The Beacon

Exploring Oregon's Rocky Reefs

A whimsical-looking basket star off the Oregon coast. © Oceana

This is part of a series of posts about our Pacific Hotspots expedition. Today's highlights: rockfish, basket stars and hydroids.

Oregon Leg, Day 1

Last night our six Oceana crew slept aboard the R/V Miss Linda, tied to the dock at the Charleston Marina. The captain and his two crew members arrived at dawn, started up the engines and walked our tired souls through an important safety briefing. The Miss Linda is a 76-foot research charter vessel that formerly worked these Pacific Ocean waters as a commercial fishing boat. The captain is experienced, confident and will certainly lead us safely through our five-day expedition.

Our objective today was to get situated working aboard the Miss Linda with our Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) while exploring a large area of rocky reef just south of Cape Arago. Over the next four days we will use the ROV to capture high definition video footage of some of the most remote and rugged areas off the southern Oregon coast. 

By our third dive this afternoon, five miles offshore and over 150 feet down, the Miss Linda crew and Oceana crew were in sync. With each drop of the ROV we saw schools of rockfish hovering over a rich tapestry of seafloor life.

On our last dive, we had the ROV in perfect position to watch large schools of rockfish rise with the current over rocks and boulders covered with hydroids, basket stars (pictured above), sun anemones, corals and sponges. We watched a lingcod guard its domain, chasing off another passing lingcod with a powerful bite, and a scallop that swam across the screen like Pac-Man.

Everything worked well today; tonight we are running south to the Orford Reef with another day of exploration and habitat research ahead.


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