Marine Reserves News: Winning photos, digging into hook-and-line data, what do coastal visitors know

A Deeper Dive

Human Dimensions Research:
Greater Familiarity Leads to Greater Concern for the Ocean

Beach goers

If you’ve spent time on the Oregon coast, you’ve likely noticed how Highway 101 can crawl to a stop in the summertime as you pass through visitor-packed small towns. Understanding these visitors, who they are, what they’re doing, and how they relate to the ocean provides a more complete picture of who is using and benefiting from the Oregon coast.

In 2016, ODFW conducted a visitor survey at various locations along the coast, from Cannon Beach down to Port Orford (check out the report and infographic). The main goals of the survey were to assess visitors’ level of awareness about the ocean and concern for ocean issues, determine how awareness and concern varied among visitor groups, and understand how ODFW can better provide information to visitors.

Graph: visitor frequency vs perceived threats and perceived understanding of the ocean

Based on responses to our survey, coastal residents and frequent coastal visitors were more likely to feel informed about ocean issues and perceived greater threats to the ocean than non-coastal residents.
Click on graph to see infographic.

Recently, we revisited these survey data, using more advanced statistical methods to see if we could use visitor characteristics to predict how much a visitor knows or thinks that they know about the ocean.

Based on these new analyses, we found that older visitors and those who felt more connected to nature thought that they knew more about ocean issues. But when it comes to actual knowledge about the ocean, as assessed by an ocean quiz, respondents with the highest scores were those who visited more frequently or actually live on the coast. These new results further emphasize the potential benefits of managers collaborating with locals and tapping into their knowledge to better address ocean and coastal issues here in Oregon.

Read more in the Reserves News post written by Haley Epperly, the Oregon Sea Grant Policy Fellow working with us on Human Dimensions Research.

Read More

Diving Into Hook-and-Line Data

Though our spring hook-and-line surveys were cancelled, our ecological team has been busy analyzing data from previous sampling years. These graphs summarize the average biomass of fish throughout the years of sampling at Cascade Head and Cape Perpetua, which were established as marine reserves in 2014. The numbers on the graph show us the average weight of fish caught per person per hour spent fishing (biomass).

An increase in biomass over time may be one of the first indicators of a marine reserve effect, a change seen because of the cessation of fishing.

Graph: average biomass at Cascade Head vs Cape Perpetua from 2013-2018

Note: Biomass scales differ between plots

At both the Cascade Head and Cape Perpetua marine reserves, we see that biomass has varied from year to year. The bars around each data point show the variation in biomass caught within a given year of sampling; larger bars mean there was more variation.

We also see that trends in biomass differ among the areas surveyed. At Cascade Head the change in biomass from year to year follows a similar trend between the marine reserve and comparison area (sometimes increasing, sometimes decreasing) and biomass has always been higher at the reserve than the comparison area, even before it was closed to fishing. In contrast, at Cape Perpetua, we see a different trend of increasing biomass within the reserve and decreasing at the comparison area.

Tiger rockfish being measured during a hook-and-line survey

Each of Oregon’s marine reserves is unique. For instance Cascade Head includes an extensive rocky reef, is in a major upwelling center, receives freshwater input from the Salmon River, and experienced high fishing pressure on groundfish prior to closure. Cape Perpetua is dominated by sand and gravel habitats; features a deep, patchy, isolated rocky reef; is known to experience episodes of hypoxia (low oxygen) and acidification (low pH); and experienced moderate fishing pressure on groundfish and high fishing pressure on crab prior to closure. These unique characteristics mean we expect to see different ecological changes and conservation outcomes between these sites over time.

We are continuing to explore if the variations seen here in fish biomass are linked to differences in habitat, community composition or ocean conditions. Continued long-term monitoring will help us understand trends in biomass over time and separate out those caused by natural ocean changes - such as those related to oceanographic conditions - from marine reserve effects.

Photo Winners:
Favorite Oregon Coast Experience

We received so many great photos from all of you. Here we share some of our top picks. We’ll be sure to showcase some of the other submissions in future eNewsletters, via Instagram @odfwmarine, and on our website.

Photo by Gary Edmiston - landscape

Photo by Gary Edmiston: "Princess Ewuana looks at the Moon" Bandon OR

Photo by Hillary Williams - human dimensions

Human Dimensions
Photo by Hillary Williams

Photo by Stephen Ikeda - wildlife (harbor seals)

Photo by Stephen Ikeda: "Photo of harbor seals that I took on 1/25/2018 at the mouth of the Salmon River near Cascade Head (north of Lincoln City). We moved to the Oregon Coast in 2017 from the Washington, DC area and are enjoying the wildlife that reside here."

Photo by Jeff Case - sunset

Photo by Jeff Case: "Here is a picture I took while clamming on the Oregon Coast between Gearhart and Warrenton. We had a great time and limited out."

Photo by Sue Zemliak - marine reserve

Marine Reserve
Photo by Sue Zemliak: "My Favorite Oregon Coast Experience is photographing the natural beauty and wildflowers of the Central Oregon Coast. This photo shows a good portion of the Otter Rock Marine Reserve, shot from atop Cape Foulweather, looking south. My husband and I live in Otter Rock, in fact you can see our place in this photo. Living at the coast has inspired me to get into photography again. So now I am living my Favorite Oregon Coast Experience!"

Updates From the Field

intertidal surveys, while practicing social distancing

Practicing good social distancing while out surveying sea stars. ODFW Marine Reserves Program staff and OSU-MSI Science Integration Fellow.


Our staff were excited to venture out into the intertidal this week to conduct Sea Star Wasting surveys at Otter Rock and Cascade Head. After a risk assessment and some adjustments to our field operations, our staff felt we could safely resume these surveys during the COVID-19 pandemic at this time.

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