Blog Tags: Oregon
Great news from our Pacific expedition team! On September 3 the local Portland station KGW featured the expedition on the evening news.
This August, Oceana set sail to document deep sea corals and sponges off the rugged Oregon Coast using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) outfitted with high-definition underwater cameras. The areas they explored are places that we proposed be protected from bottom trawling, which destroys important habitat on the sea floor.
August 27, 2013
Today was the final day of our Pacific research expedition off the Oregon coast. We left Newport before daybreak bound for Stonewall Bank, more than 15 miles west. The seas calmed overnight and we had perfect conditions for conducting our research dives.
August 26, 2013
We didn’t know what we might find in the Heceta Bank region off the central Oregon coast. It is one of the largest reef complexes off the Pacific Northwest coast, once nominated to be a National Marine Sanctuary because of its ecological significance. There have been a few research dives in the area, but nobody has done underwater surveys in the area we were going to today.
August 25, 2013
Daisy to North Heceta Bank
Today we completed two dives on the north/northwest slope of Daisy Bank. Seven hundred feet below the surface we saw small red gorgonian corals attached to large boulders, glass sponge, barrel sponge, rockfish and box crab. At one point a large ray flew right under our ROV.
August 24, 2013
We faced some new challenges today and took some new risks. We made our deepest dive yet with the ROV to 1,170 feet. We also did our first night dive.
After sunset we dove the ROV to 600 feet at Daisy Bank. The area is currently protected from bottom trawling as an “essential fish habitat conservation area” as a result of Oceana’s 2005 proposal to the Pacific Fishery Management Council. We are now proposing expanding the area to include additional sensitive habitat features adjacent to the current site.
August 23, 2013
We spent the night last night drifting aboard the Miss Linda, forty miles offshore. The seas stayed calm and we were rocked to sleep by a gentle ocean swell. This morning we dove on an area we’ve named the “Siletz Hotspot”. Far west of the Siletz River estuary, this area appears to be a relative hotspot for coral and sponge bycatch observed in the West Coast groundfish bottom trawl fishery. We did not know what we would find, a heavily trawled seafloor or islands of undisturbed paradise.
August 21, 2013
Siletz Reef/ Cascade Head
Today we departed Newport at 5 a.m. bound for the Siletz Reef off Lincoln City, Oregon. Large ocean swells rocked us in our bunks as Captain Bob Pedro steered the Miss Linda to our first dive site. We’ve been planning this expedition for many months and the excitement and anticipation was all leading to this. None of us were sure exactly what our ROV would reveal below the surface of the ocean, and we were eager to find out.
August 22, 2013
South Nehalem Reef
We awoke this morning to calm seas and a beautiful sunrise coming up over Oregon’s Cape Lookout. Knowing it would be the last land we’d see for the next six days, we motored offshore for three hours and arrived at South Nehalem Reef; over 20 miles off the coast. Getting the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) set up, our deployment and retrieval operations had already become second nature. Attracted by the only vessel in sight, hundreds of seabirds flocked our boat. They are likely accustomed to getting a fisherman’s scraps or bycatch tossed overboard. We were joined by albatross, sooty shearwaters, storm petrels, several species of gulls, and our favorites: tufted puffins. But the only thing we were sending over the side of the Miss Linda was our ROV.
Anticipation and excitement is building as Oceana’s U.S. West Coast staff prepares for seven days at sea exploring and filming largely undocumented coral and sponge colonies off the coast of Oregon!
We will be deploying a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) along offshore banks and canyons containing rocky reefs and soft substrates at depths up to 1,300 feet. Some of these areas, including North Heceta Bank and Siletz Hotspot have not previously been explored with an ROV. During the expedition we hope to capture footage of glass sponges, gorgonian corals, black corals, sea whips, and more.
We can breathe a momentary sigh of relief. This Monday, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted unanimously to maintain protections off California and Oregon for the critically endangered population of Pacific leatherback sea turtles. However, in 2014 these federal fishery managers will consider another proposal for allowing driftnets into sea turtle habitat southwest of Monterey, California.
At the meeting a few days ago in Tacoma, Washington, the Council considered a full array of proposals to expand the use of drift gillnets off California and Oregon and into an area currently designated to protect Pacific leatherback sea turtles. But Oceana—with the help of our partners, and support of our avid Wavemakers—successfully thwarted those efforts by presenting new science on the decline of leatherback sea turtles; by revealing scientific data showing massive wasteful bycatch of large whales, dolphins, sharks, and other fish by the drift gillnet fishery; and by bringing forward the public uproar over the proposed expansion of the driftnet fishery into a currently protected area.
Mile-long drift nets hang like invisible curtains in the water column to catch swordfish, but they unselectively entangle other marine life traversing through the open ocean. To numerically paint the portrait of this wasteful fishery, for every five swordfish caught in 2011, one marine mammal was killed and six fish were tossed back dead. When it comes to whales, this fishery takes many species, but one of particular concern is the sperm whale. The largest of the toothed whales, sperm whales have the largest brain of any animal and it is estimated that 16 of these amazing endangered whales were taken in the drift gillnet fishery in 2010 alone.
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