Marine Reserves News: Plankton's Playground, Upwelling on the South Coast

A Deeper Dive

Plankton's Playground: Upwelling on the South Coast

ROV Launch


As the first glimpse of the ocean floor came into view, ODFW scientist Scott Marion did a double-take. Instead of the usual murky green water that is typical of Oregon nearshore waters, it was now crystal clear blue. With his hands on the controls of a remotely operated vehicle, Scott expertly navigated it through huge underwater boulders and pinnacles teeming with life. 

It was mid-May, and the first day of a five-day research expedition conducted in and around Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve as part of ODFW’s ongoing monitoring efforts. The wind had been blowing hard from the north before the trip started, but had tapered off by the first day of the research trip. On each of the following days, Scott watched the ocean color change from the crystal clear blue, back to murky, pea-soup green.

The reason for the dramatically changing visibility? Upwelling. While it can throw a wrench in scientific video surveys (it’s tough to count fish in murky water), this regular ocean phenomenon is anything but bad. It is crucial to sustaining ocean life and is the reason for the high productivity in Oregon’s nearshore waters. 

Want to see upwelling in action? Click on the video below to get a peek at what Scott was seeing, and head to our website to read the full story.

Upwelling Video

Click the video above to see what happens during upwelling

updates from field May