Corvallis Science & Nature: A New Research Ship, Bears and Salmon, and More

The last few weeks have had so many science and nature events going on around town that even the most dedicated nerd could never have made it to them all. Now, just as the weather has cooled off a little, so has the events calendar, with just a few this week. A fascinating interdisciplinary talk and a native plant work party are the main events this Memorial Day week and weekend. But first, some breaking science news from OSU researchers. 

New OSU Research Vessel Launched 

A new class of research vessel is about to hit the high seas, and one of the three cutting-edge ships will be based in Newport, operated by Oregon State University staff. The R/V Taani is 200 feet long and will accommodate 20 scientists for up to three weeks at sea. This was its first sea test, and it will now return to dock for additional construction and testing. Meanwhile, here in Corvallis, OSU researchers are developing and testing the scientific sensors and instrumentation that will power Taani’s scientific missions. Taani is a Siletz word meaning “offshore”. The new ship’s first research cruise is scheduled for 2025. 

Taking Bears into Account in Salmon Management 

Managing a fishery is never easy, but with salmon, it can be especially tricky. As anadromous fish, they spend most of their lives in the open ocean but come back to rivers and streams to breed, making them dependent on two very different ecosystems. Management of salmon fisheries has usually focused on one number, maximum sustainable harvest, or the number of fish that can be taken by recreational, commercial and Indigenous fishers without harming the overall population. What hasn’t traditionally been considered are the other animals that feed on salmon. In a new study in the journal Ecosphere, federal wildlife managers and OSU Associate Professor Jonathan Armstrong decided to add brown bear predation to the models that predict and govern Alaskan salmon fisheries. What they found, along with useful data for managing salmon to protect bear populations, is a rare piece of good news. According to the paper, “the most important conclusion was that bears were remarkably resilient to changes in salmon abundance.” In a time when fish in general, and especially Pacific salmon, often cause conflicts between human fishers and other predators, that’s good news for the bears, the fish, and the people who depend on them.  

Thursday: Ideas Matter Talk 

Often, science can get bogged down and siloed into specialties, and it can be incredibly valuable to bring different kinds of experts together to exchange ideas and understanding across disciplines. The Ideas Matter Philosophy+ series brings OSU philosophers into conversation with leading scientists to talk about the implications of their work. This Thursday, May 25, OSU Professor Dr. Dee Denver joins philosopher Dr. Rebekah Sinclair to talk about the intersections of different ways of thinking about biology and life on Earth, from Buddhism to Indigenous knowledge to western science. The talk begins at 5 pm at the Bière Library on NW Monroe Ave, Room 102. 

Saturday: Native Plant Gardening Event 

It may be a quieter week, but this time of year, there’s always a chance for nature-minded volunteers to get your hands in the dirt. This Saturday, May 27, the Corvallis chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon will be running a work party at the new Avery Park native plant garden. Learn about native plants while helping to build this resource for local education and conservation. Bring your own gloves, water, trowels, shovels and buckets. The event runs from 10 am to Noon. For more information, contact Esther at 

By Ian Rose 

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