The Oregon Coast Aquarium strives to promote marine conservation and stewardship at every turn, particularly through its interpretative and educational programs. What better way, then, to foster the next generation of oceanographers than by offering a scholarship supporting youth who volunteer at the Aquarium? This year’s Ocean Steward Celebration—the Aquarium’s annual fundraiser in Portland on May 12, 2016—marks the inaugural presentation of the Schlesinger-Thrasher Ocean Steward Scholarship.
The $2000 scholarship is the brainchild of Ken Thrasher and Barry Schlesinger, dedicated Aquarium board members impressed and inspired by the Aquarium’s educational programs. “They saw an opportunity to link the Aquarium’s efforts with the broader educational community,” said Caryl Zenker, the Aquarium’s Vice President of Development, who organizes the event.
“The Aquarium’s amazing volunteers and staff support the inquisitive minds of young people, and spur their interests in the sciences,” said Ken Thrasher. “The Schlesinger-Thrasher scholarship will help enable a student to take their interests in marine science to a higher level in college, and hopefully to a career in the science field.” The scholarship is tailored toward local students pursuing a college degree, particularly those involved with the Aquarium’s volunteer programs. Potential honorees are asked to describe how volunteering for the Aquarium impacted them personally, and how the experience will help further their goals. Continue reading
It is with great sadness that we report of the death of Thunder, the rescued olive ridley sea turtle found comatose and cold stunned on a beach in Oregon in December. She was discovered in her rehabilitation pool Tuesday morning (April 12) by park aquarists. Thunder was one of two turtles flown to SeaWorld on March 30 from the Oregon Coast Aquarium where she was initially cared for following her rescue.
Initial necropsy results indicated degenerative issues with various internal organs including the liver and heart, and there were signs that the animal was no longer digesting food. While the official necropsy report will take weeks to finalize, it is possible that organ failure is a potential contributing factor in her death.
“This news saddens us but we remain hopeful for Lightning’s release back into the wild this summer,” said Jim Burke, the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s Director of Animal Husbandry. “We hope to learn from this loss but accept that the odds of saving stranded animals are low. Our team will continue efforts to save injured threatened and endangered species for the chance of boosting their low populations.”
Lightning, the other olive ridley sea turtle rescued on the Oregon coast and transported to SeaWorld with Thunder, remains in stable condition and is continuing her recovery at the park’s Animal Rescue Center. “The passing of any animal is sad for our SeaWorld zoological team,” said Mike Price, SeaWorld San Diego’s assistant curator of fishes. “While the rehabilitation of cold-stunned sea turtles is a long and difficult process fraught with complications, we were hopeful that Thunder could have a had a second chance at life. We continue to provide rehabilitative care to Lightning.”
Information provided by Oregon Coast Aquarium
Oregon beaches are ready for summer vacation and tourism with the support of more than 4,800 volunteers who removed nearly 90,000 pounds of litter and marine debris from the Oregon coast today. SOLVE, an Oregon-based nonprofit aimed at keeping our state clean and healthy, organized the Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup, presented by AAA Oregon, designed to remove trash from Oregon’s 363-mile coastline.
The beach cleanups are a bi-annual tradition dating back to 1984. In the last 32 years nearly 250,000 SOLVE volunteers have removed an estimated 3.3 million pounds of trash.
“Marine debris is one of the biggest issues facing our oceans and beaches,” said Maureen Fisher, CEO of SOLVE. “From a single bottle cap to discarded fishing gear, every piece of trash picked up today has a tremendous impact on the health of Oregon’s wildlife and coastal communities.”
“The combined effort of our partners, beach captains, and the thousands of volunteers who came out today is truly inspiring,” added Fisher.
Due to a strong winter storm season, the majority of the debris removed today had washed in from the ocean and onto Oregon beaches. Items ranged from large fishing rope, dozens of crates and buoys to glass and plastic bottles from Japan.
Other common items found during the event were tiny bits of plastic, cigarette butts, and bottle caps, harmful to both marine life and shorebirds. Unique items found by volunteers included wire fencing on Bayocean Spit, a note in a glass bottle in Port Orford, an aluminum boat at the Oregon Dunes, and half of a kayak at the Siltcoos Outlet in Florence.
There were also many inspiring stories from across the coast.
- Along the remote Bayocean Spit beaches near Cape Meares, a group of dedicated volunteers put on their hiking shoes and removed over 25 bags of debris that had washed in from the ocean.
- At the Sand Lake Recreation Area, the Sand Lake Duners and U.S. Forest Service led a group of 79 volunteers to remove nearly 2,000 pounds of trash. To celebrate the cleanup effort, volunteers were treated to a potluck, raffle, and Easter egg hunt!
- Volunteers set out to clean the beach with the Cascade Packgoat Club at Beverly Beach. The goats, packed down with discarded ropes and buoys, have been helping SOLVE clean the beach for over a decade!
- Trash wasn’t the only thing that was found on the beach. A few lucky volunteers found custom glass floats donated by local artisans along the central and south coast.
Event Presenting Sponsor, AAA Oregon, hosted a volunteer photo contest and joined four of the cleanup sites with over 50 employees.
The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) announced this week that the Oregon Coast Aquarium was once again granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission. “The Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredits only those zoos and aquariums that meet the highest standards,” said AZA Interim President and CEO Kris Vehrs. “By achieving AZA-accreditation, Oregon Coast Aquarium demonstrates that it is dedicated to protecting species and educating its visitors about the natural world.”
The Aquarium been accredited by AZA since 2000, but the certification must be renewed every five years. To renew its accreditation, the Aquarium underwent a rigorous investigation to ensure it continues to meet ever-rising standards in animal and veterinary care, conservation, education, and safety. “We seek this oversight of our operation to ensure we offer the best possible experiences for our animals, guests and staff,” said Carrie Lewis, President/CEO of the Aquarium. Continue reading
Swap the Harbor Seal with an Ice Treat – Photo courtesy of Oregon Coast Aquarium
From the Columbia River to the California border, the Oregon coast is an unbeatable destination for spring break. Every March thousands flock to the state’s breathtaking shores to soak in the sights. One of the must stops, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, boasts over 15,000 reasons for coastal travelers to plan their visit right now, including the largest raft of sea otters in Oregon, playful pelicans and aquatic castaways from Japan’s shores.
To accommodate the crowd of coastal visitors, the Aquarium will stay open an extra hour, until 6:00 p.m., now through Sunday the 27th. Spring break visitors are invited to dive into the world of animal play on Enrichment Day at the Aquarium today. The Aquarium staff has plenty of experience with keeping critters busy through enrichment activities. Staff at the Aquarium offer specialized items and experiences that provide variation to the animals’ routines and mimic challenges they would face in the wild without the risk of going hungry or facing predators. Continue reading
Thunder and Lightning, two distressed sea turtles that were rescued after winter storms in Oregon have been successfully treated by the Oregon Coast Aquarium. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) worked with the U.S. Coast Guard to fly them back to warmer waters. The U.S. Coast Guard will airlift these vulnerable animals to southern California during a training mission. The endangered olive ridley sea turtles were found comatose, hypothermic and malnourished following two large storms that hit the Oregon coast in December.
“We at the Oregon Coast Aquarium are very proud to immediately provide expert critical care to these animals. The early triage and urgent care is so paramount to the stabilization of these imperiled species,” said Jim Burke, the Aquarium’s Director of Animal Husbandry. “We are hopeful for a safe release back into the wild where these two female turtles can reproduce and contribute to the rebound of the olive ridley sea turtle population.”
After Thunder and Lightning leave Newport, they will complete their rehabilitation at SeaWorld San Diego in preparation for release later this summer. “We’re very excited that SeaWorld will continue the rehabilitative care of Thunder and Lightning,” said Mike Price, SeaWorld San Diego’s assistant curator of fish. “It also great to work with a dedicated team from the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Coast Aquarium and our friends at the Coast Guard as together we give these amazing sea turtles a second chance at life.” Continue reading
The Oregon Coast Aquarium is offering teens a chance to tread in the footsteps of famous wildlife ambassadors this summer. Just like Jack Hanna, Jeff Corwin or the late, great Steve Irwin, these teenagers will embark on a journey of discovery, for themselves and some of the 400,000 people that visit the Aquarium each year. The Aquarium is currently recruiting future youth volunteers for a six-weekend crash course on the coastal and marine sciences of Oregon. Youth will go on to share what they learned with the Aquarium’s visitors.
The experience is not all work and no play. Youth volunteers also enjoy outdoor adventures, like whale watching expeditions, and practice key marine science skills like putting on survival suits. The program draws high school age students from as far away as Portland. “I think the summer-time social network this provides the kids keeps them coming back every year,” said Teresa Mealy, Youth Programs Coordinator for the Aquarium.
Many youth volunteers continue their service throughout the school year. They team up with Aquarium staff to develop their own ocean advocacy projects to teach their peers and Aquarium visitors about marine conservation. The Aquarium’s youth volunteers may not become the next Jacques Cousteau or Sylvia Earle, but they will carry environmental awareness and stewardship they develop for the rest of their lives.
To complete an application to join the Aquarium’s volunteer teams, visit aquarium.org or contact the Aquarium’s Volunteer Services department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information and photos by Oregon Coast Aquarium