Friday, June 1, 2012

Week 9 - Marine Conservation Science and Policy

This week we learned about marine conservation science and policy. We started off the week with a holiday due to Memorial Day, but Tuesday we picked right up in class. In three short days we learned a great deal about marine conservation science and policy while preparing for a presentation, writing an editorial and some of us continuing to work on our research projects. Needless to say this week flew by and we are very close to the end of the term!

On Tuesday we learned about marine protected areas and marine reserves, especially the current plans under implementation, observation and discussion on the Pacific Coast. We had a guest lecture from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) about the current marine reserve program in Oregon. We learned about not only the ecological factors of the process, but also the socio-economic considerations that have to be made when creating these areas.

On Wednesday we had a field trip all day at Cape Perpetua and Ten-mile Creek. It was a great day for a
field trip and we enjoyed the sunshine while learning about the conservation and restoration efforts of the Central Oregon Coast. Things are a long way from full recovery, but some serious progress is underway with reclaiming land, working with private property owners, government agencies, and conservationist groups to restore the coast and tributaries for birds and fish.
We had a lecture at the top of Cape Perpetua about the "current state of things", while enjoying the sun and a stunning view.

After a short walk in the woods we stopped at a little view point to take pictures and look at a marine protected location. 

From the viewpoint we spotted a sea lion swimming near the cape. :)

After spending some time on top of Cape Perpetua, we drive to Ten-mile Creek Restoration Area to view a survey site monitored by ODFW.

This site monitors movement of juvenile fish in  Ten-mile Creek, and helps ODFW assess the population size  of each year class of salmon species. We also caught a lamprey and scuplin. :) We also learned a bit about invasive plant species that have begun to take over the creek shores, such as Japanese Knotweed.
From here we drove up the creek to learn about the plant restoration and creation of fish habitat that is happening on Ten-mile Creek.

Part of the restoration strategy is to put more wood into the stream to create more gravel bars and slower moving water, so little fish, like the one above, can easily maneuver the stream. Another part of the project is to slowly phase out timber industry trees and phase in trees that naturally belong on the stream banks so that the forest naturally returns to its original state without more drastic disturbances.
We also learned about coastal bird surveys and monitoring programs that exist on the Oregon coast and that they involve students and the general public to help with their projects.

On our last day of lecture (can you believe it?) we learned about by-catch and sustainable fishing practice. Thursday's poster child of sustainability was Oregon's pink shrimp fishery, which uses special nets to avoid by-catch. On our field trip to the docks, Frosty, a local fisherman, told us that their shrimp nets just "tickle the bottom," so they minimally disturb the ocean floor, which was new information for both us and our guide. 
Listening attentively to Laura Anderson

Laura Anderson, the owner of Local Ocean and OSU alumnus, spoke about her experiences with Newport fishermen and what to look for when shopping for seafood, as well as the benefits of flash freezing fish. She pointed out the differences between the equipment on boats that are fishing for different species, and explained the purpose of the cotton twine on crab pots. 

As interesting as the talk was, many of us were distracted by the ctenophores and cnidarians surrounding the docks, as well as a multitude of mystifying creatures that, after closer examination involving some poking and prodding, we discovered were crab larvae!


After a long week we had to unwind with fondue and a trip to the local art show, so that we can get pumped to write our research papers this weekend and next week!

Until next time-
Alice "A-Train" Chatham and Katlyn "Fondue Fanatic" Taylor

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