PDF here.

Oregon Sea Grant's semiannual newsletter

MATE ROV competition in North Bend this weekend

NORTH BEND – Forty-three teams of elementary, middle school, high school and college students from across Oregon descend on the North Bend Community Pool and North Bend High Schoolthis Saturday, April 30, to try out their hand-built underwater robots in the Oregon regional section of the annual Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Remotely Operated Vehicle competition.

The event, which is open to the public, runs from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m.

Team works on ROVThe Oregon competition is one of 24 regional contests held around the world under the coordination of the MATE Center. Top teams from upper level divisions will earn an opportunity to compete in MATE’s 15th annual international ROV competition June 23-25 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

This year’s contest highlights the role of ROVs in scientific research and exploration in the deep ocean and outer space. Students will pilot their RVs through missions designed to meet NASA-identified needs. Among other things, teams are challenged to build a robot that can survive transport to Jupiter’s moon, Europa, and operate in the ocean beneath the moon’s ice sheet to collect data and deploy instrumentation. Teams must also create a poster and be interviewed by engineering judges.

The competition promotes entrepreneurship and leadership skills by requiring students to organize their teams into a company, with each student taking on a specific roll as they design, manufacture and market their student-built robots. They must manage a project and budget, brainstorm innovative solutions and work as a team – all important workforce skills.

The Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition is supported by numerous partners and more than 50 volunteers who serve as divers, judges and support staff. This year’s competition is sponsored by the Oregon Coast Stem Hub.

Learn more:



Renewable energy challenge brings kids to Hatfield Center

2015 Renewable Energy ChallengeNEWPORT – More than 200 third- through 12th-graders will demonstrate their knowledge of wind-, wave- and solar energy on April 19 in the third annual Oregon Coast Renewable Energy Challenge at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. The event takes place from 10 am to 2 pm.
Students from Warrenton, Seaside, Tillamook, Toledo and Waldport will bring their student built renewable energy devices to compete for top honors at this year’s competition. In addition to testing their devices in wave tanks, solar tracks and in a wind tunnel, teams will interact with a panel of engineering judges who will further rate teams on knowledge and design innovation.
Students will also have the opportunity to hear about current research on potential impacts of offshore wind energy devices, and participate in HMSC’s Sustainability Quest, an educational clue-directed hunt.
This year’s Oregon Coast Renewable Energy Challenge is made possible by support from the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund, Georgia-Pacific Foundation, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University, and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub. Teams with top wind energy devices will be invited to participate in the National KidWind Challenge  in New Orleans at the end of May.


Videos of Critical Issues in Adapting to Climate Change

Crashing waves

A set of three short videos highlights some critical issues related to climate change at the Oregon coast. Those issues are flagged by the video titles:

How Soon Do We Have to Think Differently?

. . . How Should We Adapt?

. .  and the overarching goal of having Community Resilience.

The videos, intended primarily for those involved in or concerned about the issues that adapting to climate change presents for coastal areas, were produced by Oregon Sea Grant with the cooperation of a range of climate researchers and coastal professionals who are interviewed on camera. The themes of the videos emerged from surveys, interviews, and workshops conducted by Sea Grant and partners in the last few years.

Coastal professionals in other states, as well as in Oregon, may find the perspectives and insights of these videos useful or provocative.

In addition to the high definition versions on linked above, the same videos are on YouTube, where closed captioning is available:

 How Soon Do We Have to Think Differently?

How Should We Adapt?

Community Resilience  (Neskowin, Oregon, is the focus.)

NB: The URL for the last video above has been corrected (1/28/15)



Confluence: Oregon communities respond to climate change

Confluence cover

Cover by artist Earl Newman

Climate change: Some people feel overwhelmed by it, others argue about it. Oregon Sea Grant researchers, Extension specialists and communicators, meanwhile are working to better understand what a changing climate is already doing to the ocean and coast – and helping coastal communities better prepare themselves for higher and more damaging waves, stronger storms, rising sea level and other anticipated changes.

The latest issue of OSG’s Confluence magazine examines some of the issues coastal Oregon faces, and ways in which Sea Grant is helping citizens and scientists address them, from anticipating the effects of climate change to building resilience in the face of them – and better understanding how people with different backgrounds and philosophies can even communicate about the topic.

Other articles in this issue include

  • Profiles of several Oregon Sea Grant Scholars, and how their student experiences in Sea Grant internships and fellowships helped prepare them for careers in marine science and public policy
  • A new app that helps coastal visitors identify critters they find on the beach – and contribute to citizen science by reporting them.
  • A study of how juvenile Dungeness crab move through coastal waters as they mature, and an exhibit at the Hatfield Marine Science Center that explains what scientists are learning, and how it might benefit the crab fishery.

Learn more

ROV teams compete for regional honors

Taft High School ROV team  launches Ocean's Hope at 2013 competitionLINCOLN CITY – —More than 150 elementary, middle school, high school and college students in 27 teams bring their underwater robots to the Lincoln City Community Center on May 10 to compete in the annual Oregon Regional MATE Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) contest. The event is free and open to the public.

The teams, which have spent the past few months designing and building the underwater vehicles, join students around the world participating in 23 regional contests supported by the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center. Qualifying participants will earn the chance to advance to MATE’s International ROV Competition June 26 – 28, at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Michigan.

Coordinated by Oregon Sea Grant, the Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition encourages students from Astoria to Bandon and Bend to The Dalles, to develop and apply science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills as they work collaboratively to create working ROVs—tethered underwater robots used in ocean exploration, scientific research, and marine technology industries—to complete missions that simulate real-world tasks.

This year’s competition is thematically organized around the role of ROVs in exploring and documenting shipwrecks and conserving national maritime heritage sites such as the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where more than 50 shipwrecks are submerged. The competition helps students understand how chemical, biological and physical conditions can affect such archaeological sites.

Competing teams participating will perform a variety of underwater mission tasks, piloting their ROVs to identify a simulated shipwreck, collect microbial samples, inventory invasive species and remove debris. Students are challenged to think like entrepreneurs and form companies that develop creative solutions for engineering and constructing an ROV to document and explore a newly discovered wreck site. During the process, the students develop the teamwork, creative thinking and problem solving skills that make them competitive in today’s global workplace. The project requires them to solve problems in new and innovative ways, work as part of a team and understand all aspects of business operations—important 21st century skills.

Teams from the following schools and organizations are participating in the competition: Bandon High School, Cheldelin Middle School (Corvallis), Clatsop Community College (Astoria), Eddyville Charter School, Life Christian School (Aloha), Linn-Benton Community College (Albany), Meek Pro Tech High School (Portland), Oregon State University (Corvallis), Summit High School (Bend),,Taft 7-12 (Lincoln City), Tahola Middle School (Tahola, WA), The Dalles High School, Toledo Elementary, Toledo Jr/Sr High School, Waldport High School and Wasco County 4-H.

The Oregon Regional MATE ROV Competition is supported by many sponsors, including Oregon State University, the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Center, Lincoln County School District, the Marine Technology Society-Oregon Chapter, the Siletz Charitable Contribution Fund, the Cascade Chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, and Tanger Outlet Mall. Local marine technology professionals and engineers volunteer as judges for the competition, evaluating the students’ ROVs, poster displays, and engineering presentations. Numerous other volunteers donate their time each year, serving as divers and support staff for the competition, making it a community-wide effort.

For more information,  contact Tracy Crews at

Learn more:

Teachers invited to free wave energy workshop

Youngsters explore wave energy lab at HMSC

NEWPORT – A free workshop at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center will familiarize Oregon coastal teachers with  current research and developments in wave energy, and how they can use the topic to create lessons where students can learn and apply Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills.

The workshop takes place from 9 am to noon Saturday, Nov. 16 and is open to second- through 12th-grade teachers up and down the Oregon coast. Sponsors are the Oregon Coast Regional STEM center, OSU, Oregon Sea Grant and the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center.

Participants will learn about latest developments in the field of wave energy,   create and test model wave energy devices, and receive a wave energy curriculum and supplies to use in the classroom. They will also learn how they can involve their students in the Oregon Coast Renewable Energy Challenge in March 2014.

For more information, and to download a .pdf flyer and registration form, visit the HMSC Visitor Center’s teacher resources page.

Highest-risk town faces up to tsunami threat

Modeling tsunami wavesSEASIDE – Scientists agree that the “big one” — an earthquake reaching  magnitude 9.0 or higher — has a 10 to 15 percent chance of striking somewhere off the U.S. west coast in the Cascadia Subduction Zone within the next 50 years. Fifteen to 20 minutes later, a tsunami will move in and drown many coastal communities.

Geologists consider the town of Seaside – much of which sits at sea level –  “the highest-risk community on the Oregon coast,” said Yumei Wang, a geotechnical engineer at the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

Little wonder that earthquake and tsunami preparedness is one of the Seaside School District’s main selling points for bond measure 4-168, which would fund a new $128.8 million K-12 campus to be built in the wooded hills east of Seaside Heights Elementary School. In the event of a natural catastrophe, the building housing the schools would double as an emergency shelter for the community.

These two concerns — a new learning environment for schools above the 80-foot tsunami inundation zone and the need for a refuge from a Japanese-style disaster — are the basis for SAFE (Support a Future for Education), a political action committee formed to generate support for the bond.

Learn more:

New fact sheet describes different types of wave-energy devices

Wave-Energy-Devices-coverToday about 87 percent of the world’s energy consumption relies on nonrenewable energy sources such as oil, natural gas, and coal. The burning of these fossil fuels releases pollutants into the atmosphere and can result in environmental damage. An abundant and promising source of renewable energy exists in the forms of wave, tidal, marine current, ocean thermal energy conversion, and salinity.

This two-page fact sheet, A Primer on Wave Energy: Wave-Energy Devices, describes nine different types of wave-energy devices currently under development or nearing completion.

You can download the publication for free here.

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.”