Thursday, December 30, 2010

A year in review: The 12 days of PTMSC

This blog is a quick year of highlights from the marine science center. These pictures are just some of the accomplishments, loves, and interests from this past year. Looking forward to many more experiences like these in 2011!

12 Clean Bones! 
(Staff and volunteers cleaned about 120 bones!)

11 Cast Teeth!
(Actually 44 teeth cast)

10 Children Learning!
(7,500 students joined us for educational programs this year!)

9 People beach cleaning!
(20 people joined us for our Ocean Day beach clean-up)

8 Volunteers exploring!
(We have 175 active volunteers at PTMSC)

7 Pseudonitzchia in a line!
(This plankton is considered the 'bad guy' in our SoundToxins program)

6 Gulls perching!
(Watching the gulls perch on our dock is one of our favorite things!)

5 Campers singing!
(We had 87 campers join us for Summer camp this year!)

4 Amazing AmeriCorps

3 Nudis in a row!
(We get excited when nudibranchs appear in our tanks!)

2 Lumpies Resting!
(One of our favorite additions to our center this year!)

1 Baby Slime Star!

All from one amazing organization!

We love you PTMSC!

From all of us at PTMSC we wish you Happy Holidays and a healthy New Year!
Peace. Love. Fishes.

Valerie Lindborg
PTMSC Lab Coordinator

Monday, December 27, 2010

Two Workshops by Ken Wilson

Experiencing Seabirds
Saturday, January 8, 2011 9:30AM- 3PM
Marine Exhibit Classroom at Fort Worden State Park

This workshop will go beyond simply identifying seabirds- it's for anyone with an interest in natural history or ecology, adaptation or even how the brain effects animal behavior.

Experiencing Animal Behavior
Saturday, January 22, 2011 9:30AM- 3PM
Marine Exhibit Classroom at Fort Worden State Park

Here you will have a fascinating look into how natural selection acts upon animals behaviors as much as it operates on anatomy and physiology.  This will connect animal behavior to adaptation and ecology.

PTMSC, Audubon or Burke Museum Members $25
(Free to current and new PTMSC exhibit docents)
General Public $30

Contact Ken Wilson,
or phone (360) 821-1101

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sea Lion Deaths from Leptospirosis

This year in Oregon has seen a striking increase in California sea lion deaths from leptospirosis, a contagious bacterial disease that causes kidney failure and manifests visibly as emaciation and lethargy.  The animals may also be observed drinking water; a highly unusual behavior for marine mammals which normally obtain all needed water from their food. The coastal population of California sea lions has been increasing overall, making mortality rates tricky to determine. Nevertheless, it is certain that far more animals are testing positive for the disease, warranting significant concern from researchers and beach-goers. 
Infected California Sea Lion

Leptospirosis can be transmitted to humans and other animals via direct contact with the urine. Dogs running free on the beach are especially at risk since the disease can also be spread through contact with contaminated sand, soil or vegetation. As a result, Oregon State University marine biologists are recommending that beach visitors maintain at least a 50 foot distance from any beached animal while keeping dogs on a leash.

"On the LEFT in the phtograph is a NORMAL KIDNEY, while on the RIGHT is KIDNEY FROM A SEA LION WITH SEVERE LEPTOSPIROSIS. In infected sea lions, the Leptospira bacteria often concentrate in the kidneys, initally causing the affected kidney to swell and become pale due in part to tissue damage and inflammation. Without treatment the damaged kidneys may eventually shut down. Thus the sea lion loses its ability to produce urine as a means to excrete body wastes and toxins."

If you see dead or sick marine mammals on Oregon beaches you're encouraged to call the Oregon State Police (1-800-452-7888).

For more information:

Jess Swihart
Natural History Exhibit Education Coordinator

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 at the East Jefferson County Marine Mammal Stranding Network

Here at the Marine Science Center, we manage the East Jefferson County Marine Mammal Stranding Network Hotline. This year we have had a total of 75 calls reporting 54 animals of 6 different species. 
The “percent response” shown above indicates how many calls about strandings were actually responded by a trained volunteer. While it initially appears as if our response has declined throughout the years, the number of calls has been increasing every year which naturally increases the difficulty of responding to every call. The growing number of calls is likely due to enhanced awareness of the network.

Unusual Stranding in Our Region
This year we had two fairly unusual strandings:
1. A harbor seal pup at Fort Flagler that  stuck around from 7/24 – 7/30, necessitating a large contingent of dedicated volunteers that were willing to remind inquisitive park visitors and their canine companions to keep their distance from the pup. The animal eventually swam away; a success story which helps to counterbalance the many deaths we witness.  
Photo by Janice Longstreet
2. A Steller Sea Lion carcass was found by Kateri Schmerler on 8/28/10 near Gardiner. We are in the process of collecting this skeleton.  Unfortunately, the skull has gone missing, but the PTMSC “C.S.I. Team” is hot on the trail!
Photo by Kateri Schmerler

The Stranding Network is enormously dependent on large group of trained volunteers. We're incredibly grateful for all they do; without their hard work and dedication our work would not be possible. To learn more information about the EJCMMSN or to get involved, check out our website (or send me an email!):

Jess Swihart
Natural History Exhibit Education Coordinator

Monday, December 13, 2010

You're a cute one, Mr. Grunt

It's that time of year again!  The eggs our grunt sculpins laid in late summer have finally started to hatch!  On Saturday, the first 22 eggs hatched while their tank was being cleaned.  I lovingly took the larval fish out of the tank with a turkey baster so they wouldn't be caught by the anemones.  Last year we weren't successful in raising the larval fish, so this year I decided to release them off the floating dock.  Hopefully they found shelter in the nearby eelgrass bed and will grow to be adorable adults. 
The grunt sculpins with their eggs (in the lower barnacle)
Stay tuned for more news on the eggs, last year they were hatching from Thanksgiving to May!

Come visit these fish and all our animals in the Marine Exhibit December 28-30th, 12-4pm.

Julia Ledbetter
Marine Exhibit Education Coordinator