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The Last Week: A Reflection

Posted by: | August 27, 2016 | 1 Comment |

I can’t believe that I’ve already been away from Oregon for a week. As I’m telling my friends back home my experiences, I know that Oregon will always have a place in my heart. My last week at WRCA wrapped up pretty uneventfully, making sure that I put a bow on all of my projects so that they’re easily accessible to those in the future that will use them.

Off work, I spent my time saying see you later to the friends that I made, and trying to cram all of the stuff that I had acquired into my suitcase. I tasted the famous Denny’s Pizza in Coquille (still the best pizza ever) again, and I tried out a few local hotspots that I had been wanting to try – Edgewaters (I tried Halibut for the first time!), Coastal Mist (delicious chocolate company, where you can get their awesome chocolate mixed with coffee for a great mocha), and Broken Anchor (a local bar & grill favorite, where I learned how to play shuffleboard for the first time). I walked all around Bandon and visited their cute artisan stores, finally settling on my favorite sea-glass necklace (made my Sally, who also sells seashells on the Port of Bandon, a.k.a. the Sea Shore).

I learned a lot about development efforts in the rural United States, and I’ve already been able to use this knowledge in a few of my classes in the first week of school. But most importantly, Oregon taught me most about who I am – in the quiet summer, humbled by the giant trees, listening to the sea breeze, I looked inside and was really able to discover who I am, critically reflect on my career path, and determine where I want to go in the future. One of my goals of the summer was to “find peace” –- to learn how to focus my mind and energy and determine what activities allow me to be the most peaceful and productive. I believe I’ve found just that, and it’s allowed me to settle into my school year, with my sights on my senior projects, making new friends, and applying to graduate school. I cannot thank enough Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State, WRCA, and everyone involved in the programs for selecting me to receive this invaluable experience. Thanks to those who mentored me along the way, and for all that you’ve taught and shown me. I will be forever grateful. I know that it is not a goodbye to Oregon – I am already planning my next trip up. See you soon!

under: Lexi Brewer

Giving Thanks

Posted by: | August 25, 2016 | 1 Comment |

I couldn’t think of a better last day than having it be the last Shop at the Dock. I spent Thursday making some baked goods to thank all of the fishermen who participated in the program (and tolerated our presence on the docks). Through all of the events, the best part was getting to see how grateful participants and fishermen were and I’m lucky to have been a part of it.

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I am unbelievably proud of this.

With the program over, I’ll look forward to spending some time with my family, getting in some traveling, and finding a job. I’ve always been interested in science and education. Helping with Shop at the Dock and being a part of Sea Grant has solidified my interest in pursuing both. It was really great seeing what a powerful tool education can be and I’d like to find a career where I can incorporate education and outreach with science.

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So long Sea Grant

I wanted to finish off by thanking the village of people who worked so hard to make this summer happen. So thanks Haley, Mary, Sarah and every other Sea Grant employee who made the Summer Scholars Program possible. I am eternally grateful to my mentors, Kaety Jacobson and Kelsey Miller, for the wealth of information, the never-ending guidance and support, and for being a constant source of inspiration. Also huge thanks to the rest of the Shop at the Dock crew- Jess Porquez, Amanda Gladics, and Mark Farley- for teaching me about Newport, fisheries, different career paths, and how to be understanding and gracious towards others with conflicting opinions.

Thank you to my fellow Summer Scholars, who made this summer unforgettable. I’m so grateful to have been surrounded by such incredible, kind, and caring people and I will miss you all dearly. Cheers to the many outdoor adventures, the endless sass and sarcasm, the great meals and conversations, and everything in between.

And finally, thanks very much for reading and (hopefully) listening along with me. I’ll finish this post with my final song of the summer from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros called Home. Partly because I’m happy to be headed home for a bit, but mostly because I’m so grateful to have found a little piece of home along the Oregon Coast. Newport, you will be missed.

under: Stephanie Ng, Summer Scholars
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All things that begin must end. But not all things have to end the way they began. Friends made, memories of the journey, and the momentos of progress and challenge all are forged in time. Each token of time will remain a keepsake to me forever. Things certainly did not end the way they began: the Oregon coast has been explored, several estuaries have beeen preserved in cyberspace and eagerly await analysis, and my curly mug has been etched into the brains of at least 20 people. A journey like this teaches many things, but as with all teachings the lessons are unique to the one experiencing  it. My mentors include my team, SEACOR, the tides and the ocean, my fellow summer scholars, the Sea Grant Staff, and of course practically the entire Hatfield Marine Science Center staff; all of which deserve personal thanks.

Perhaps my favorite part was personally experiencing (and at least partly responsible for creating) the beauty of images taken 7-60 meters above the ground (click on them!):

Final Alsea Bay Flight; collected via TurboAce MAtrix-E w/ Sony RX100 M3. A Labor of love, these mosaics require intense attention to detail for long periods of time.

Mill 18, Courtesy Erik Suring.

Trask River Dam Removal

 

Or perhaps it was the places I went, the way the sun rised and set, or the things I met:

 

 

But I know for sure it was the people I encountered and befriended, the people who taught me so much, the friends who became family, and the family who I will surely miss:

under: Skyler Elmstrom, Summer Scholars

Week 10 – fin: The Naturalist

Posted by: | August 23, 2016 | 1 Comment |

Way back during my sophomore year of college, I took a course on general natural history – although the way the professor taught, it was more like story time than a lecture. He was one of those old school naturalists from the 1960s who built their careers simply by walking around and observing the subtle ecological interactions that you and I would have obliviously strolled past. Even now half-deaf from countless doses of antimalarial drugs and wizened from decades of work in the tropics, he retained a noticeable enthusiasm in his voice every time he regaled us about this particular insect or that peculiar plant.

His passion for nature was one that was superseded only by his mission for conservation, something that he strove to emphasize in every lecture. I took the following passage from an assigned article of his, one that I was reminded of as I reflected over the past ten weeks.

Science and society are uneasy partners in the wildland garden: In the best of worlds we may achieve a very fine and finely negotiated partnership, and in the worst of worlds, annihilation of one by the other. A wildland garden with gentle trodding from caring gardeners just might achieve the partnership. A wilderness faces certain annihilation as a battlefield.

This description is a summary of a larger ideal, one in which we humans view nature not as an unfathomable wilderness, but as a giant, valuable garden. It’s an ideal that has yet to be realized. In this modern age of technology and industry, the only way to ensure we have wild spaces left is to appeal to human authority and market the wilds as pragmatic and worth saving. An intact nature certainly does provide a wealth of ecosystem services and a multitude of other assets (not to mention aesthetics), but as it stands now, the magnitude of these benefits is lost to the majority of society.

The way things are going these days, this is the approach that we must pursue. But at the same time, I think there’s still hope for a paradigm shift, one where we will eventually acknowledge nature not just on its tangible worth, but also on its intrinsic values. My time here with the ODFW Marine Reserves Program has been an enlightening experience of what has so far been accomplished and also what needs to be done further in this regard. If there’s anything I can pass along to those of you who are reading, it would be these few lessons that I’ve learned both here and in years past.

  1. Nature has been extraordinarily resilient against humanity’s “management,” but there is a breaking point.

One of the greatest follies of human nature is that we think we know best (the operative word here being “think”). But the truth is that we have learned after the fact too many times for us to know what is and isn’t good for the environment:

And yet people still think ventures like the Pebble Mine are good ideas. I could go on and on, but the message is that most of the time our intentions are neutral at best and irreparably catastrophic at worst. We’ve seen it countless times already, we’re still seeing it happen in the present, and we’re bound to repeat it in the future if something doesn’t change.

The solution? Allow our scientists and their research to inform and guide us, which takes us to my next point.

  1. Science takes time.

…but right now there is no time, which is why endeavors such as the marine reserves that conserve the study area throughout the research process are so critical. The reserves are due for an evaluation by legislature in 2023, more than a decade after they were created. A lot can happen in ten years, and already for many places it would be too late to begin research without some kind of protection plan in place, as is the case here.

In the meantime…

  1. We need to tap into our inner naturalists.

There is a very real and ongoing disconnect between humans and nature, a phenomenon that I believe is at the heart of the problem. It seems to me that there’s a correlation between technological advancement and a diminishing appreciation for nature. That isn’t to say the modern world we’ve created is inherently bad, but as we stray farther from our primitive roots, we lose the ability to identify with the outside world. The society we’ve become is one that is incapable of recognizing the well-being of anything outside of its own domesticated bubble. Simply put, if we don’t have any reason to care, then we have no reason to shoulder any responsibility.

Amidst all of the contention, there is a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Oregon’s marine reserves (and indeed, all of our protected areas) are serving as the models we need going forward. Put science at the forefront in dictating policy, set definitive boundaries that give biodiversity a fighting chance to bounce back, and communicate the virtues of a robust ecosystem to the rest of the world. Until there is a universally understood obligation to maintain our wild spaces, it’s perhaps the only way we’ll attain any semblance of harmony.

The alternative if we don’t? Human encroachment continues until there are only isolated and ecologically useless patches of wilderness left, pollution sullies the rest, and our natural resources are eventually depleted as we consume with reckless abandon. Society will be left to ponder what went wrong. As with many things past, we’ll only know what we lost when it’s well and truly gone.

under: Edward Kim, Summer Scholars

To Alabama and Beyond

Posted by: | August 23, 2016 | 2 Comments |

My experiences this summer were incredible. I wish that I could stay a Sea Grant Scholar forever. Unfortunately, this is not possible and I will have to continue on my career path through different avenues.

This fall I will return to the University of Alabama to complete my final semester. I will graduate with a B.S. in Marine Science/Biology and a minor in Geology. During my last term on campus, I will be taking slightly fewer classes that I have before. This will allow me to increase my participation in research opportunities on campus. I will continue to serve as a research assistant in the geology department. This semester will be unique in that I have been given the opportunity to conduct my own project on oyster shells from gulf coast aquaculture. Secondly, I will begin work at the Geological Survey of Alabama. I will be working in the survey’s ecological monitoring department. My duties will require my participation in field work and the entry of data from the fish we collect.

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After graduation in December, I plan to pursue a fisheries observer position in Alaska. My observer training would begin late February. My intentions are to hold this position for approximately a year and pursue a master’s degree starting in the Fall of 2018. I also have aspirations to work as a raft guide in the summer leading up to my graduate studies. I am at an exciting point in my life where my path could go many different directions. I look forward to my future adventures and am grateful for all I have learned and all who I met during my time as a Sea Grant Summer Scholar.

NOAA

under: Uncategorized

During Week 9, I spent most of my time designing my PowerPoint and poster and prepping for the presentation and poster session Friday. So, not much to report in terms of activities. But I would like to share my poster with you and talk a little bit about my major findings. Even for non-crabbers, I think they are pretty interesting.

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I interviewed 162 boats with 452 anglers on board. After asking crabbers how much gear they lost that day, I calculated that the rate of pot loss was about 0.025 pots + rings per angler trip in both the ocean and the bay. What that number boils down to is that if you decided to hop in your boat right now and go crabbing, you’d have about a 2.5% chance of loosing one of your pots or rings.

(An “angler trip” is a single fisherman taking a single fishing trip. For instance, if three crabbers go crabbing on a boat, that is considered three angler trips, even though all three crabbers were on the same vessel.)

I took that statistic and, along with the average number of angler trips taken in 2010 and 2011, found a minimum estimate for the number of pots and rings lost each year in Oregon: a little over 2,000. 725 in the ocean and 1,317 in five of Oregon’s major estuaries. These are based on a small set of data, but I am excited that I was able to help put a number on something that was previously unknown. ODFW is going to look into trying to expand the data set, maybe by doing more interviews at different ports and times of year. This could also provide some info on “hotspots” of gear loss.

In other news, we made some crab cakes with fresh Dungeness this week, and they were some of the best things I’ve ever eaten. And that’s coming from someone whose most favorite foods are almost always in the pasta and ice cream categories. Eggs + mayonnaise + lemon juice + tarragon + green onions + buttery crackers + crab = magic.

Although, if I’m being honest, just crackers = magic as well.

under: Claire Mullaney, Summer Scholars

Week 8: A Week of Firsts

Posted by: | August 19, 2016 | 2 Comments |

With few more windy afternoons out at the marina, I officially wrapped up data collection early the first week of August. 162 interviews. 452 anglers. 2,757 Dungeness crab caught and kept.

My plan was to spend most of the week working on data analysis and my upcoming presentation, but there’s always time for a little excursion. On Tuesday, I tagged along with Justin to retrieve one camera pot and deploy two more. The wind that was so strong the week before had died down significantly, and it was a beautiful day to be out on the ocean.

Wednesday afternoon, I learned how to drive a boat…which is something I definitely hadn’t anticipated getting the chance to learn anytime soon, much less this summer. Justin and I were collecting a few Dungeness in Alsea Bay, and he asked me if I wanted to take the wheel while the pots were soaking. And, just like that, I was doing something I’d been interested in learning ever since I spent weekends at lakes as a kid. By the time we were finished for the afternoon, there were whitecaps in the bay and the water was so choppy that the waves were washing onto the dock, but braving the wind (it’s never far away for long) was well worth it.

That was First #1. An enriching/educational experience. First #2 came on Friday at 8:04 AM when my knife slipped, going straight through the back of my avocado and into my hand. It wouldn’t have been an issue – there was minimal blood, and the cut was not large – but I managed to cut myself in between my fore and middle fingers, a location that would make the healing process a little more difficult. Even with my iron stomach (it’s a significant point of pride for me), I felt like I was going to black out looking at the wound and “into” my finger. I was fine after my roomies helped me to the couch and bandaged me up, but I still ended up having to get my first-ever stitches later that morning. Sorry for the details, but I haven’t had an injury to show off in a while. Plus, the way I left the avocado and knife looks a bit like the scene of a crime, only with less blood. Who’s hungry?

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The pit came right out after that, by the way. Mission accomplished.

[Side note: one of the nurses at the clinic said I seemed like the type of person who “knows no strangers,” or something like that. Then she went on to say that I seemed like I could talk to a wall if I wanted to. Not sure how I feel about that last part, but the evidence is clear: interviews about Dungeness crabs are definitely bringing out my inner social butterfly. No one has told me anything in the same galaxy as either of those statements before.]

The weekend was uneventful for the most part, but we did hang out at Port Dock 1 and watch these guys for a while.

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Sea lion life is a soap opera. It’s all cuddles until someone tries to get on your dock. Then plenty of barking and biting ensues. Soon the whole group joins in, as if they don’t actually know the latest drama but still can’t bear to be left out of the action.

More coffee on Saturday, and the wind was calm enough on the walk across the bridge for me to actually be able to stop and take a photo of the marina where I work every day.

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Thank for the great photo op, Cafe Mundo

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I’ve been talking to crabbers at the boat ramp of South Beach Marina

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The bar looking stunning at sunset

under: Claire Mullaney, Summer Scholars

Week 9: Gray skies and whales

Posted by: | August 19, 2016 | 2 Comments |

This weekend was great! We went whale watching in Depoe Bay where a resident group of gray whales reside. Our tour guide, Carrie Newell is a retired researcher from OSU who has dedicated her life to researching gray whales. Another cool thing about our tour was her dog, who can smell whales and let us know when a whale was nearby by lifting up one ear.

He senses a whale!

He senses a whale!

I was dubious at first but I can say with conviction, that dog definitely has a unique talent for spotting whales. We saw three grays, one of which was sleeping! We cut the engine of our boat and floated nearby watching the sleeping whale bob up and down in the choppy waves.

The rest of the week was spent preparing for the Sea Grant Symposium presentation and poster session. It was a great opportunity to share my research with my fellow interns and other researchers at Hatfield. While preparing for the symposium I also found myself reflecting on how much I have learned this summer. After reading over 60 scientific papers related to ocean acidification I feel much more confident in my grasp of the subject. I also know that there are many gaps in the literature and the scientific community has a lot of work ahead of them if we are to fully understand how our changing oceans will affect marine life. I hope I am able to apply the knowledge I acquired this summer and contribute to this field in my future career, hopefully starting this fall when I will be doing my oceanography senior thesis.

 

under: Uncategorized

Final Thoughts

Posted by: | August 18, 2016 | 3 Comments |

This morning researchers up and down Oregon’s coast set out before the sunrise in search of green crabs. As part of a simultaneous sampling effort, I have trapped at my most productive field sites over the past three days. This morning alone 32 green crabs were collected at one site. This is an exciting number as I only captured 52 at the site over the whole summer. I can’t think of a better way to mark the end of my incredible 10 week internship.

I have absolutely loved my time here in Oregon. The research I participated in kept me excited and provoked in me ideas for future research. My position allowed me to receive valuable career advice from several very successful figures in the science community. By participating in several different projects, I was able to further refine a field a study to target for my graduate studies. I lived and worked with some truly incredible people. I am sad to say goodbye, but I look forward to hearing of everyone’s future journeys. If all of this wasn’t enough, I was surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural scenery that I have seen. From crystal clear rivers, to vast sand dunes, and thriving marshes, Oregon’s coast has it all. I fell in love with this place and I plan to be back in the future.

under: Uncategorized

Week 8: Mud and Sun

Posted by: | August 18, 2016 | 3 Comments |

This week started off early, 4 am to be exact. After noticing we were starting to lose our minds in the office, my mentors let my officemate and I off of desk duty for the day to get some field work experience. We assisted with recovering and replacing nutrient samples in a kelp bed in a section of the Yaquina Bay mud flats. We were up before the sun to take advantage of the low tide.

Fun in the mud!

Fun in the mud!

It was a great time, squelching across the mudflat, trying to watch the sunrise while at the same time making sure not standing in one place too long and risk getting stuck in the knee-deep mud. 

Later in the week I went to help out with another sea star wasting survey. This time we were at the Otter Rock Marine Reserve. The tide pools that morning held all sorts of cool critters. There were the usual purple urchins and green anemones along with some more rare finds including a blood star, a couple of different types of nudibranchs and some lined chitons. We measured and noted the condition of over 100 sea stars. Most of the stars we found were a small, six-legged species however we also found a good number of large ochre stars. 

I did still spend a lot of my time in the office this week working on my research despite the field opportunities. I have been working on getting my presentation and poster ready for the Sea Grant Symposium. As far as my research goes, we plan to meet with the rest of the CBRAT team and come up with risk thresholds on Monday so I have values to present for decapods.

Sunrise at the Otter Rock Marine Reserve

under: Uncategorized

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