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Oregon Sea Grant: Coastal science serving Oregon
Updated: 7 hours 57 min ago

Video: Searching for microplastics in razor clams and oysters

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 9:41am

Britta Baechler (right) looks at harvested razor clams.

Sept. 13, 2017

A new video from Oregon Sea Grant shows how researchers at Portland State University are inspecting the guts and tissues of razor clams and oysters along the Oregon coast for microplastics, which can come from foams, tiny beads in facial creams, synthetic fibers from clothing, and disintegrating plastic bags.

An oyster is shucked at a lab at Portland State University.

“Our goal is to figure out if we have them in our oysters and clams, and if so, are they at problematic levels?” said Britta Baechler, a PSU master’s student who is working on the Oregon Sea Grant-funded project under the guidance of PSU marine ecologist Elise Granek.

Oysters and clams, Baechler explained in the four-minute video, are indiscriminate filter feeders and so they may ingest a piece of plastic and not be able to get rid of it. Microplastics, which are defined as less than 5 mm, are of concern because they can attract chemicals, which might harm animals if eaten.

Britta Baechler shows a dissolved razor clam in a Petri dish.

With help from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Baechler dug up razor clams at nine sites along the Oregon coast and bought oysters at five locations to see if there are areas where microplastics are more prevalent. She collected the shellfish in the spring of 2017 and again this summer to see if microplastics are more common during certain times of the year.

Once the oysters and clams were gathered, they were taken to Granek’s lab at PSU where they were measured, weighed, shucked and frozen so they could later be dissolved in potassium hydroxide. This process leaves a clear liquid that contains only sand and any plastics that may be present. The researchers hope to have dissolved all of the bivalves by the end of September. For the ones that have already been dissolved, they’ve been analyzing the liquefied remains under a microscope to see if they find microplastics, but results are not in yet.

“Ultimately, we’re hoping that this study brings awareness to Oregonians and even visitors to the state of Oregon that plastics that we use in our daily lives make their way into the environment,” Baechler said in the video. “We’re also hoping that our partners, like Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and other state agencies, might take this information to learn about hot spots for microplastics to address the problem.”

Photos of Baechler and her work can be downloaded from this album on Oregon Sea Grant’s Flickr page.

The video was produced by Tiffany Woods and filmed and edited by Gustavo Garcia.

The post Video: Searching for microplastics in razor clams and oysters appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Video: Studying the relationship between seagrass, nutrients, algae and herbivores

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 2:44pm

Aug. 29, 2017

A new video from Oregon Sea Grant shows how researchers are studying how nutrients from agricultural runoff and oceanic upwelling impact the growth of light-blocking algae on eelgrass in bays along the Oregon coast.

With funding from Oregon Sea Grant, they’re also studying how tiny herbivores, such as sea slugs and centipede-like isopods, might prevent eelgrass from being snuffed out by this algae. Additionally, they’re investigating whether these herbivores prefer to eat the native or invasive eelgrass in the bays.

In the six-minute video, Fiona Tomas Nash, a marine ecologist in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University, explains that eelgrass is important because it produces oxygen, reduces the impacts of waves, and provides habitat and food for waterfowl, baby fish and crabs.

“Nutrient pollution is one of the main causes of seagrass loss worldwide,” Tomas Nash said in the video. “And so we’re trying to understand if this is a problem in Oregon.”

She said the results of her research may benefit state and federal agencies that deal with food production, fisheries and water quality.

The research is taking place in four estuaries – Coos Bay, Yaquina, Netarts and Tillamook – to quantify how much seagrass there is and determine what aquatic grazers are present, Tomas Nash said.

“We’re doing experiments, both in the field and in the lab,” she said in the video, “where we add nutrients, and we also manipulate the presence or absence of these animals to see how these combinations of more nutrients and different animals can affect the amount of algae that there is and, therefore, the seagrass health.”

Partners in the project include the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Environmental Protection Agency and the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. 

The video was produced by Tiffany Woods and filmed and edited by Gustavo Garcia.

Photos of Tomas Nash and her work can be downloaded from this album on Oregon Sea Grant’s Flickr page.

More information about the research is on Oregon Sea Grant’s website.

 

The post Video: Studying the relationship between seagrass, nutrients, algae and herbivores appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Video: Summer internships prepare undergrads for marine science careers

Thu, 08/24/2017 - 5:01pm

This new video shows how Oregon Sea Grant’s Summer Scholars program helps prepare high-caliber junior and senior undergraduates from around the U.S. for careers in the marine sciences or the management of coastal resources. The program places students with Oregon-based federal and state agencies and nongovernmental organizations for paid, 10-week internships.

Students are assigned to a specific project under a mentor. They may assist their mentors with field work, lab work, analysis, research, policy development or public engagement efforts.

The video, produced by Oregon Sea Grant (OSG), also highlights some of this summer’s activities and includes interviews with students and mentors.

Ten students from seven different states participated in this year’s program, interning with agencies such as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), the USDA, the OSU Extension Tourism Program, the EPA and the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. Students worked on topics ranging from monitoring recovering sea star populations to spreading awareness about marine reserves to testing unmanned aircraft systems’ viability in shellfish surveys.

Students also participated in a professional-development workshop on science communication and outreach and engagement. The workshop was followed by a hiking and camping trip, allowing students both to explore more of Oregon’s scenic beauty and spend some quality time with their cohort.

The program culminated with a symposium that was open to the public. Friends, family, mentors and coworkers came to watch the scholars present on their summer’s work.

“The skills I’ve gained this summer as a scholar seem a little difficult to quantify because it feels like there’s a lot,” student Catie Michel said in the video. “But I’ve especially appreciated learning about successful collaboration with people and effective communication, especially in terms of science and research.”

In addition to aligning with OSG’s vision, mission and values, the goals of the Summer Scholars program are to

  • prepare students for graduate school and/or careers in marine science, policy, management, and outreach through funding support and hands-on experience;
  • support host organization program initiatives and facilitate scholars’ understanding of their work’s importance in accomplishing the broader host organization goals; and
  • promote integration of diverse perspectives into problem solving for coastal Oregon to provide richer and more inclusive solutions.

The program also strives to encourage student success during and after their internships through cultivating an inclusive environment, creating a broad professional network in the marine field, offering professional development opportunities with an emphasis on science communication, and fostering a supportive mentor/mentee relationship.

“What I enjoy about mentoring a Sea Grant scholar is watching the students enjoy the learning experience,” Tommy Swearingen, a researcher with the ODFW, said in the video. “As an agency scientist, it is a huge benefit to our program to have the contribution that students make.”

Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars Program was filmed and edited by Haley Epperly.

More information about the Summer Scholars program can be found here.

The post Video: Summer internships prepare undergrads for marine science careers appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs