ocean

University of Oregon

We tend to think in terms of fresh water and ocean water ecosystems, but there's a whole lot of life in between. 

Estuaries, where salt and fresh water meet, are teeming with all kinds of creatures, animal and vegetable. 

Dr. David Sutherland at the University of Oregon studies estuaries, both close to home and in the Arctic. 

And he'll deliver a lecture on Friday (December 2) in Coos Bay about how the estuary at Coos Bay functions. 

Washed Ashore

One person's trash is another person's treasure. 

That is proven frequently by Washed Ashore on the Oregon Coast.  The organization takes its name from the plastic and other trash that washes up on the beaches... which artist and Executive Director Angela Haseltine Pozzi turns into art representing sea creatures and scenes. 

It's a fascinating look at the beings that are threatened by human trash in the oceans. 

Algalita

Most of our trash goes out of sight, out of mind in landfills. 

But plenty of the world's refuse ends up in waterways, to end up in the ocean.  And plastics in the ocean can present hazards to sea creatures and the health of creatures up the food chain. 

The organization called Algalita is dedicated to studying plastic trash and its effects at sea. 

Bruce Menge & team

From living being to spackle.  A crude description, perhaps, but it gives you an idea of the horrors of the wasting disease that afflicted sea stars in the Pacific a year ago.

Starfish that appeared otherwise healthy turned to mush over a matter of days.  But this year--so far--is very different, with scientists finding young sea stars to be unusually prolific.  A good sign, or too early to tell? 

Dr. Bruce Menge of Oregon State University is watching the sea star nurseries with great interest. 

Circles In The Sand

Several religious traditions use the labyrinth to focus the mind and represent the spiritual journey. 

Denny Dyke took the labyrinth a step further--and a step further toward the ocean--when he drew his first labyrinth on a beach.  That was several years ago, and he continues the practice to this day. 

This summer's labyrinth will be on the beach at Bandon, Oregon. 

Wikimedia

We talk a lot about drones, or UAVs--Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.  But there are AUVs out there as well--Autonomous Underwater Vehicles. 

And unlike the flying drones, the AUVs do not require pilots guiding them remotely, they are truly autonomous. 

The Seaglider program at the University of Washington sends out AUVs to gather data from the ocean.  Once programmed and launched, they can be gone for weeks at a time, periodically collecting and sending information. 

Marc Shuelper/Wikimedia

The hits just keep on coming to seals and sea lions and their relatives on the West Coast. 

The El Niño effect made feedings tough for pinnipeds, and strandings of malnourished pups kept workers busy all year at the Marine Mammal Center in the Bay Area. 

Then the massive algae bloom in the ocean, with its domoic acid, also hurt marine mammals. 

Gary Halvorson/Oregon State Archives

It is Winter Whale Watching Week on the Oregon Coast once again... a chance to head for the shore to see signs of migrating whales passing by. 

Since we specialize in audio, we'll go beyond the whale WATCHING and move on to whale LISTENING. 

That's the work of a company called Biowaves, that records the sounds of whales and other ocean creatures for a variety of research purposes. 

Atria Books

Maybe it's the eight legs.  The octopus sure can creep some people out, but if you can fight back the feeling, it's truly a fascinating animal. 

That big bag on top contains a truly remarkable and supple brain, capable of a great deal of perception, and maybe the ability to bond with human companions. 

Sy Montgomery wanted to know more about the intelligence of octupi (whoops, it's octupuses, she learned)... she relates her findings in the book The Soul Of An Octupus.

Wikimedia

It seems appropriate sometimes to refer to the ocean as "Davy Jones' Locker." 

Because like a locker or trunk, there's a lot of junk, treasure, and just plain STUFF hidden below the ocean's surface. 

Dr. Jim Delgado has explored it extensively and made some great discoveries. 

Now he's the director of Maritime Heritage for the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA). 

Wikimedia

Dead and dying marine animals are turning up on Pacific beaches, and the California officials are warning people not to eat crab caught south of the Oregon border. 

The blame falls on domoic acid, a product of blooms of algae in the ocean. 

This year's bloom might have been the biggest ever recorded in the Pacific, according to the Wildlife Algal-toxin Research and Response Network for the U.S. West Coast (WARRN-West). 

Wikimedia

Three-quarters of our planet are covered by oceans, so what happens in those oceans can have a profound effect on the rest of the planet. 

We've learned this lesson--often the hard way--in recent years, as the oceans warm with the rest of the Earth, and the acid levels in the water rise. 

It's getting hard for some creatures, like coral, to survive. 

Abel Valdivia is an ocean scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity

Counterpoint Press

The good guys and the bad guys in environmental issues are often determined by which side you favor. 

But the murkiness of good/bad and right/wrong is brought into sharp focus in Summer Brennan's book The Oyster War: The True Story Of A Small Farm, Big Politics, And The Future Of Wilderness In America

It concerns a decades-old oyster farm in California, a federal effort to protect sensitive lands, and the ability of anybody involved in an extractive industry to protect or enhance the environment. 

Hachette Book Group

Many of us could sit by the ocean for hours.  And it's more than just the sound of the rushing waves or the smell of the salt air, because we can bliss out by the side of a river or a lake just as easily. 

Wallace J. Nichols says there's plenty of science to support this, science he shares in Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.

Charleston Marine Life Center

Lots of us head for the ocean in the summer.  But we tend to stay above the waves, and even a few feet from them.

Not so for ocean explorers like the students and teachers of the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology

OIMB began its explorations in 1924 and is going strong today. 

Recent tasks included trips aboard the famous submersible ship Alvin, and the opening of the Charleston Marine Life Center, across the street from OIMB on the Southern Oregon Coast.

Wikimedia

  When you stop to think about it, we know less about the oceans of Earth than the space immediately surrounding the planet.

Because unlike space, we can't see through the ocean or use satellites to explore it. 

That's why the Ocean Observatories Initiative started up... to place sensors off both coasts of the United States, to track a broad array of information. 

A crew from Oregon State University recently placed the final sensor in the Pacific. 

Wikimedia

Recent discussions of the warm-water "Blob" in the Pacific may have obscured previously existing concerns about ocean health.

Like the increasing level of acidity in the ocean, and the more frequent appearance of low-oxygen zones (hypoxia). 

The West Coast Ocean Acidification & Hypoxia Science Panel brings together top minds from the West Coast State and British Columbia to come up with ideas for addressing the ocean issues. 

The panel presents a progress update at a meeting in Sacramento next week (July 29), with several reports due this fall. 

Returning The Favor: "Saved By The Sea"

Apr 8, 2015
New World Library

We'll be celebrating Earth Day in the near future.  Journalist, documentary producer, activist, and scuba diver David Helvarg once observed that our celebrations seemed to stop at land's end, and did not include the oceans. 

He aims to correct the oversight in his book Saved By The Sea

Helvarg recounts his many experiences--plenty bad with the good--in the Earth's oceans in this memoir. 

Answers For Oysters With Shell Trouble

Dec 18, 2014
University of Washington

It's a tough life for a newly hatched oyster.  Shellfish have 48 hours after hatching to form a shell, or they die. 

And current ocean conditions make it harder for the shellfish larvae to make shells. 

Ocean researchers including George Waldbusser at Oregon State just studied the factors. 

The increasing acidity of the oceans is one, but there are others to take into account. 

Fracking Moratorium Requested

Nov 22, 2013

California U.S. Representative Lois Capps has asked for a moratorium on offshore fracking until there's more study. In a letter to the Interior Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week, Capps says she wants the federal government to conduct a study of fracking's impacts to the marine environment.

A recent report by the Associated Press documented at least a dozen instances of hydraulic fracturing in the Santa Barbara Channel, site of a disastrous 1969 oil platform blowout that spurred the modern environmental movement.

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