Marine Reserves News: A Killer Whale Surprise and Reports from the Field

A Deeper Dive
Charter vessel returning to Depoe Bay

Valuable Conversations With Fishing Communities

By Guest Contributor and Research Collaborator Vaughn Robison
(Master’s Student, Oregon State University)

There’s no hiding from the fact that Oregon’s marine reserves have caused contentious conversations. This is true even when both communicators desired the same outcome, such as the reserves’ mandate to conserve marine resources while avoiding adverse impacts on ocean users and coastal communities. These types of conflicts have been attributed, in part, to value systems clashing and contributing to misunderstandings within these conversations.

A Study of the Garibaldi, Depoe Bay, and Port Orford Fishing Communities

A study this summer from Oregon State University (OSU) will explore how fishing communities use their values to communicate social and economic impacts caused by the state’s marine reserves. It will also examine how they use their values to communicate their trust for ODFW to manage these areas.

The study builds upon research from Dr. Elizabeth Marino, a cultural anthropologist who identified sources of resistance from Oregon’s fishing communities toward the reserves and the initial impacts they experienced. The study also builds on her resulting suggestion that ongoing monitoring of these impacts should reflect the fishing community’s values. Marino will continue to lead the forthcoming study, but has recruited a coastal resident with deep connections to the fishing community to help conduct the research’s in-person interviews.

Vaughn Robison

That’s me, Vaughn Robison, a Depoe Bay resident and graduate student in OSU’s Environmental Arts & Humanities masters and Fisheries Management certificate programs. I’m thrilled by the opportunity offered by Dr. Marino and ODFW to help shape this study and apply it toward my thesis.

In addition to satisfying my thesis, the study will also support ODFW’s legislative mandate to track and describe the human-dimension impacts caused by the reserves. In addition to understanding these impacts, recognizing how they are communicated can later be used by the agency and others to enhance conversations with fishing communities about them.

But talking to these communities using their value systems first starts with listening to what they are.

Read more about Vaughn’s research, his roots in the Depoe Bay fishing community, and why this work is meaningful to him.

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Survey form

Human Dimensions Research - ODFW Summer Fieldwork

In June our three summer interns began fieldwork surveying coastal businesses and visitors. The business survey is used to find out if local business owners are aware that the marine reserves exist and if they think the reserves have impacted their business. The visitor survey is used to assess marine reserve awareness, knowledge, and opinions along with determining the purpose of their trip and how often they visit the coast. Similar surveys of visitors and businesses were conducted from 2012 through 2015 as the reserves were first being implemented.

We will compare survey responses from this year to those past surveys as one way to investigate if the marine reserves have impacted coastal visitors and businesses. Stay tuned for that comparison in a few months.

Killer Whale video clip

Video: A surprise on our way out to the Cascade Head Marine Reserve on June 10th to set out oceanographic moorings. Check out this Killer Whale speeding alongside our research vessel. Thanks to our collaborators at OSU for helping deploy the oceanographic moorings and catching this awesome site on video.

Ecological Monitoring Field Updates

ODFW Updates:

Oceanography icon

Oceanographic Monitoring: Our oceanographic mooring was set out at Cascade Head in mid-June by OSU collaborators aboard the R/V Kalipi. The mooring collects data on temperature, salinity, and oxygen to track changing ocean conditions. While hypoxic conditions have already been detected at Cape Perpetua this year by PISCO-OSU researchers, this mooring will tell us if low oxygen conditions are also happening at Cascade Head.


Sea Star Surveys: This month we conducted intertidal sea star monitoring at Otter Rock and found similar numbers of sea stars as last year, and very little signs of sea star wasting disease.


Fall Season: Staff are presently submerged in data analysis and writing which will continue through the fall. This is part of the development of the ODFW Marine Reserves Program Synthesis Report, which will report on the program’s activities and monitoring over the last 10 years. The Synthesis Report will be completed in December and released in 2022.

Limited fall fieldwork will include retrieval of our oceanographic equipment and juvenile fish (SMURF) moorings.

Collaborator Updates:

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Fish and Crab Movement Study: In June, our OSU collaborators serviced the acoustic moorings currently in the water at Redfish Rocks. These moorings are part of a collaborative research project being led by OSU to study fish and crab response to noise generated from an NSF geological seismic survey, targeting the Cascadia Subduction Zone, that was being conducted off the Oregon coast in June.

pH icon

Ocean Acidification Monitoring: This month, pH sensors were set out in rocky intertidal areas at Redfish Rocks, Otter Rock, Cascade Head, and Cape Falcon. This project is led by PISCO scientists from OSU, with assistance from local community members. The sensors will stay out in the intertidal through the summer months. Thanks to volunteers from The Nature Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation, and the Redfish Rocks Community Team for getting the sensors installed.

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Juvenile Fish Surveys: Our collaborators at OSU, with help from the Oregon Coast Aquarium, collected juvenile fish samples from the SMURF moorings deployed at Otter Rock this month. Take a sneak peek in the next segment at some of the results from the data collected so far this year.

SMURF on deck of boat

Back With A Splash:
Resuming Juvenile Fish Sampling In 2021

By Guest Contributor and Research Collaborator Megan Wilson
(PhD Student, Oregon State University)

We are currently in the middle of our 2021 sampling season. In just four sampling events, we’ve collected, identified, and measured 788 juvenile fishes from 7 different species/species complexes. These samples were collected from our SMURF moorings placed at Otter Rock and the Cape Foulweather Comparison Area this year. Species we’ve observed so far this year include Cabezon, Clingfish, Kelp Greenling, Lingcod, Snailfish, and the OYTB and QGBC rockfish complexes.

First Time Seeing Juvenile Lingcod 

Interestingly, 2021 is the first year that we’ve ever observed Lingcod in our SMURFs. The SMURFs collect fishes in their settlement stage (when larval fish begin to associate with structural or physical habitat), by mimicking kelp-like settlement habitat. Lingcod are thought to prefer sandy bottom settlement habitat rather than kelp, making their occurrence in the SMURFs quite surprising. Additionally, during our sampling event on July 7th, we caught a grand total of 478 fishes at our Otter Rock and Cape Foulweather sites – a record number of fishes for these two sites!

A Sneak Peek Into 2021 SMURF Data 

Below is a sneak peek into our 2021 SMURF data. The stacked bar chart shows the species or species complex composition of our catch so far this year at four different sampling events (indicated by date on the x-axis). We can’t wait to see what we’ll catch throughout the rest of the 2021 SMURF season, so stay tuned.

Stacked bar chart of recent SMURF data

See More Data and Learn Why We Monitor Juvenile Fish Settlement 

Read on to learn more from Megan about the SMURF project, why we monitor juvenile fishes, and to see some additional results from her data analysis.

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