ocean

People who catch ocean creatures for a living always want to keep their equipment intact, but the ocean can change those plans.  Storms and tides and currents can pull things like crab traps out to sea, where they can snare unintended victims, like whales. 

The state of California is moving toward a program that would send non-fishing boats out to retrieve gear that crabbers lose.  The retrievers would be paid, and the crabbers who owned the retrieved gear would be fined if they didn't pay. 

The state Fish and Wildlife Department is still working on the rules, with public input. 

stokpic/Pixabay

The ocean just looks huge when we see it from the beach.  But all we see is surface, and only a few miles out.  It truly is huge when you head farther out and down into the depths. 

Stanford University Marine Science Professor Stephen Palumbi studies the ocean and its many lifeforms; he visits Coos Bay for the final geology lecture of the season at Southwestern Oregon Community College (May 17th). 

NASA

The people who make acronyms outdid themselves with the naming of the Systematic Underwater Biogeochemical Science and Exploration Analog at NASA.  The letters spell out SUBSEA, which is the kind of exploration in question. 

At NASA?  Yes, because the agency aims to treat the exploration of the deep ocean similar to the approach to exploring deep space. 

Shannon Kobs Nawotniak is one of the staff scientists at SUBSEA, an expert on undersea volcanoes. 

Wikimedia

The importance of the world's oceans cannot be overstated.  So much life depends upon the life cycles of the ocean, even creatures that never get near the water. 

So it should come as no surprise that the annual State of the Coast conference in Coos Bay usually gets more requests for attendance than seats to hold the people. 

Everything from current marine science to ocean policy by governments gets an airing. 

michael clarke stuff, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24330893

Of all the fascinating creatures in the sea, one of the most important has neither fins nor tentacles nor eyeballs, and doesn't even move.  If you guessed seaweed, you guessed well. 

It's not really a weed, but a form of algae.  And it comes in thousands of varieties, many of them packed with nutrients good for many other creatures on the Earth. 

Seaweed harvesting is becoming a bigger business in Maine, and that's where Susan Hand Shetterly takes us in her book Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge

Kim Hansen, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7185913

The ocean is full of energy, but can we capture it for use in creating electricity?  Lots of people think we can, including the people at the Redwood Coast Energy Authority

RCEA recently announced efforts to pursue a floating wind farm, to capture wind energy offshore. 

This is a project the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust has been working toward for several years now. 

U.S. Army Corp of Engineers

Humboldt County can be a wet place, but there's plenty more to come as sea levels continue to rise. 

The Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment, in the works for several years, was completed last month. 

It details the ways and areas in which the North Coast is especially prone to problems from higher sea levels.  Now the next question: how best to act on the information. 

Peter Southwood/Wikimedia

Items that we find on the beach may not look terribly important to the casual observer, but can have critical importance to creatures beneath the surface. 

Case in point: kelp.  It is a major food source for some sea creatures, and kelp forests on the West Coast have been decimated by a series of events.  In California, there's less than 10% of the usual kelp.

As a result, the abalone fishery has been shut down on both sides of the state line. 

Cynthia Catton is a scientist with California Fish and Wildlife.  Scott Groth works for Oregon Fish and Wildlife

Eric Sanford/UC-Davis

The increasing acidity of the oceans creates problems for sea creatures. 

Some of the animals that live in shells have a harder time building their shells in the current conditions. 

And scientists at the University of California-Davis discovered one creature, similar to coral, that just dissolves in certain conditions

Wikimedia

You CAN own the beach in California, unlike in Oregon. 

But an array of groups and government agencies exist to make sure that members of the public get maximum beach access, and minimum abuse to the coastline. 

The California State Coastal Conservancy is a part of that array.    The conservancy is unusual for its lack of regulatory powers. 

Jon Sullivan

It's becoming a regular part of the Dungeness crab season on the West Coast: waiting for domoic acid levels to drop into safe ranges. 

When they're up, the crab fishery is closed to protect human health.  It's open now, after a delay.

Oregon State researcher Morgaine McKibben looked into the ocean conditions that appear to contribute to the rise in domoic acid, which is a neurotoxin. 

The work McKibben and five other researchers produced is published in a scientific journal

Where The River Meets The Ocean

Nov 25, 2016
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. 

Coast Artist Uses Trash To Teach

Oct 12, 2016
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. 

People Who Track Ocean Plastic: Algalita

Oct 12, 2016
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. 

Sea Stars Rebound In The Ocean

May 30, 2016
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. 

To The Ocean Via Labyrinth

May 30, 2016
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. 

Data Drones Of The Deep

Mar 2, 2016
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. 

Seals Suffer Tough Ocean Conditions

Jan 28, 2016
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. 

The SOUNDS Of Whale Watching Week

Dec 28, 2015
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. 

What That Octupus Is Thinking

Dec 7, 2015
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.

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