A creature that most of us don’t even realize exists plays a critical role in keeping Oregon’s bays and estuaries clean. The burrowing shrimp tunnels deep into the mud of tide flats like those at Yaquina Bay to feed on organic matter, hastening its decomposition and keeping pollution in check. But the burrowing shrimp population may be in trouble. The FIELD GUIDE crew joins marine biologists studying the burrowing shrimp and just what kind of impact a drop in population might have on the environment. Tune in to the stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting television at 8:30pm Thursday, January 26. The weekly series, hosted by Steve Amen, also features a look at a spectacular 15-mile mini-railroad and one of the most rare butterflies in the world.

Burrowing Shrimp — There may be as many as a billion burrowing shrimp in the over 900 acres of tide flats at Yaquina Bay. But scientists studying the creature and the role it plays in tempering pollution believe that more than 50 percent of its population may be infected with a lethal parasite. The parasite, which may have arrived relatively recently in the holds of cargo ships from China, reduces the shrimp’s capacity for reproduction. The question scientists are trying to answer is exactly how big a role this creature plays in tempering pollution and at what point they are overloaded with organic matter. The answers are vital for sustaining the health of the waterway’s fish, worm and crab populations.

Train Mountain — In Chiloquin, FIELD GUIDE takes a ride on a spectacular mini-railroad with some “garden train” enthusiasts. Quentin Breen began construction on the railroad 18 years ago to provide a place where grown men could come to ride small trains. Today, there are over 24 miles of track and folks come from near and far to ride the rails of what the “Guiness Book of World Records” says is the longest hobby railroad in the world. We’ll look at some of the meticulous reproductions, one-eighth the size of normal trains, and see what future plans are for the development of this railroad fantasyland.

Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly — A small park in Benton County is home to the largest population of one of the rarest butterflies in the world. Until recently, little was known about the Taylor’s Checkerspot, but studies now confirm their numbers are declining. They need a specialized prairie meadow habitat to survive and that habitat is disappearing. See how the Oregon Zoo and some private landowners are trying to bring hope for the survival of this beautiful creature.

Videos of the stories featured on FIELD GUIDE are available at opb.org/programs/ofg/ or watch entire programs at watch.opb.org.

Check out the FIELD GUIDE blog at http://blogs.opb.org/fieldjournal/ or follow us on facebook at facebook.com/oregonfieldguide.


In its 22nd season, OREGON FIELD GUIDE remains a valuable source of information about outdoor recreation, ecological issues, natural resources and travel destinations. OREGON FIELD GUIDE airs Thursday evenings at 8:30pm on the television stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting and repeats on Sundays at 1:30am and 6:30pm. In the Mountain Time zone of Eastern Oregon, the program airs at 9:30pm Thursdays, and at 7:30pm Sundays.

About OPB

OPB is the largest cultural and education institution in the region, delivering excellence in public broadcasting to 1.5 million people each week through television, radio and the Internet. Widely recognized as a national leader in the public broadcasting arena, OPB is a major contributor to the program schedule that serves the entire country. OPB is one of the most-used and most-supported public broadcasting services in the country and is generously supported by 120,000 contributors.