Land-Sea Symposium in Yachats presents evidence of climate change

Divers set up an underwater camera system in one of the marine reserves off the coast of Oregon. (Photo courtesy of ODFW Marine Reserves) U.S. Forest Service Cape Perpetua Visitor Center Director Vicki Penwell, left, and Field Ranger Becky Everly shared information about the endangered marbled murrelet at the seventh annual Cape Perpetua Land-Sea Symposium. Penwell noted that the seabirds nest in the forest trees of Cape Perpetua. (Photo by Cheri Brubaker)

YACHATS — Oregon State University (OSU) Distinguished Professor Bruce Menge was the keynote speaker at the seventh annual Cape Perpetua Land-Sea Symposium held Nov. 21 at the Yachats Commons. 

A lead and founding principal investigator for Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO) and the Ocean Margin Ecosystem Group for Acidification Studies (OMEGAS), Menge presented scientific evidence of increasing carbon dioxide and ocean acidification.

Menge provided an overview of what PISCO, a consortium of scientists studying the impacts of climate change, hypoxia and ocean acidification, learned from their observations and study, their role in communicating relevant knowledge and their work to train new generations of students.

When asked what the general population can do in response to the scientific evidence of climate change and the detrimental effect upon human health and health of the ecosystem, Menge said, “What needs to happen, that hasn’t happened yet, is we need to work hard towards effective ways that will reduce CO2, the main source of ocean acidification and the warming of the planet.”

“That’s what I try to do in my life, what my colleagues try to do,” continued Menge, “But, ultimately, we are all subject to decisions made by policy makers. [We should be] supporting people with goals to reduce CO2.”

Menge emphasized, “We need people in positions who make decisions to be educated about these things and be able to act to change them. It’s ridiculous that so many people don’t understand that the climate is changing and that human action is responsible for that change,” he continued. “Scientifically, there is no doubt. The only scientists that would disagree with that are misinformed or have another agenda.”

Menge touched on sea star wasting and recovery, as well as the importance of long-term research for marine reserve design.

Following the keynote address, there was a social mixer with drinks and appetizers — The Drift Inn’s pizza certainly a highlight. While socializing, attendees were able to peruse the displays of many other relevant organizations and gather information on their work.

The Oregon Dunes Restoration Collaborative (ODRC) is a group of off-highway vehicle riders, wilderness advocates, elected officials and anyone who is interested and passionate about saving the dunes,” said Brian Saunders, outreach coordinator. He added they are currently focused on fundraising to hire a consultant to assist the collaborative in completing a strategic plan.

The collaborative was formed as a result of the realization that without “prompt action, the dunes as we know it would completely disappear, and that the task is too large to tackle alone.” ORDC seeks to “bring back the wind-blown sand of the dunes, native plants and the unique wildlife by eliminating and controlling invasive species, by preserving the best remaining examples of a healthy dune ecosystem and by restoring critical areas and geological processes.” More information can be found at saveoregondunes.org.

Two presentation shorts and four lighting rounds followed the social mixer. Paul Really presented “Engaging Change: Welcome to Oregon State Parks.” Surfrider Foundation’s Oregon Policy Manager gave a “Rocky Shore Update.” An OSU senior faculty research assistant presented information on the enigma of the Pacific — the marbled murrelets. A staff scientist and aviation conservation manager of Portland Audubon detailed the Oregon Black Oystercatcher Project.

Also, Robert Bailey, coastal advocate and board member of the Elakha Alliance, discussed why sea otters are extinct in Oregon. And OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center Assistant Professor Leigh Torres discussed the condition of whales along the Oregon coast.

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