Marine Reserves News: Oregonians Love the Coast (results from recent research)

A Deeper Dive

What Oregonians Love About the Coast

Oregonians Love the Coast

To celebrate Valentine’s Day this month, we’re taking a look at what people love about the Oregon coast. We’re drawing from a recent study out of Portland State University (PSU) that looks at how Oregonians value different places on the coast.

This study used an online survey with an open invitation for volunteers to participate (i.e. a convenience sample). One part of the survey showed a map of the Oregon coast and a list of 15 potential values. The participants placed “pins” for each value on the map in places that they thought best represented those values. One example of a value was “Aesthetic/Scenic” which meant “I value these places for their views, unique landforms, unique waveforms, unique sounds, or other sensory experiences.” This process of placing pins on a map is called a public participation geographic information system (PPGIS) exercise and is a tool often used in spatial planning.

A total of 318 online participants placed 9,700 pins in coastal locations. Most of the participants in this statewide survey were from the Willamette Valley, the Central Coast, and the North Coast. Some pin clusters were in locations that we would expect. For example, historic values were associated with Astoria, where Fort Clatsop is located. Additionally, many educational value pins were placed in Newport, home of the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Hatfield Marine Science Center, and in Coos Bay/Charleston, home of the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology. Charter and sport fishing value pins were placed in the Tillamook/Garibaldi region and the Newport/Depoe Bay region.

So, what values were associated with Oregon’s marine reserves? To answer this question, the PSU team looked at pins placed inside each marine reserve and associated marine protected area. In the Valentine’s themed infographic below, you can see the top three values (most pins) for each marine reserve ranked from left to right. For all of the marine reserves, two of the top three values were biodiversity and aesthetic values. The third value was unique for most marine reserves. For example, wilderness was valued at the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, while non-motorized recreation (e.g., surfing, kayaking, etc.) was valued at the Cascade Head Marine Reserve.

Infographic: Top 3 Values
Read the Report

A Look at Oceanographic Data from 2020

Oceanographic equipment on the deck of boat

To call last year a whirlwind would be an understatement. The COVID-19 pandemic affected all our lives and many aspects of the ODFW Marine Reserves Program’s field surveys in 2020. Despite those challenges, we were successful in collecting oceanographic data.

Map showing Cape Falcon Marine Reserve and Cape Meares

In our efforts to balance safety with the need to collect data, we found an opportunity to collaborate with a local fishing vessel. The F/V Lady Lee, out of Garibaldi, was able to set out a set of moorings with oceanographic sensors for our team. This was the first year we were successful in deploying and retrieving sensors at both the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve and the nearby comparison area, at Cape Meares, which is open to fishing. Having sensors in at both sites enables us to directly compare ocean conditions between these two locations.

Why is Oceanographic Data Important?
Oceanographic variables such as temperature, salinity, and oxygen levels have great influence on ecosystems and marine communities. Collecting these data along the Oregon coast provides valuable context to our other survey data and will help us better understand any long-term changes we might see over time.

What Did We See in 2020?
The first figure shows how temperature varied between July and September, 2020 at both Cape Falcon Marine Reserve and Cape Meares. Our team was interested to learn how similar the trends in temperature were between these two sites. The large spike in temperature reflects a shift in direction or weakening of the predominantly northerly winds found on our coast in the summer. The change in wind condition allows warmer offshore surface waters to move in towards the coast for short durations of time.

Temperature graph

The second figure shows levels of dissolved oxygen through time. The horizontal dashed line indicates the threshold at which ‘hypoxia’ occurs. Oxygen levels below 1.4 ml/L are considered hypoxic, and sustained periods of hypoxia can cause animals to migrate out of the area or even result in death. We did not observe any periods of hypoxia while the sensors were in the water.

Dissolved Oxygen

We will be continuing these exciting oceanographic monitoring effort in the years ahead and pairing these data with our other ongoing long-term monitoring efforts. A big thank you to those who have collaborated with ODFW to make this research possible.

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