- About Us
- Statewide Resources
- Get Involved
- Find Us
Oregon Sea Grant: Coastal science serving Oregon
Updated: 3 hours 8 min ago
The shells of oysters – a commercially important shellfish whose reproduction and growth is threatened by climate-linked ocean acidification – may help counteract the effects of increased local acidity levels, according to a new study of New England’s Chesapeake Bay by a team of researchers led by Oregon State University’s George Waldbusser.
The study, published in the journal Ecology and reported this week in the New York Times , concludes that the buildup of old shells in undisturbed oyster beds – along with the oysters’ waste – can help restore alkalinity to waters that might otherwise be too acid for the shellfish to survive.
Like ocean waters around the world, the Chesapeake has become more and more acidic as a result of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Now, by studying oyster populations in relation to acidity levels,Waldbusser’s team has concluded that oysters — particularly their shells — can play a significant role in reducing that acidity.
“Oyster shells are made out of calcium carbonate, so they’re sort of like an antacid pill,” said Waldbusser, an assistant professor of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences at OSU and an author of the study. “In an undisturbed oyster reef, healthy oysters are generating a lot of biodeposits,” a genteel term for excrement, “which helps generate CO2 to help break down those shells, which helps to regenerate the alkalinity back into the environment.”
Ocean acidification is of great concern to commercial oyster growers. Previous research by Waldbusser and colleague Burke Hales, conducted at an Oregon oyster hatchery, has shown that increasing acidity near commercial shellfish operations inhibits the larval oysters from developing shells and growing at a pace that makes oyster farming economically viable.
Waldbusser is also working on a Sea Grant-funded project to develop Web-based tools that would allow oyster growers and resource managers to better understand how acidification affects larval oysters so they can more effectively adapt, mitigate and adjust their operations to increase oyster survival and growth.
Developed last year in collaboration with the Oregon Invasive Species Council, the free application not only educates users about how potentially invasive, forest-damaging species can hitch rides on firewood brought to campsites from outside areas, but also includes links to local firewood vendors on the Oregon coast and in Washington, Idaho and northern California. The app also features tips about the burning characteristics of different kinds of wood, building campfires, camping checklists and other information.
This week, the council announced that the application has migrated to DontMoveFirewood.org for national use and distribution. The state of California and the Bureau of Land Management will soon begin downloading lists of firewood vendors to the application, and plans are to continue expanding the database to cover all regions of the US.
The new national application is expected to be added to the iPhone and Android app stores in time for Memorial Day weekend. The original version covering Oregon, Washington and northern California, meanwhile, remains available (see links below) for free download.
Sam Chan, Oregon Sea Grant’s invasive species specialist, called the expansion timely. “The Memorial Day weekend is typically the start of a busy camping season,” Chan said. “One of the most important things we can do to protect our forests and landscapes from damage caused by invasive pests and diseases that hitchhike on firewood is to not move firewood to new areas.
“It’s really that simple: Don’t move firewood. Buy it local, and burn it local.”
The mobile application resulted from a 2009-11 research and education campaign Sea Grant undertook with invasive species councils in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. A joint “buy it where you burn it” education campaign ensued to encourage people not to buy or gather firewood near their campouts, picnics and other outdoor activities rather than bringing it along from elsewhere. Surveys before and after the campaign showed that, while nearly 40% of campers surveyed said they regularly brought firewood with them from outside the area, two-thirds of those who’d seen the educational material said they would change their behavior, including buying firewood locally. The research and education project was funded by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the application is being incorporated into a growing set of resources and tools by the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, a public-private partnership covering Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.Download the original Firewood Buddy
An Oregon Sea Grant publication, Mental Models Interviewing for More-Effective Communication, has won a Gold Award in the “Publications/Handbook” category of the 2013 Hermes Creative Awards.
Hermes Creative Awards is an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing, and design of traditional and emerging media. Administered by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals (www.amcpros.com), the Hermes Creative Awards were created to recognize outstanding work in the industry. Judges are industry professionals who look for companies and individuals whose talent exceeds a high standard of excellence and whose work serves as a benchmark for the industry.
There were about 5,600 entries from the U.S. and throughout the world in this year’s competition, with about 19 percent of entries receiving Gold Awards.
Written by Joe Cone and Kirsten Winters, Mental Models Interviewing is intended to help professionals such as agency officials, university outreach/extension specialists, and social science researchers interview more effectively by answering the questions “What am I listening for?” and “How am I listening?” It’s one of several publications in Oregon Sea Grant Communications’ “Public Science Communication Research & Practice” series. You can find it online here.
SALEM – The Oregon Senate voted Monday to require that companies experimenting with wave energy in Oregon’s territorial waters show they have enough money to recover their equipment when they’re done with it.
The bill’s sponsors say they don’t want the state to be stuck for the cost of removing such gear if it breaks loose, sinks or outlasts its useful life.
The Department of Energy-funded Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC), based at Oregon State University, is operating a testing facility for commercial wave energy devices off the coast of Newport, an area also slated to be home to the nation’s first utility-scale, grid-connected wave energy test site, the Pacific Marine Energy Center.
BEND – Oregon Sea Grant’s invasive species specialist, Sam Chan, is the featured speaker for the OSU Cascades Science Pub event on Tuesday, May 21 at McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend. The informal event runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m and features a full pub menu and no-host bar.
Chan, a Sea Grant Extension specialist and biologist with the OSU Institute for Water and Watersheds, will talk about how invasive species arrive in Oregon via land, air and sea, and can cause serious harm to our economy and environment. Learn how these invaders arrive in ways we would never anticipate – through innocent classroom projects, gardening, and on floating tsunami debris – and what you can do to prevent and minimize their impact. Chan’s research guided the creation of the award-winning statewide “Silent Invasion” program.
Use this online form to reserve a seat for Hitchhikers from Afar: Aquatic Invasive Species & You. Science Pubs are free but due to their popularity, reservations are required no later than 5:00 p.m. the day prior to each lecture.
EUGENE - The Fern Ridge Reservoir just west of Eugene, Ore., is a popular recreation spot for boaters and swimmers during the spring and summer months. The marina attracts freshwater sailors and provides ample fishing opportunities for anglers. There’s only one problem: An invasive species is steadily taking over the lake, and the worse it gets, the less welcoming the lake becomes.
The invader, known as Eurasian watermilfoil, is an aquatic plant that forms tangled mats as it grows. Eurasian watermilfoil tends to show up in shallow waters where it can access sunlight. These thick tangles are obstructive enough to stop boat motors from working, and they can prevent kayakers from maneuvering through the water.
Not only is the milfoil an obstacle, but it also saps oxygen from the water and can cause fish to suffocate. As the fish decay at the bottom of the lake, the smell can get pretty strong.
For boaters like Scott Coleman, the owner of Underway LLC and manager for the Orchard Point Marina, it’s a worrying problem. “Specifically in this marina, if this plant really got going and clogged up the marina, then you wouldn’t be able to get your boat through here,” Coleman says. “And, it would be no fun to swim in.”
Last year, Coleman and a band of concerned marina users decided to take action. After consulting with Tania Siemens, WISE Program coordinator, and Sam Chan, invasive species specialist at Oregon Sea Grant, the boaters created a management plan that could correct their core problem: standing water.
(Photo by Roger Bailey)
LINCOLN City – More than 100 junior high, high school and college students will converge on the Lincoln Community Center this Saturday (May 4) to compete in the Oregon Regional Marine Advanced Technology ROV Competition – and a chance to advance to the international finals.
Teams from Albany, Astoria, Corbett, Corvallis, The Dalles, Eddyville, Lincoln City, Salem, Toledo, Portland and Waldport are expected for the competition which runs from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m. at the community center, 2150 NE Oar Place. The event is open to the public.
Competing teams, ranging from 6th grade to college age, have designed and built tethered underwater robots known as remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs. The annual competition is sponsored by Oregon Sea Grant, the OregonCoast STEM Center, and the Oregon Chapter of the Marine Technology Society, and is intended to encourage Oregon students to learn and apply science, technology, engineering and math skills.
Full-scale ROVs are widely used in scientific research, ocean exploration, homeland security, the offshore oil and gas industry, and other industries. This year’s contest highlights the role ROVs play in the installation, operation, and maintenance of ocean observing systems, collections of high-tech instruments above and below the waves that provide around-the-clock information about what is happening in the ocean. Via fiber optic cable, the data collection equipment continuously communicates information to scientists, engineers and technicians who use it to understand and make predictions about the ocean, coast, and ocean resources. Ocean Observing Systems provide critical information on climate change, toxic algal blooms, tsunamis and other ocean hazards.
Competing teams must pilot their ROVs to perform a variety of underwater mission tasks, from installing a simulated power and communications “hub” and scientific instruments in order to complete a seafloor ocean observatory to removing bio-fouling organisms from instruments and performing maintenance on moorings.
The winning team will advance to the 12th annual MATE International ROV Competition, June 20-22 in Federal Way, Wash.
The regional MATE program, one of 22 such competitions around the world, is supported by local sponsors including the Marine Technology Society, the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Center, OSU’s Pre-College Programs, Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators, the Siletz Tribe Charitable Funds, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Pro-Build, Advanced Research Corporation, and the NOAA Officers Family Association. Local marine technology professionals volunteer as judges for the competition, evaluating the students’ ROVs, poster displays, and engineering presentations.