Pet Improvement: Become a citizen scientist


Editor’s note: This new column, Pet Improvement, by Jane Laulis, will be a regular feature in upcoming editions of the News-Times.

 

Pet owners on the Oregon coast have the rare pleasure of enjoying one of the most pristine beaches in the country. A wonderful playground, it’s hard to fathom sometimes how important the ocean is to our pet’s health. Many crucial foods are sourced from the ocean. They are rich in micronutrients and omega fatty acids. Kelp provides iodine that supports thyroid gland function in humans and animals. Krill, sardines, anchovies and wild caught salmon all provide vital omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to omegas, shrimp, crab and other shellfish are used for taste, protein and even glucosamine in joint formulas. What happens in the ocean is important.

And that’s why I had the pleasure of sitting down with some key people from the Hatfield Marine Science Center to talk about their current research. Cinamon Moffett is the research coordinator and Mark Farley is the strategic initiatives manager for the center. Both are pet lovers and owners.

My question is what is up with ocean acidification? Cinamon artfully explains that because of the increasing changes in the ocean pH, it is interfering with the normal processes of the critters that make shells. It’s actually a very complex issue driven by a number of factors, but in the end the food chain is affected. If the smaller creatures are not developing properly, then the larger creatures do not thrive either.

Mark explains that one of the new approaches to these complex issues is the strategic initiative that he manages. In the initiative, concerned research groups from diverse backgrounds such as economic, behavioral, societal and so on weigh in. Hatfield is creating a cutting-edge new platform with these collaborative partnerships and a host of prestigious entities such as NOAA, Oregon Fish & Wildlife, Environmental Protection Agency and more.

He wants people to be aware of how we get food, how we get things from the ocean, what’s going on in the ocean and what they are doing about it. That’s the goal for the upcoming Marine Science Day at the center this Saturday, April 13, starting at 10 a.m. Scientists will be opening the doors to their laboratories. Tours start at 10:45 a.m. It’s a day to bring your family and expand everyone’s consciousness. Dr. Leigh Torrez will be showing previously unseen footage of blue and grey whales from the vantage of a drone outfitted with GoPro technology. Don’t miss this opportunity.

I asked them both what pet owners could do to contribute, and the response was exciting. Become a citizen scientist! This program thrives on observational data that comes from people that are walking and visiting the same areas daily. The Marine Science Day is a perfect opportunity to come and sign up. You receive short training and an app for your cellphone. The projects vary, and the input is vital.

For more information visit: https://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/marinescienceday#schedule-2015

 

Jane Laulis is an avid pet lover. She hosts a pet talk radio show and is involved with pets from research to retail, nutrition to pet food manufacturing. She lives in Lincoln County with her scientist husband, ocean faring dogs, indoor cats, exotic snakes and a charm of hummingbirds. She can be reached at [email protected]

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