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Using Flotsam to Track Sources of Ocean Pollution
Monday, December 11, 2006 - 7:00pm

Location: Science Building 1, room 107, PSU

Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, famous for enlisting beachcombers to help scientists by reporting finds of Nike sneakers and hockey gloves, will speak on "Using Flotsam to Track Sources of Ocean Pollution" in Portland on Monday, Dec. 11.

Dr. Ebbesmeyer's slide presentation will take place at 7 p.m. in Room 107, Science Building 1 on the Portland State University campus (the building is on the northwest corner of S.W. 10th and S.W. Mill). The event is co-sponsored by the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition and the Environmental Science and Resources Department at PSU.

A retired consulting oceanographer, Ebbesmeyer pioneered the use of flotsam lost at sea at known locations to trace ocean currents, beginning with a spill of 80,000 Nike sneakers in 1990. He went on to found the Beachcombers' and Oceanographers' International Association and its newsletter, Beachcombers' Alert, which link citizens to scientists and enable them to report their finds on the beach in a manner useful to science.

This method of tracking debris has enabled Ebbesmeyer and other scientists to develop a fascinating portrait of ocean currents. But it has also produced an abundance of information about the very serious problem of marine debris which is increasingly choking ocean ecosystems. Ebbesmeyer's Portland talk will include both intriguing and amusing tales of pursuing stray rubber duckies for science, and insights into how these methods can also be used to trace pollution sources.

Prior to his work with beachcombers, Ebbesmeyer spent a long career as a consulting physical oceanographer, studying currents, eddies and other ocean phenomena while working on projects from offshore drilling platforms to sewage effluent pipes to dredge spoil deposits.

The event at PSU will also feature brief talks by Phillip Johnson, who directs Oregon Shores' CoastWatch volunteer program, and Robin Hartmann, Oregon Shores' ocean program director.

For information, contact Phillip Johnson, (503) 238-4450, orshores@teleport.com