marine science and the coast

Lecture by undersea adventurer Don Walsh kicks off SeaFest

NEWPORT - Famed undersea explorer Don Walsh, who made history in 1960 co-piloting a submersible dive to the ocean's greatest known depths, will deliver a special evening lecture at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center on June 24 beginning at 7 p.m.

His lecture kicks off the fourth annual SeaFest celebration, which continues on Saturday.

In 1960, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Walsh and Swiss undersea explorer Jacques Piccard navigated an early generation submersible, the Bathyscaph Trieste, to the deepest point in the world's oceans. This was the Challenger Deep in the western Pacific, at a depth of 35,840 feet, still the world's record. Forty-five years later, more than 1,000 people have stood atop Mt. Everest, nearly as many have gone into space, yet only two men have ever been to the ocean's greatest depth.

Walsh will speak about his pioneering experiences over the past 40-plus years in ocean exploration. In the audience will be some of the new generation of undersea explorers - scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) hydrothermal vents research group at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

"Recounting these early experiences of ocean exploration points out where we've been and how much we have yet to learn," said Stephen Hammond, leader of an ocean research program at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Lab in Newport. Hammond also is acting director of NOAA's Ocean Exploration Program in Washington, D.C.

Following the Walsh lecture will be a reception and birthday cake-cutting in honor of the Hatfield Marine Science Center's 40th anniversary, which is being celebrated in 2005. It will be a reunion for former students, researchers and staff of the center, who are being invited back to Newport for the event.

The public is also invited to attend both the lecture and reception.

The Friday evening lecture launches the center's annual SeaFest celebration, which continues on Saturday with a day-long open house and community festival on the grounds of the Hatfield Marine Science Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To learn more about SeaFest 2005, information can be found online at the OSU website: http://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/seafest/ or by calling 541-867-0212. Website information will be updated as activities are added to the schedule.



Hatfield Marine Science Center, 541-867-0234

OSU's Hatfield Center, Oregon Coast Aquarium sign pact

NEWPORT - The Oregon coast's leading marine science research facility and one of its leading tourism and public outreach attractions will partner in a series of ventures designed to ultimately increase the "ocean literacy" of the general public.

Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center and the Oregon Coast Aquarium have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on research, education and outreach.

"It is a partnership that is long overdue," said George Boehlert, director of OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center. "Given our proximity, and the similarity of our missions, it is surprising that it hasn't happened before. By working together, we can leverage additional resources and provide more opportunities for Oregonians by sharing research expertise, laboratories, classrooms, display areas and educational programming."

Dale Schmidt, president and CEO of the Oregon Coast Aquarium, said the details of the collaboration will develop over time. But, he added, the partnership already has begun.

"We are working more closely with the scientists and educators at the marine science center than ever before," Schmidt said. "We share similar missions of education and outreach, but Hatfield has much more behind-the-scenes research on ocean and estuarine dynamics and habitat, while our strength is in bringing to the public's attention the creatures that live in those environments.

"Putting our expertise together should result in a dynamic array of educational possibilities, research projects, and outreach programs."

One area of collaboration already well under way is a partnership between the two institutions and Oregon Coast Community College, offering the only two-year degree program in the nation that focuses on aquarium science.

OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center is located just east of the Highway 101 bridge in Newport. The 49-acre campus has about 300 employees; 40 percent from OSU and the rest representing a number of state and federal agencies, including the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Its teaching and research laboratories support investigation in marine biology and ecology, oceanography, botany, microbiology, zoology, geochemistry, genetics, marine fisheries and aquaculture. Since the 1960s, the Oregon Sea Grant Program has led informal activities at the Newport facility and now manages the popular visitor's center, which draws more than 125,000 visitors annually. The Hatfield center also has docking facilities for two OSU research ships, the Wecoma and the Elakha.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium - located just a few hundred yards to the south - draws roughly half a million visitors a year. Its touring education outreach program visited more than 10,000 students last year, and another 20,000 students attended on-site classes.

The aquarium has a well-known sea otter breeding program and is conducting research on the animals' olfactory capabilities. The facility also is home to several other rehabilitation and conservation programs that encompass the western snowy plover, the Oregon silverspot butterfly, and yelloweye rockfish. It was the first zoological facility to hatch a rhinoceros auklet in captivity.

Both facilities annually draw thousands of school children for field trips, and both Boehlert and Schmidt say the students' experience at the central Oregon coast can be even greater as the two facilities begin to work together on programming, exhibits, and field trip opportunities.

Norma Paulus, a former Oregon Superintendent of Public Instruction and a board member of the Oregon Coast Aquarium, said the benefits of such collaboration could be profound. "Working together on youth and family educational programs is a natural for this cooperation," Paulus said. "Together, OSU and the Oregon Coast Aquarium have the potential to develop educational tools and curricula in marine science that can improve education statewide and potentially have national impacts."

OSU President Ed Ray first met with aquarium board members in the fall of 2004 to initiate discussions of cooperation. At that time, he said, the National Ocean Policy Commission had just called for new educational programming to increase the public's ocean literacy.

"I firmly believe that the Oregon Coast Aquarium's public-serving expertise, and the academic and research capabilities of OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center can blend together to develop some exciting, far-reaching programs that bring notable focus to Oregon," Ray said.

Media Contact: 

George Boehlert, 541-867 0444

Oregon Sea Grant program rated "excellent throughout"

CORVALLIS - A national panel of experts spent four days this month reviewing the Oregon Sea Grant Program based at Oregon State University, and gave the program its highest rating, "excellent."

"Oregon Sea Grant is excellent throughout, and the program assessment team was extremely impressed," said Robin Alden, chair of the team and a member of the national Sea Grant Review Panel.

The OSU-based Oregon Sea Grant conducts programs of research, education, extension, and communications relating to marine and coastal resources.

Rich Holdren, OSU's senior associate vice president for research, noted that Oregon Sea Grant "received the highest score that any program has received since these reviews were initiated." There are 30 state Sea Grant programs - one in every coastal state.

The review scored program management and planning but gave its main emphasis to Sea Grant's success in connecting with users of information, such as the fishing industry, adult education teachers, and the research community. In those connections, Alden said, Oregon Sea Grant is "exemplary - extremely strong."

And in each category of contribution to science and technology, to extension, public communications, and education, the reviewers rated the program as demonstrating the "highest performance."

After considering documentation and hearing throughout their visit from those who benefited from Sea Grant initiatives such as the Groundfish Disaster Outreach Project and the program's management of the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center, the assessment team gave the program highest marks for delivering significant results relating to society, the economy, and the environment.

Mandated by Congress, the review of state Sea Grant programs occurs approximately every four to five years. The last review, in which Oregon emerged as one of the two best programs among 30 in the nation, was conducted in 2000. The team of six reviewers included senior individuals from academia, government, and the private sector.


Bob Malouf, 541-737-2714

Popular SeaFest Celebration to Return to Oregon Coast on June 23

NEWPORT, Ore. – After a one-year hiatus, the popular SeaFest celebration returns to the Oregon coast on Saturday, June 23, at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

The event offers entertaining and educational activities for visitors of all ages, with exhibits, lectures and interactive displays that celebrate the ocean’s bounty and Oregon’s coastal heritage, while seeking to increase public understanding of the marine environment and human impacts.

Among the activities will be a tour of OSU research vessels Elakha and Pacific Storm; a search-and-rescue exercise by the U.S. Coast Guard in Yaquina Bay; behind-the-scene tours of the research facilities at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, and numerous displays, lectures and hands-on activities.

SeaFest kicks off with two evening lectures on Friday, June 22, and continues on Saturday with a full day of activities beginning at 10 a.m. All events are free and open to the public.

“SeaFest is a great opportunity for people to spend a day or two at the Oregon coast and gain access to one of the premier research and education facilities related to marine science in the United States,” said George Boehlert, director of OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. “Beyond the always popular touch tanks and exhibits in the visitor’s center, SeaFest visitors will get a peak at how some of our top scientists carry out their research.”

Behind-the-scenes tours will include a look at the facility’s unique seawater distribution system that allows the center to conduct research and maintain a diverse population of ocean fishes, crabs, sea stars and other invertebrates, including the giant Pacific octopus. Visitors can also tour the “nursery” for one of Oregon’s premier oyster breeding and stocking programs, a marine organism quarantine hospital with holding tanks for animals, and other laboratories.

Kipp Shearman, an OSU oceanographer, and his colleagues will show one of the undersea gliders used in ongoing research off the Oregon coast. The gliders can be programmed to run for three weeks at a time, collecting various oceanic measurements, and surfacing to “phone” the results to HMSC and OSU laboratories via satellite.

Guided walks along the estuary trail will offer visitors the chance to see and learn about the diversity of wildlife found in Yaquina Bay. SeaFest visitors also may board the “Oregon Rocket,” a 27-foot inflatable craft operated by Marine Discovery Tours for a free ride across the bay to Newport’s historic bayfront.

Saturday’s lectures in the main auditorium will address the topic of climate change, beginning with a presentation at 11 a.m. by Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, “Oregon’s Response to Global Climate Change Projections.”

Other Saturday lectures include “The Changing Rhythms of Oregon’s Coast Ocean,” by OSU oceanographer Jack Barth, beginning at 1 p.m.; “Climate Change and Ocean Conditions in Oregon’s Coastal Waters,” by NOAA fisheries specialist Bill Peterson at 1:30 p.m.; and “Impacts on Oregon’s Ocean Ecosystems and Salmon,” by OSU oceanographer Michael Harte at 2 p.m. A panel discussion on climate change will follow at 2:30 p.m.

Other activities at SeaFest include:

  • Displays by the OSU Sustainability Program on efforts by the university and the Hatfield Marine Science Center to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the state meet its renewable energy goals;
  • Dozens of crafts, games and other programs designed for kids, including a “Passport to the Ocean” activity that gives children a passport to be stamped at different exhibits. Kids earning at least 11 stamps will win a prize;
  • Awards for the SeaFest poster contest winners and a special award presented by Bradbury to Lincoln and Benton County high school students who represented Oregon at the National Student Oceans Summit in Washington, D.C.

SeaFest actually begins on Friday, June 22, with a pair of lectures on climate change. Gail Achterman, director of OSU’s Institute for Natural Resources, will present an introduction to the topic at 7:05 p.m.; Stephen Hammond, acting director for the NOAA Ocean Exploration Program, will follow with a talk called “Exploring the Deep Ocean: New Discoveries and Implications for our Warming Planet.”

The Friday lectures coincide with the 200th anniversary of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The free public lectures will be followed by a reception commemorating the NOAA anniversary.

Media Contact: 

Ken Hall,

Study of Dead Whale May be Inconclusive, Scientists Say

NEWPORT, Ore. – It may not be possible to determine the cause of death of the gray whale that washed ashore south of Newport last weekend, officials say, due to the decomposition of the carcass and limited amounts of organ samples that could be taken.

Partly for that same reason, officials are also cautioning the public to stay away from the whale, avoid touching it and stop taking away body parts.

“We’ve had concerns because some people are touching the whale and even removing parts,” said Jim Rice, coordinator of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network operated at the Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center.

“It’s a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act to remove any portion of a dead whale such as this,” Rice said. “But more than that, it’s a serious health concern. These are wild animals that could expose a person to a variety of bacteria, viruses or diseases. The public should treat them like you would any other wild animal, and stay away from the carcass until it is properly disposed of.”

This animal was a mature, female California gray whale, 41 feet long and about 5-10 years old, initial analysis indicates. Experts say it had already been dead for about three days when it washed ashore south of Newport Sunday morning, and is decomposing fairly rapidly.

“Because the whale may need to be moved to be disposed of, and was already in advanced decomposition, we were not able to obtain all of the organ samples that ordinarily would help us determine a cause of death,” Rice said. “We may or may not be able to make that determination, when all the work is done at the lab.”

Researchers, including six students of veterinary medicine at OSU, were able to take physical measurements; some samples of blubber to check for ingestion of environmental contaminants; gastrointestinal wall and content samples; and samples from a large, swollen, cyst-like structure on the whale’s tail that could reflect an injury or parasite. Studies of some of these samples are already under way at the OSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Examination of the gastrointestinal contents should help rule in or out the presence of domoic acid, a toxin potentially lethal to marine mammals.

Common causes of death for a mature whale include being hit by a ship, starvation, fishery entanglement or disease, Rice said. Researchers sometimes are unable to determine what caused mortality in whale deaths, he said.

The Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network is a collaborative volunteer effort to respond to reports of sick or dead marine mammals – including whales, seals and sea lions – and report data about the strandings to the National Marine Fisheries Service. It is headquartered at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center and coordinated by Rice.

Partners in the network include OSU, Portland State University, the University of Oregon’s Institute for Marine Biology, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon State Police, the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation and others.

Media Contact: 

Jim Rice,

Multimedia Downloads

Gray whale
Researchers and veterinary students from Oregon State University and the Hatfield Marine Science Center worked in May 2007 to take biological samples from a dead California gray whale that washed ashore south of Newport, Ore. Date: May 2007. (photo: contributed)

Beach Safety Videos from Oregon Sea Grant Available Online

CORVALLIS, Ore – People playing on Oregon beaches or swimming in the surf risk injury, or worse, from hazards that many don’t recognize: sneaky rip currents and dangerous rolling logs.

The Oregon Sea Grant program at Oregon State University has developed two short videos on these safety topics and made them available online so anyone can view them. The videos cover the nature of the risks and how to avoid or respond to them.

Beach location footage, animations, and interviews with experts combine to develop the safety messages.

The videos can be found online at http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/video.

The videos would be particularly useful for hotels, motels, campgrounds, parks and other facilities where beach visitors congregate. Both videos are on a single DVD, “Beach Safety Basics,” which is available for $6.95 plus $2 shipping and handling, from Oregon Sea Grant, 322 Kerr Administration Building, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331. Order ORESU-V-07-003. Toll-free ordering: 800-375-9360.


CORVALLIS - A series of coastal workshops this month will introduce Oregon's commercial fishing fleet to new trawl gear designed to help them selectively catch abundant flatfish while avoiding species whose declining numbers have led to groundfish harvest restrictions.

The free workshops, sponsored by the Sea Grant Extension Program at Oregon State University, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon Trawl Commission, will take place November 15-17 in Warrenton, Newport and Charleston.

The new gear was developed by Oregon trawlers and net-makers in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in an effort to reduce accidental bycatch of declining species, such as rockfish and whiting, while still permitting harvest of flatfish such as flounder and sole.

Paul Heikkila, Sea Grant Extension agent in Coos County, calls results of testing the new gear "very encouraging, with dramatically decreased catches of rockfish and whiting with no loss of flatfish."

The Pacific Fishery Management Council will begin requiring use of the selective flatfish trawl in the nearshore fishery on Jan. 1, 2005.

The workshops are designed to help commercial fishermen understand how the trawl is designed, rigged and fished, and how it compares to conventional gear. The program will feature presentations by ODFW personnel on the project, including diagrams, pictures and models. Three fishermen and a net-maker will discuss their experiences with fishing and modifying the trawl.

The workshops are scheduled for:

  • Monday, Nov. 15, 2-5 p.m., Doogers Restaurant, 103 South Highway 101, Warrenton


  • Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2-5 p.m, Englund Marine, 424 S.W. Bay Blvd., Newport


  • Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2-5 p.m., Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (dining room), 63466 Boat Basin Road, Charleston

For more information contact Coos County Sea Grant Extension agent Paul Heikkila, Myrtle Point, at 541-572-5263, or by e-mail to paul.heikkila@oregonstate.edu, or Sea Grant Extension fisheries specialist Stephen Theberge, Astoria, 503-325-8573 or by e-mail to stephen.theberge@oregonstate.edu.

Media Contact: 

Paul Heikkila, 541-572-5263


CORVALLIS - If a major earthquake triggered a deadly tsunami in the Pacific Ocean, what impact would the wave have on millions of residents living along the U.S. Pacific Coast?

We'll know more on Nov. 15.

As part of a live, simulcast grand opening event of a new national earthquake engineering research network, which links 15 large-scale research facilities across the continent, researchers at Oregon State University's Tsunami Wave Basin will unleash a tidal wave on a scale model of a U.S. city on the Pacific Coast.

The program can be viewed via the Internet and Internet2 starting at 10:30 a.m. PST at http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/events/nees/webcast.htm.

The OSU presentation will be one of four remote demonstrations streamed live via the Internet to Washington, D.C., where the National Science Foundation is hosting the grand opening of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation. The NSF created this network to give researchers tools to learn how earthquakes and tsunamis affect the buildings, bridges, utility systems and other critical components of today's society.

More than 75 million Americans in 39 states live in towns and cities at risk for earthquake devastation, and much of the Oregon and Washington coastline is susceptible to impacts from tsunamis.

"We have the world's largest tsunami wave basin here at Oregon State, enabling us to perform experiments that will save lives through safer designs for buildings, bridges and other structures, and through better tsunami warning systems in the event of a tsunami attack," said Dan Cox, director of the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory at OSU. "We are at the cutting edge of earthquake engineering research."

Other research sites around the nation feature such advanced tools as shake tables, centrifuges that simulate earthquake effects, unique laboratories, and field-testing equipment. All the sites are linked together via the high-speed Internet2 network and special software, enabling experiments to run simultaneously at two or more sites.

OSU developed some of the software for the national system, including a web interface that allows participation in tsunami experiments at OSU from remote sites. Not only can engineers across the country observe what's happening in the OSU Tsunami Wave Basin, they can use instant-replay, slow-motion and other advanced technology to enhance the experience.

"In many ways the new technology makes remote participation even better than being there," said OSU computer science professor Cherri Pancake, who led development of the software.

With these tools, engineers and students from all parts of the country can collaborate on multi-site experiments using simulators that generate earthquake effects strong enough to bring down full-sized buildings.

From that knowledge, researchers say, will come a new set of rules that engineers will use to design structures and materials that will better withstand earthquake forces and better tsunami warning systems that help in evacuation planning.

OSU's Tsunami Wave Basin, located in the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory on 35th Street in Corvallis, will be featured for approximately 10 minutes at around 11:30 a.m. PST. More information on the earthquake network research at OSU can be found on the web at http://nees.oregonstate.edu.



Dan Cox, 541-737-3631


ORVALLIS - Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation, will present the John L. Fryer Memorial Lecture on Dec. 10 at Oregon State University, honoring a pioneer of fish disease research who died last August.

Colwell was a close friend of Fryer and his family, and will speak on "The Future of Marine Biotechnology."

Her presentation will be at 4 p.m. at the LaSells Stewart Center on the OSU campus, and is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a reception featuring remarks by family, military and academic colleagues. People wishing to attend the reception, which will include food and beverages, are asked to send an RSVP by Nov. 24 to Jerri Bartholomew at this email address: Jerri.Bartholomew@oregonstate.edu.

Prior to the lecture and reception, a building dedication ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. at the Salmon Disease Laboratory, 34347 N.E. Electric Road in Corvallis. Fryer received his doctorate from OSU in 1964, was on the OSU faculty for more than 40 years and served a long tenure as chair of its Department of Microbiology. He was widely recognized at the university and internationally for his work on the infectious diseases of fish, especially salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

His research helped train generations of students and covered many fields. He isolated viruses that were serious threats to salmon health, developed vaccines, improved salmon aquaculture and characterized important disease-causing organisms.

Media Contact: 

Jerry Bartholomew, 541-737-0496


NEWPORT - The popular OSU Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center has a new exhibit whose short acronym underlines the effect the center thinks it will have on visitors: WOW.

The "World Of Wet" Pets exhibit is the first at the center to highlight ornamental fish, and is also the first major, permanent exhibit in several years.

It's likely to be a crowd-pleaser, with its own room where five large tanks are devoted to a kaleidoscope of ornamental fish species, including opalescent koi from an Oregon koi farmer, fancy goldfish from China, freshwater cichlids from Africa, and the multi-striped clownfish of "Finding Nemo" fame.

With the exhibit, the science center is addressing the interests of the very large number of Americans of all ages. The keeping of ornamental fish has become one of the top two or three hobbies in the United States, said Dr. Tim Miller-Morgan of Oregon State University.

The exhibit is the brainchild of Miller-Morgan, a doctor of veterinary medicine and the Oregon Sea Grant Extension veterinarian specializing in ornamental fish health and husbandry. Oregon Sea Grant manages the Visitor Center.

"The WOW Pets exhibit room is intentionally different from most of the rest of the Visitor Center," said Miller-Morgan. "It's a quiet place, where you can stop to think about what you've seen at the center, or simply enjoy the colorful ornamental fish."

The room also shows its relationship to the educational mission of the center with a display and free brochures that provide basic information about the hobby and the ornamental fish industry.

At a recent grand opening celebration, Robert Malouf, the director of Oregon Sea Grant, invited guests to look below the colorful surface of the exhibit and appreciate how the exhibit was a reflection of a new and broader interest in ornamental fish health and husbandry, not only at the center but at OSU.

Dr. Howard Gelberg, dean of the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, voiced his support of the outreach and teaching being undertaken by Miller-Morgan.

"He's a real pioneer," said Gelberg of Miller-Morgan. "There was nobody to teach him some of the ornamental aquatic animal health information he's now offering our students."

Gelberg shared his own lifelong personal interest in ornamental fish, saying that it had helped spark his fascination with life sciences, and he predicted that veterinarians would play an increasing role in the ornamental fish industry in the future.

George Boehlert, director of the Hatfield Marine Science Center, noted that the World of Wet Pets exhibit is consistent with an emphasis of the center to attract the public to the facility and better acquaint them with the "research enterprise" there.

Miller-Morgan acknowledged several sponsors of the exhibit, including Bill and Judy Saunders, owners of Springbrook Koi Farm; Dr. Paul Jensen, a Lincoln city dentist; Northwest Koi and Goldfish Club of Portland; and Steve Weeks, owner of Pacific Coast Imports. He also acknowledged the support of the Oregon Coast Community College and students in the college's aquarium science program.


Tim Miller-Morgan, (541) 867-0265

Multimedia Downloads

Ornamental fish

A new "World of Wet" Pets exhibit at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center is now open, showcasing the types of ornamental fish that have become one of the most popular hobbies in the nation. OSU is one of the few universities in the country with an educational program in ornamental fish care. (Photo by Eric Rasmussen)