Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Dead Zones Increasing Off Oregon Coast, Including California, Washington

Published 11/05/2018 at 2:29 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff

Dead Zones Increasing Off Oregon Coast, Including California, Washington

(Newport, Oregon) – Scientists from the central Oregon coast’s Hatfield Marine Science Center say the low-oxygen “dead zones” offshore are not only increasing in size and frequency but they’ve been popping up along the coastlines of Washington and California as well.

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; Incredible specials now
In Cannon Beach:
Deals in full force now
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
Check each listing for specials
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Fantastic Deals for Winter
In Lincoln City:
Deals on rooms everywhere
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
Specials abound
In Newport:
Specials and deals like crazy
In Waldport
New amenities offered; specials
In Yachats, Florence
Many specials; lodgings not listed anywhere else

According to findings by Francis Chan of Oregon State University in Corvallis (of which the Hatfield in Newport is a part), Oregon has seen a decline in oxygen in ocean waters near the seafloor for two decades now, resulting in what they term “hypoxia season.” It’s not dissimilar to the idea of a wildfire season, except here there are periods where oxygen levels nosedive in various pockets of the West Coast, killing off fish and crabs.

Chan and his colleagues said this past summer of 2018 was one of the worst, a claim backed up by many commercial crabbers who noted major die-offs in their harvesting areas. They turned to the scientific community for help, and now NOAA, OSU and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) have teamed up to further study the issue.

“Our ocean is changing and when we first measured hypoxia off Newport in 2002, we thought it might be a local phenomenon,” Chan said. “That is no longer the case. Low oxygen is striking a big swath of the West Coast and is returning year after year. So we’d better learn to live with it.”

OSU researchers received a $1.1 million grant from NOAA Coastal Hypoxia Research Program to work with ODFW and crabbers over the next four years to place sensors in crab pots, equipment that will check oxygen levels. A lack of data has been a major hurdle in understanding these dead zone pockets, with only about four sensors out in the ocean. This new project will bring the number up to 40.

Over the summer, one sensor near Heceta Head documented oxygen levels reaching to zero close to the sea floor in early June, which coincided with reports by fishermen in the area of dead crabs.

The evidence this was working in pockets was startling. ODFW researchers had received a report of one crabber over the summer who only obtained four live crabs after deploying 120 pots into the ocean. Yet Chan talked to another crabber who had similar dismal results in one part of the Oregon coast waters, but only eight miles away there were plenty of crab to be found.

A major cause behind the dead zones is a changing climate, said Chan, which is causing waters around the world to lose their ability to hold oxygen.

Another major factor is shifting wind patterns. Waters off the Oregon coast get filled with nutrients by upwellings, which is created by southward winds mixing up the water to bring up nutrients from the deep. This fuels blooms of phytoplankton, which boost the food chain when it happens in balance, but the flipside is if there are too many they choke the oxygen out of the water as they die and sink to the seafloor.

Normally, according to OSU oceanographer Jack Barth, Oregon has wind patterns that alternate between conditions that create upwellings and those that stop the process after about a week or two.

“That allows the system to flush out and re-oxygenates the water,” Barth said. “Over the past several years, though, that flushing hasn’t happened as frequently and the phytoplankton overwhelms the system and essentially chokes it.”

Barth added an alarming element to all this is that they’ve begun to see low oxygen levels in the middle water column and not just the bottom, at the seafloor. This has implications of affecting other fisheries, such as halibut.

Oregon Coast Lodgings in this area - Where to eat - Maps - Virtual Tours

Oregon Coast Lodging

 




More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

 

Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss

 



Coastal Spotlight


LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Great Views of ISS for Pacific NW, Portland and Oregon Coast
The International Space Station will be extra bright on Saturday. Sciences
N. Oregon Coast Motor Lodge Moves Forward: Cannon Beach's Inn at Haystack Rock
From old school to new school, this historic inn travels into the future
Two Quakes Off Oregon Coast Wednesday, One Magnitude 5.4
Both quakes were centered about six miles beneath the ocean floor. South coast, Bandon
Shop at the Docks Takes Place at North and Central Oregon Coast
This Year A unique program that helps connect consumers with fishing boats and their freshly-caught fish. Newport events
Oregon Coast Aquarium Goes Live with Three New Web Cams
You'll find the Shark Cam, the Seabird Cam and the Otter Cam. Newport events
Free Outdoor Events Every Day in Summer at Yachats Area of Central Oregon Coast
Hikes, kayaking, science presentations and even tours of a famed lighthouse. Yachats events
Saturn, Jupiter and Two Meteor Showers for Washington, Oregon, Coastlines
A bevy of heavenly bodies and fireballs for Portland, Seattle, Oregon coast, Washington coast, Southern Oregon coast. Weather
Lincoln City's Beach Ave. and Overlook Park: Cloistered Central Oregon Coast ...
Along Beach Avenue, therein lies a bundle of fun and discoveries. Kids

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright BeachConnection.net Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted

Oregon Coast Lodging
Rentals
Specials

Dining

Events Calendar

Oregon Coast Weather

Travel News

Search for Oregon Coast Subjects, Articles

Virtual Tours, Maps
Deep Details