OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

marine science and the coast

OSU alumni are invited to spend a weekend at the coast

CORVALLIS - Oregon State University alumni and supporters are invited to spend a weekend in Newport July 25-27 learning about whales, mystery writing, and getting a behind-the-scenes peek at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

The weekend package begins with a dinner at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center on Friday, July 25. Following dinner, the staff will take participants for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the research OSU conducts at the center.

On Saturday, mystery writer Ron Lovell, a former professor of journalism and English at OSU, will discuss the art of mystery writing. Lovell's book, "Murder at Yaquina Head," was published last year. Lovell's talk will be followed by a tour of the Newport bay front and a private tour of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, where participants will learn about OSU's latest research at the lighthouse site.

OSU President Tim White will join the tour Saturday night for a beach barbecue at the Hallmark Resort.

At Sunday's farewell brunch, Bruce Mate, one of the world's leading whale researchers, will deliver a talk, "Traveling in the Mist of a Whale's Blow: Discovering their Mysterious Habits." Mate, known worldwide for his work using satellite technology to track whale migrations, has been featured on the Discovery Channel and other television networks.

The event is sponsored by the OSU Alumni Association. The cost is $100 for association members and $110 for non members. Children ages 6-12 are $50 and children under five are free. The cost includes all activities and meals except Saturday lunch. Lodging is not included. To register call the OSU Alumni Association at 877-305-3759 or go to http://alumni.oregonstate.edu/events/weekend.html.

Source: 

Scott Elmshauser, 541-737-8883

Marine plant life sensitive to nutrient changes

CORVALLIS - A new study shows that marine intertidal plant communities are far more sensitive than had been believed to changes in available nutrients such as nitrogen.

The research, just published by Karina Nielsen from Oregon State University in a professional journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that short- or long-term climate changes that affect coastal upwelling, in addition to over-fishing, could have a profound effect on near-shore plant life in the ocean.

It has long been known that upwelling currents, which bring nitrates and other nutrients to the near-surface of the ocean, were a key to the growth of tiny plants called phytoplankton, and most other fish in the marine food change which ultimately depend on these phytoplankton.

"Until now, however, people thought that most open-coast seaweed communities weren't really limited by nutrient availability, especially not on wave-swept shores where coastal upwelling occurs," said Karina Nielsen, an OSU postdoctoral research associate with the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, or PISCO.

"My experiments showed that there are areas along the open-coast where seaweed communities are limited by nutrients and this changes how abundant and diverse they are, especially when animals that eat seaweeds are scarce," Neilsen said. "Knowing what causes these differences along the coast shows us how changes in ocean climate and over-exploitation of marine animals can affect intertidal communities."

The findings may help scientists identify the best locations for highly productive marine reserves, Nielsen said, and may be of particular relevance to near-shore areas in the Pacific Northwest, which have some of the most abundant and diverse temperate seaweed ecosystems in the world.

In controlled experiments off the central Oregon coast, Nielsen manipulated 42 tide pools by placing small nutrient dispensers in them, releasing nitrates and phosphates, and reducing the abundance of snails, urchins and other invertebrates. The abundance of seaweeds increased up to 35 percent, shifting the whole structure of the community.

Scientists believe that changes in climate, ranging from long-term effects such as global warming to near-term effects such as the Pacific decadal oscillation, may create major changes in current movements and upwelling in many places. It's now clearer, Nielsen said, that such changes could have significant effects on marine plant life, as well as fisheries.

 

Media Contact: 
Source: 

Karina Nielsen, 541-737-8293

Pew panelist: Ocean policies haven't kept up with science

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Scientific knowledge about the oceans has increased tremendously in the last quarter century but U.S. policy for managing its territorial waters has lagged far behind the science, experts say, leading to resource depletion, pollution, habitat destruction and political polarization.

Recommendations by the Pew Oceans Commission released today (June 4) are the first step toward addressing the disparity between growing scientific knowledge and outdated national policies and practices, says Jane Lubchenco, an Oregon State University professor and one of the commission's lead scientists.

"What we know is not reflected in what we do," Lubchenco said. "We are facing historic reductions in what once was thought to be an endless bounty. It doesn't have to be that way. With more responsible, science-based stewardship, we can have sustainable, healthy and resilient ecosystems. But the framework for a coherent management plan has been missing."

One of the recommendations of the Pew Commission is the establishment of Regional Ecosystem Management Councils that would report to a new federal agency. Key components of the proposal call for regional decision-making and a management plan based on ecosystems, not individual species or narrow political jurisdictions.

Lubchenco said one of the obstacles to a sound ocean policy has been a piecemeal regulatory approach that reacts to crises instead of addressing management in a cohesive and precautionary manner.

"Recent scientific findings should be giving us a wakeup call," she said.

A scientific study reported last month in Nature determined that most of the oceans' large predator fish - including tuna, sharks, and other species - have been depleted by some 90 percent from their historic highs. Lubchenco points to other phenomena including increases in algal blooms, the proliferation of invasive species and coral bleaching events as oceanic equivalents to the canary in the coal mine.

Lubchenco said Pew Commission members held an extensive series of public hearings over three years throughout the U.S. and a common refrain was: "The ocean system is collapsing; please help fix it."

One of the problems, Lubchenco says, is that the nation hasn't taken a broad-spectrum approach to ocean management since the Stratton Commission in 1969 charted the way the country thought about our oceans.

Many worthwhile initiatives grew out of that commission, she added, including the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the implementation of the Coastal Zone Management Act and the passage of fisheries management legislation.

The commission's recommendations reflected the knowledge and attitude of the day.

"At the time, it was thought that our oceans were endlessly bountiful and infinitely resilient," Lubchenco said. "In those 30 years, we've discovered that neither is true."

Lubchenco said the area of the ocean over which the U.S. has jurisdiction encompasses an area 23 percent larger than the entire U.S. landmass - in large part because of Hawaii and Pacific territories. Yet its remoteness has led to an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality about management.

Science, common sense, and experience, she says, can help guide the nation toward sustainable ocean policies.

"Recent scientific knowledge emphasizes managing on an ecosystem basis," Lubchenco said. "A focus on single species has caused unintended problems because it ignores by-catch, invasive species, and pollution. Knowing how the pieces fit together enables smarter and less wasteful management."

"We have a wealth of information that is not being incorporated into policy and management."

Lubchenco is a principal investigator for the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans. PISCO, a program supported by a pair of five-year grants totaling $20 million from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, is studying the near-shore region of the Pacific Coast. OSU is one of four universities in the initiative, which Lubchenco says is a prototype for large-scale marine ecosystem-based research.

What she and other scientists are discovering is that the world's oceans are resilient enough to rebound if they are managed properly.

"The message is one we've learned from testing and studying marine reserves," she said, "and that is when you eliminate the destructive activities, the ocean can respond in bounteous fashion and recharge depleted areas outside the reserves. We simply need better stewardship."

If managed properly, Lubchenco says, the oceans can provide sustainable harvests of most seafood at rates well above what we have experienced over the last 20 years. "A key, though," she said, "is to acknowledge the primacy of protecting ocean ecosystems so they in turn can provide the bounty."

Media Contact: 
Source: 

Jane Lubchenco, 541-737-5337

Marine Science Center opens doors for second H.M.S. Seafest

NEWPORT - Coastal visitors are invited to dive into an ocean of discovery this summer when Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center hosts H.M.S. SeaFest 2003, a free daylong event of fun and educational activities for the family set for Saturday, June 21, in Newport.

The event will give the public an opportunity to look behind the scenes of one of the state's leading research and educational facilities. The OSU marine science center occupies more than 200,000 square feet on 49 acres, with an adjacent 250 acres of estuary habitat. Only about 10 percent of the facility - the Visitor Center - is typically open to the public.

It's a popular, free stop for visitors to the coast. But the displays only whet the appetite for a closer look at what goes on in the rest of the facility, where 11 federal, state and other agencies share office and lab space with five OSU programs.

Researchers at the facility study the marine world in all its depth and diversity. Fisheries, undersea volcanoes, marine mammals and the delicate interplay between ocean currents and weather are just a few of the many subjects studied here.

To satisfy that curiosity, the center staff offers H.M.S. SeaFest. The event is part open house, part festival, with plenty to interest visitors of all ages. The free event begins at 10 a.m. This year's activities will include:

  • Tours of the center's labs, the surrounding estuary, a skimmer that responds to oil spills, and the system that circulates thousands of gallons of seawater throughout the facility;
  • Lectures by leading scientists: The keynote address this year will be delivered by Jane Lubchenco, one of Oregon's most prominent scientist and an expert in marine ecology;
  • Children's activities, including crab races, art and coloring, and games;
  • Seafood demonstrations, and displays by recreational fishing and boating groups, local geologists and other community groups and agencies, and an art display;
  • A demonstration of a hovercraft, presented by the Environmental Protection Agency.

More information about H.M.S. SeaFest is available online at http://hmsc.orst.edu/visitor/hmsseafest.html. For accommodations related to disabilities, contact Terri Nogler at 541-867-0271 or send e-mail to terri.nogler@hmsc.orst.edu. The OSU center can be reached by taking the first exit south of the Yaquina Bay bridge.

 

Source: 

Pam Rogers, 541-867-0212

Book details new invader of Northwest waters

CORVALLIS - A book about alien invaders with hideous green claws and eyes on stalks, silently and insidiously moving in on the unsuspecting locals of some obscure backwater - must be a pulp science fiction novel, right?

Wrong. The new volume from Oregon Sea Grant tells the story of a real invader, one that is poised to cause serious trouble in the waters of the Pacific Northwest, just as it has in many other places around the world.

Oregon Sea Grant has published "Global Invader: The European Green Crab," by Sylvia Behrens Yamada. The 140-page book costs $15 and is available by writing to Sea Grant Communications, Oregon State University, 322 Kerr Administration Building, Corvallis, 97331-2131; calling 541-737-2716; faxing 541-737-7958; or sending e-mail to sea.grant.communications@orst.edu.

The European green crab, Carcinus maenus, well deserves its reputation as an international troublemaker. The crab is able to tolerate air exposure, starvation and wide ranges in temperature and salinity. It was introduced from Europe to the Atlantic coast of the U.S. almost 200 years ago and now ranges from Virginia to the southern shores of Canada's Prince Edward Island, resisting repeated efforts to eradicate it. It has spread from its European home to the southern tip of Africa, the shores of Australia and off the coast of Japan.

It was first discovered on the Pacific coast of the United States in 1989, near San Francisco Bay. It had established itself in the Pacific Northwest by 1998 and continues to spread.

Word of the European green crab's arrival in Northwest waters was troubling news to the region's fishers, ecologists, fishery managers and others. The invader is a voracious predator. It muscles out native crab species and makes it difficult for young bivalves, urchins and barnacles to establish themselves. Researchers fear that the green crab's growth in the Northwest will have serious ecological and economic effects.

Yamada's book describes the biology and life history of the European green crab, presents five case studies of green crab invasions and discusses the crab's ecological and economic impact on the Pacific Northwest. It includes line drawings and color plates of the European green crab as well as many native Northwest species for comparison.

Although directed at fishers, Extension agents, fishery managers and others who need to recognize green crabs in the course of their work, the book will also be of interest to researchers and others interested in invasive species and the Pacific Northwest coast.

Source: 

Sandy Ridlington, 541-737-0755

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European Green Crab
European Green Crab

NOAA taps OSU as cooperative institute for satellite studies

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has given a five-year grant of at least $2.5 million to Oregon State University to establish its first Cooperative Institute for Oceanographic Satellite Studies.

OSU's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences will administer the grant, which could expand to as much as nearly $21 million. COAS has become an international leader in the use of satellite technology to study the world's oceans, and its advanced computing network for marine research is one of the most sophisticated of its kind in the world.

The grant establishes a partnership between the university and NOAA to develop a wide-ranging research program that will help the federal agency improve its operations, according to Mark Abbott, dean of the OSU college.

"What the institute will do is allow our faculty to collaborate more closely with NOAA to create a focal point for satellite-based oceanographic research," Abbott said. "The use of satellites to study the oceans, coastlines and climate has tremendous potential, and we've only begun to scratch the surface of that research."

"We will be able to create an enormous baseline of data that will have implications for climate modeling and prediction, a better understanding of El Nino and La Nina influences, tsunami and storm research, and the impact of currents and erosion on the coast and coastal communities," he added.

Among the goals of the new Cooperative Institute for Oceanographic Satellite Studies (CIOSS):

  • Promote greater use of satellite oceanographic data in ocean and climate research projects;
  • Develop technology and techniques supporting the highest quality environmental prediction and assessment products;
  • Improve the use of satellite oceanographic data in environmental prediction models;
  • Promote the availability of satellite-derived environmental data and information through full and open access and exchange; and
  • Provide national and global leadership in civilian oceanography through the development of new satellite oceanographic sensors, applications and education.

Ultimately, the public will reap the benefits of the new cooperative institute through increased knowledge of the world's oceans and climates and how they interrelate, officials say.

"The goal of this institute is to help unlock some of the mysteries of the climate and ocean that will lead to better forecasting and monitoring products through increased use of data," said Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

OSU President Tim White emphasized the role of CIOSS in improving our understanding of coastal oceans. "This new institute will continue our long partnership with NOAA and bring the power of remote sensing to the study of our nation's coastal ocean and its links to the deep ocean and atmosphere," he said.

A division of NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service funds four other cooperative institutes in atmospheric sciences, but the program at OSU is the first with an emphasis on the coastal ocean.

Abbott said the initial focus of the institute's research would be the California Current system, which roughly parallels the West Coast of the United States within 500 miles of the coast and greatly influences the weather of a huge area.

"Some of the prediction models and products that we develop for that system will have applications to other coastal regions of the U.S. and the world," Abbott said.

The five-year grant will provide funds of at least $500,000 each year. However, additional proposals to NOAA could increase this amount to $5 million annually in the final four years of the grant. The grant is renewable for another six years, after which OSU will have the opportunity to compete again for the funding for another extended period.

The National Research Council has rated OSU's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences as one of the top five oceanographic institutions in the nation.

Media Contact: 
Source: 

Mark Abbott, 541-737-5195

OSU appoints new director of Marine/Freshwater Biomedical Center

CORVALLIS - After serving for the past several years as deputy director, David Williams, professor of environmental and molecular toxicology, assumed directorship of the Oregon State University Marine/Freshwater Biomedical Sciences Center on Jan. 1.

Williams replaces George Bailey, who will remain with the center to concentrate on his research.

Bailey, distinguished professor of environmental and molecular toxicology, has been director of the center since its inception in 1985 following a $1.8 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Williams, who has been at the center since 1987, said he expects the center will continue to grow and develop new areas of research using aquatic models. He said there are nine principal investigators, 20 postdoctoral trainees, nine undergraduate and 34 graduate students currently associated with the center. Center investigators were successful in attracting more than $7 million dollars in extramural research funding in 2001 alone.

"Our goal is to identify productive avenues of research and develop new models in order to continue as leaders in the utilization of aquatic species in biomedical research," Williams said. "The center is extremely fortunate to have strong institutional support and close ties to other related programs, including the Environmental Health Sciences Center, The Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology and the Linus Pauling Institute".

Williams is in the process of moving into a newly renovated lab on the fourth floor of Weniger Hall on the OSU campus and the lab next door will be renovated for Bailey. The center's offices will also move to the fourth floor of Weniger Hall.

The center will continue to promote research and training activities that utilize aquatic research models to investigate environmentally related human diseases. Current research focuses on the study of cancer and neurotoxicology.

"We have several exciting studies under way and we recently submitted a grant proposal to the National Cancer Institute to study chlorophyllin using trout as a model," Williams said. "During the last funding cycle we added neurotoxicology research as a focus. The neurotoxicology unit has been doing outstanding work."

The Neurotoxicology Research Core links the laboratories of a natural products chemist, a synthetic chemist, a neuropharmacologist, and a cell biochemist into a cohesive program to discover and describe the properties of new neurotoxins from marine microalgae.

Source: 

David Williams, 541-737-3277

Extension-sponsored video receives Telly Award

"Coming Home Was Easy" explores the history and culture of trolling through the recollections of 15 fishermen and women grounded in outdoor experience. Their stories are honest, funny, and profound.

Featuring scenes of contemporary fishing, historic footage and photographs taken by the trollers themselves, and music by Pacific Northwest folk artists, the video was produced by Jim Bergeron and Lawrence Johnson. The Clatsop County Oral History Fund sponsored the interviews. Margaret Hollenbach, a cultural anthropologist and writer for Pacific Fishing magazine, wrote the script.

"Coming Home Was Easy" shows how, through a combination of adaptation and what the filmmakers call just plain stubbornness, trollers continue their way of life into the 21st century.

The Telly Awards program was founded in 1980, giving recognition to outstanding film and video productions, non-network TV programming and non-network and cable TV commercials.

Since its inception, the Telly Awards has become a well-known national competition; more than 10,000 entries are received each year. Judges rate each on a 10-point scale, and any entry receiving a score of 7 to 8.9 is a finalist and receives a Bronze Telly. All entries receiving 9 or higher are judged "winners" and receive Silver awards.

Winners in last year's competition included entries from the U.S. Postal Service, Nabisco, Coca-Cola, The Weather Channel, MTV and the Cartoon Network.

"Coming Home Was Easy" is available on videotape ($25 plus $3.50 postage) from Oregon Sea Grant Communications, Oregon State University, 322 Kerr, Admin. Bldg., Corvallis, OR 97331-2131.

Bergeron, an OSU graduate, went on teach high school and oceanographic technology at Clatsop Community College, as well as commercial fisheries courses at Kodiak Community College. After working in the fishing industry for several years, he took the position of Extension Sea Grant agent at Astoria, a position he held 27 years, until retiring in January 2002.

Johnson has been making documentary films and videos since 1983. His work in history and culture has received many awards. He writes and produces programming for museums across the country.

Source: 

Extension Sea Grant, 541-737-8935

Seals on the beach: Leave them alone

NEWPORT - Tamara McGuire knows why people try to "rescue" baby seals from the beach, even though the action actually endangers them.

"They're adorable," she said.

McGuire is the new coordinator for the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Working out of Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center, she responds to any report of a marine mammal washing up on the Oregon coast, alive or dead, and coordinates volunteers who watch the beaches for such events.

At this time of year, the biggest problem is people trying to rescue seal pups that don't need rescuing, despite their apparent helplessness.

Seals give birth to their pups on Oregon beaches in the spring. At times, the mother seal will give birth to a pup that is not fully developed and must leave it ashore for periods of time while the pup completes its development and the mother hunts for food. The mother will return to nurse the pup at night, when there are no people about. Pups will often spend as long as a week on the beach before they have developed enough to go to sea with their mothers.

The animals are so cute, and appear so helpless, that people just feel compelled to try to help them, McGuire said. But if they do, there's a good chance the young animal, cut off from its mother, will die.

Picking the animals up drastically increases the chance that the animal will not survive, she said.

Every year, people pick up pups and try to take them to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center, or the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. It is not uncommon for seal pups to end up in motel bathtubs as well-meaning rescuers try to find someone to save it.

The reality is, there is no facility on the coast that will take the animals. It's actually against state law to harass stranded seal pups, and that includes removing them from the beach for their "protection."

In late March McGuire got a call about a pup that appeared abandoned at Salishan Spit, so she went to investigate. Until then, she said, she never really understood the impulse to try to help the infant seals. When she found it motionless on the beach, she at first assumed it was dead.

"Then it raised its head and looked at me. They're adorable, with those deep brown eyes. And they make a cry to keep in contact with their mother."

She left the newly born pup on the beach under the assumption that the mother was nearby at sea and would continue caring for it.

In another recent incident at Gold Beach, a ranger, going down a trail ran into a visitor coming up the trail with a pup under its arm. He explained the situation and helped the visitor return it to the spot where it was found.

During the next few weeks McGuire expects to begin receiving dozens, perhaps hundreds, of similar calls. If visitors to the beach find a stranded seal pup, she said, the best thing for them to do is leave it alone - and make sure other people and dogs keep away from the young animals. There is nothing more to do, and nothing else that legally can be done.

"If you really want to help, if you just can't walk off and leave the animal alone, call the hotline," McGuire said.

The coastal hotline was set up to report live or dead marine mammals, or harassment of marine mammals by people or their pets. The number is 1-800-452-7888.

The Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network also responds to seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales that wash up on the beach, attempting either to care for them or, in the case of dead animals, determining the cause of death. In a recent case, she said, a young gray whale washed ashore north of Newport, a crab pot and length line wrapped around its tail. Such cases are important to document, she said.

The funding for McGuire's position comes from a one-year, renewable federal grant administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, specifically set up for marine mammal protection.

Source: 

Tamara McGuire, 541-867-0446

OSU Institute Gets Grant from Irwins to Study Whales in Southern Hemisphere

NEWPORT, Ore. – The Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University will begin studies in 2008 in both the southern and northern hemispheres on a variety of whale species to improve information on their habitats and stock identity, which could eliminate the need for killing whales solely for gathering research data.

Funding for the project, which will use high-tech, non-lethal methods, will be provided primarily through grants from Terri Irwin, wife of internationally recognized wildlife advocate Steve Irwin (the “Crocodile Hunter”).

Japan has been a focal point in recent years for harvesting whales for scientific purposes – a practice that has put the country at odds with many in the scientific community and the public at-large. The Japanese whaling fleet had planned to kill up to 50 endangered humpback whales this year, but in the wake of international protests, officials there announced they would suspend their harvest of humpback whales, but will continue with plans to kill 935 minke whales and 50 fin whales.

Both humpback and fin whales are listed on the Endangered Species List in the United States, and considered “vulnerable” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Redbook.

“Very few people in the scientific community believe that the best way to study these amazing animals is to kill them,” said Bruce Mate, director of OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute and an internationally recognized expert in whale migration and behavior.

Terri Irwin, who announced the research plans in an interview with Australian journalists, has been a vocal opponent of Japan’s harvesting of whales for scientific data. “We can actually learn everything the Japanese are learning with lethal research by using non-lethal research,” she said.

Mate said the new project will identify migration routes, critical habitats and ranges of the whales – factors that ultimately will improve population estimates and help resource managers identify stocks.

“Marine mammal researchers worldwide have not agreed on population estimates for most southern hemisphere whale populations,” Mate said. “We hope that the data we collect will determine for the first time which whale stocks were most affected by historic whaling at specific sites – and allow us to estimate where we are in the recovery of those specific depleted populations.”

A side benefit of the research, Mate added, will be the identification of “hot spots” of whale feeding and breeding activities that could be better protected against inadvertent impacts from human activities.

Much of the OSU research will involve the use of satellite-monitored radio tagging, pioneered by Mate, to track migration, feeding, breeding and calving activities. Another integral component of the research will focus on whale genetics and hormone data, collected in a non-lethal manner, which will identify specific population stocks. Scott Baker, associate director of OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute, will conduct those studies.

The contributions by the Irwin family from Australia Zoo and Wildlife Warriors Worldwide will fund research at the OSU Marine Mammal Institute for several years, Mate said. Though details are still being developed, research will be conducted annually in both the southern and northern hemispheres, focusing on species depleted due to whaling.

“I have confidence that the research we are sponsoring will demonstrate how advanced technology can replace harvest-based data,” said Terri Irwin.

More information on OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute is available online at: http://mmi.oregonstate.edu.html.

Media Contact: 
Source: 

Bruce Mate,
541-867-0202; 541-272-1175 (cell)