Coastal Students Learn About Ocean Research

woodCoastal high schoolers and teachers have returned from a research cruise aboard an Oregon State University ship in which they counted more than 500 whales and learned what it is like to live and work at sea. After departing Newport on Sept. 13, the five students and three teachers helped OSU scientists on the R/V Oceanus collect data on marine mammals and seabirds between Heceta Bank and Astoria. Along the way, they strengthened their skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and learned about marine-related careers.

The students and teachers also collected plankton, entered and analyzed data and deployed and retrieved oceanographic instruments that profile the water column. They spotted jellyfish, ocean sunfish, albatross, tuna, orcas, fin whales, over 50 humpback whales, and more than 400 smaller whales, including Pacific white-sided dolphins, Northern right whale dolphins, and Dall’s porpoise.

The high schoolers and teachers hailed from Bandon, North Bend, Waldport, Newport and Warrenton. They were selected after applying for this unique educational opportunity, which was made possible by the National Science Foundation, Oregon State University, and the Oregon State Legislature.

The cruise was organized by Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, which serves educators, students and communities along the Oregon coast and is based at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Tracy Crews, Oregon Sea Grant’s marine education manager, and Leigh Torres, an OSU marine mammal researcher and an Oregon Sea Grant Extension specialist, led the expedition. Three OSU graduate students served as mentors and demonstrated survey techniques and proper use of scientific equipment.

On Sept. 16, the ship docked in Portland for an open house for the public and Portland area high schoolers and educators. The coastal students and teachers helped lead tours of the vessel. Researchers gave presentations, and an onboard dinner was held for educators. The ship returned to Newport on Sept. 18.

Read more about the trip on the following blogs:

Oregon Coast STEM Hub’s blog at

Leigh Torres’ lab at

Waldport High School teacher Kama Almasi’s blog at



The following teachers and students participated in the cruise.

  • Martha Kemple – teacher, Bandon High School
  • Matthew Perry – student, North Bend High School
  • Kama Almasi – teacher, Waldport High School
  • Etasha Golden – undergraduate, OSU (Waldport High School grad)
  • Leland Wood – student, Newport High School
  • Natalie DeWitt – student, Newport High School
  • Josh Jannusch – teacher, Warrenton High School
  • Charlotte Watkins – student, Warrenton High School