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A Few Words of Sentiment

Posted by: | August 17, 2017 | 1 Comment |

In a flurry of completing my materials for our final symposium, I have sorely neglected my blog. Perhaps it was for the best, as the past few days have brought with them a bright and cheery outlook.

Tomorrow is the big day! By noon my fellow Sea Grant scholars and I will have gathered at the Hatfield Marine Science Center for our final research presentation.

Poster presentation tomorrow from 2:30-3:30pm…wish us luck!

For once my nerves seemed to have checked their bags at the door. Perhaps it is the adequate preparation or simply the brilliant company that makes my mind peaceful in the face of public speaking. It is amazing the degree of familiarity that can be attained amongst peers in only nine weeks. Though I am eager to begin a new semester of classes, I will miss the interactions and relationships I have built here.

Though infrequently mentioned in the recalling of experiences such as this, some of my favorite memories have been those made at home. My roommates are characters.

Women of science.

Upon arriving, I knew I would be surrounded with inquisitive minds, but I did not expect them to be paired with such great humor. From broken hands and workout rants, to an enthusiasm for Game of Thrones like I’ve never seen, my roommates are a blast. Many a night was spent discussing topics both lighthearted and heavy in nature. I am filled with gratitude for the respect each one of them has shown towards themselves and others.

During my undergraduate education, many professors have mentioned challenges women still face in populating the scientific field. Though this may be the case, the strength and confidence with which my roommates and coworkers approach their research is inspiring. It is refreshing to be surrounded by such diligence and enthusiasm.

Years into the future, I am sure we will look back fondly on the days we all packed like sardines into bunk beds in the name of science.

Though I hate to cut it short, it is time to practice presentations! I can’t wait to hear the findings of my peers. I’ve been direly missing statistics. In closing, Oregon is amazing. I can confidently say that I will leave here a better and more well rounded person than when I came.

Day one of my backyard garden.

Day three yielded sprouts!

Day five…at this rate I will see them bloom.

under: sea_cof

Much Ado About… Everything

Posted by: | August 17, 2017 | No Comment |

As part of wrapping up my summer here with the Coastal Management Program my mentor suggested I make a list of everything related to the King Tides project that still needs to be completed. Unfortunately, due to babies being born and vacations being had, we didn’t have all the right people in the right place at the right time, but alas! The work will still [hopefully] get done. The photo project is also an annual and ongoing initiative therefore there will always be SOMETHING to do.

Seeing as that I am one post behind on my blogging I figured I’d use this to kill two birds with one stone. Or as a vegan would say: cut two carrots with one knife (tho that seems like a much easier feat to accomplish).

 La da da da data!

(please play sound clip for reference)

Currently all the data we have (location, direction, time, photographer name) about the photos on this iteration of the map is in a different format from the future data that will be generated via our new survey platform, Survey123. My hope was to have access to this data sooner than my last week and really have time to clean it up, but now we’ve done what we could to put a dent in it and will take this as a chance to learn about what should be done moving forward.

We have about 415 photos that need to be individually viewed and placed at their correct location because they were uploaded and plotted without a lat/long. These photos come from a batch of 1065 photos spanning from 2009 to 2015. These points, along with the others on the current map containing all the data from the 2015/16 and 2016/17 (about 1,800 total), will then be combined to form a final map with EVERYTHING FINALLY IN ITS PLACE! I plan to check back as the season approaches to see if progress is made towards this awesome end goal.

Once there is a final map the photos can be re-downloaded and placed into the corresponding albums on Flickr since we are moving away from the jumbled photo stream. Tip for Flickr users: you can’t add other people’s photos to your oh-so-beautifully organized albums /: A problem we encountered early on that may be resolved some time in the future.


As the season approaches it’s important to keep people engaged and up to date with what we’re doing. Continuing to post to Instagram, Twitter, and FB will help remind people of the upcoming season and encourage them to participate.

I’ve been able to schedule a handful of Facebook posts starting now and finishing all the way after the end of the season in January (who knew you could do that!) They include links to our social media platforms and helpful pages on our website. Directing people to specific info instead of the entire website will hopefully draw their attention get them to keep coming back.

Meg is awesome with the Twitter account while Instagram was always my thing, so I’m drafting a bunch of Instagram posts for her so that they’re ready to once the season picks up! One thing I’ve done is chopped up the video I made for the site into little bits that can be posted one at a time. The longer video is on our FAQ page, but if you want to check it out I’ve linked it below!


(another great reference that I hope you’re all familiar with)

One of the last things to be done as the season approaches is to send out all the emails to our updated PR list. Overtime I gathered information about popular Oregon photographers and Public Works people who may be interested in participating in the project. They are two very different groups of people but both are relevant! We’re hoping to get some great stock images from the photographers while the Public Works people may be more familiar with the infrastructure damage and erosion that comes with the King Tides.

In the end I’m hoping another intern can come in quite soon and pick up where I left off. During the season there will be much more work to be done and this summer we’ve built a great foundation.

Cheers to Snoop Dogg, Blue’s Clues, and my second to last blog post. The end (and apocECLIPSE) is near!

under: sea_haye, Summer Scholars, Uncategorized

I’ve fallen behind. Oh no. These past couple weeks have been an absolute whirlwind, as you’ll soon see. So I’ll break them down a little bit into two blog posts to make them more digestible for your reading material. Before I begin, I want to briefly discuss the post of one of my colleagues. In his recent post entitled, An Office, Cinnamon Buns and… Field Work??, Neal Tyson spends a full paragraph discussing the merits of Fishtails Café’s cinnamon roll deserves this much attention, right? WRONG. I consider myself to be somewhat of a connoisseur of breakfast pastries. Growing up, my cousin and I feasted ourselves on Walmart bakery donuts every time I visited him. While studying abroad in the Galápagos, I must have spent over one hundred dollars purchasing one specific type of donut from the local bakery. Each one coast $1.50, you do the math. It’s fair to say that I know my way around a cinnamon roll. And let me tell you, so does Fishtails Café. From the moment you feast your eyes upon it to the moment you take the last bite, it’s as if nothing else matters in the word. Not the calorie count, or the sugar content, or the years this cinnamon roll is probably taking off your life. During this time, everything is bliss. Neal and I have already hatched some schemes to get rich off of selling this cinnamon bun if this whole scientist thing doesn’t work out. Honestly, if you try it, you’ll understand.

But I digress, when I wasn’t stuffing my face with cinnamon rolls, I was extremely busy the past few weeks. If you recall, when we left off I had just returned from an amazing camping trip at Crater Lake. Let me begin by elaborating a little bit on that trip. It rocked. Leaving work slightly early on a Friday afternoon, I piled into a small car for a nice five-hour road trip with some fellow Sea Grant Scholars and REUs here at Hatfield Marine Science Center. The Airbnb where we were staying was, interesting. It was a farm run by two guys living out of a school bus on the property and we slept on a dirt road. Actually, I slept in the car because it turns out you can’t really fit five fully grown adults in a three-person tent. Undeterred by our living conditions, we set out the next day to see what this whole Crater Lake thing was all about.


Spectacular. Kind of like the Redwoods, you can’t fully capture the beauty of Crater Lake in a photo or with words. It’s entrancing treading water and looking down to see nothing but the deepest of blues as far as your eye can see. In fact, it’s a little frightening swimming out in the open water of the Lake. At nearly 2000 feet deep, there’s a whole lot of nothing below you… Along with the lake we did some swimming in the nearby Rogue River (much to the chagrin of the nearby fishermen) and feasted on local cuisine. All and all a fantastic weekend.


This was followed up by a very short but productive work week. First on my agenda was working on my final project for the summer. However, prior to that, I needed to decide what my final project for the summer was going to be. As you may have observed, my position this summer has been quite diverse. Instead of focusing on one research question and devoting all of my time and energy to that, I have been all over the place. It has been an incredible real-world experience where I feel that my efforts have truly been put to use in benefitting the goals of the ODFW Marine Reserves Program.

Redfish Rocks, one of the Marine Reserves I’ll be discussing in my presentation.

Instead of just an internship for the sake of another category on the resume, this summer has been all about really experiencing what it’s like to work in the field of marine ecology. It’s been fantastic, but at the end I still need a nice final presentation to wrap it all up. I won’t go into much detail on this project now, but with the help of my mentors I eventually came to the decision of presenting on the difference in fish recruitment inside and outside Oregon’s Marine Reserves. This project will use the data we’ve gathered from the SMURFs throughout this summer (remember what a SMURF is?).

Along with working on my final project, I also spent a lot of time writing my latest installment of the ODFW SMURF blog. This was originally just a small task for me to take on over the summer. Each week I’d summarize the weekly SMURFing outing and provide a couple fun facts about the SMURF team or SMURFing in general. However, I found out that I love writing these posts, and the mini project has escalated substantially. Now every post I write includes awesome information that has been proofread by the entire SMURF team of collaborators, which includes ODFW scientists as well as Oregon State professors. The result is a pretty sweet post each week chalk full of SMURF science and plenty of SMURF puns. I kind of can’t help myself with the SMURF puns, there’s just so much to work with there! I highly suggest you check them out at http://oregonmarinereserves.com/news/. If you know me and read one, you’ll probably be able to distinguish my writing voice. I can’t help but put my own stamp on scientific communication.


Lastly, I mentioned that the week was a short one. This was because I took Thursday and Friday off to fly all the way back home to Ohio. Why travel twenty-five hundred miles to spend just one weekend back home? My sister got married! This has nothing to do with my Sea Grant experience, really, but I’m still going to give a brief shoutut to Maggie’s wedding. I love the heck out of Maggie. She and my eldest sister, Elise (whom I also love the heck out of), never passed up on an opportunity to torment me with annoying songs or nicknames, but they also taught me a whole lot and shaped me into who I am today. On August 5th I watched Maggie marry an awesome man. I’ve gotten to know Josh well over the past four years and he’s a man I’m overjoyed to call my brother. At the wedding, they were so happy. I was so happy. Everyone was so happy. Words fail yet again. I’d wish them a happy future together, but I already know they’ll have one regardless of what I type here. So all I’ll say is congratulation Mrs. and Mr. Keegan, you deserve every ounce of joy that marriage brings you.

Jeezum crow doesn’t it look beautiful? I’m the groomsman third from the right. Thankfully this photo’s far enough away that you can’t see my very manly tears.

On that note, I’ll leave you. More will be forthcoming shortly about my adventures of the past week or so. Stay tuned.

under: sea_cle

This summer I have been interning with the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) contributing to my mentor’s ongoing research on the ecological role of oyster aquaculture in estuaries. As part of my mentor’s work, he maintains relationships with the oyster growers at our sites, who are actually some of our biggest stakeholders in supporting the continuance of the work that we do. This initially took me by surprise, as agriculture and environmentalism are often pinned against one another. As we continue to hear about pesticides contaminating our water and soil (https://water.usgs.gov/edu/pesticidesgw.html ), rainforests being destroyed for cattle ranching (http://globalforestatlas.yale.edu/amazon/land-use/cattle-ranching ), and monoculture bringing the demise of domestic honeybees (https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/honey-bees-and-monoculture-nothing-to-dance-about/), agriculture is an easy culprit to pin many of our environmental woes on. I, myself, have been vegetarian for the past four years in order to reduce my environmental impact and “vote with my dollar” as they say (http://time.com/4266874/vegetarian-diet-climate-change/ ).

So, when I had the chance, during our most recent field trip to Washington, to meet the senior biologist of a local Washington oyster growing company, I was pleasantly surprised and excited by the experience.

Oysters scattered in the mud: on-bottom oyster aquaculture– one of the culture types I have been studying this summer

Aptly named Longline Aquaculture– the other type of aquaculture I have been studying

It was lunch time during one of our days out in the field and my mentor told us (us= myself, our lab tech, and graduate student) that a friend of his from one of the oyster companies was coming to meet up with us for a bit. During the lunch, we discussed issues such as the use of pesticides on burrowing shrimp (which loosen the mud causing the oysters to sink into it and suffocate), the difference between the value of punishing environmental harm and the value of preventing degradation before it starts, and the age-old question in ecology: what is natural? If we want to conserve or restore something, what is the true natural state of the system that we want to restore it to?

It was exciting getting to meet and talk with an employee of agriculture who so passionately spoke of the same issues that I am concerned with. I’ll be honest, between my degree in Environmental Science, the like-minded environmentalists I surround myself with, and media today, my education on agriculture has been very one-sided, lacking near any perspective from the agriculture side. Of course, there are (huge) differences between industrial agriculture and smaller-scale farmers (like the oyster growers), however it is still comforting to see environmental concern at any level of agriculture.

I am grateful for the opportunity I have had this summer to see first-hand the agricultural process, especially for a non-vegetarian product, and humanize the farmers behind it. Most of the growers in the bays we work in truly love their bays and want to minimize their impact.

Boating off to one of our study sites in Willapa Bay (a rare sunny morning)

under: Uncategorized

This last week has felt very relativistic. I’m not sure what happened to all of the hours, which depression in the fabric of space-time continuum I rolled into. No one went to the field, every one retreating to their respective labs and offices. Politics continued to get crazier, NPR hard to listen to on the morning commute. Fred Meyer staged their eclipse survival supplies by the front door of every store. It even rained on Sunday! I continue to feel like a slinky on an escalator; the end near, while never quite arriving.

My proposal to stay on at the EPA as a volunteer and continue my work with respiration rates has been approved. I feel good. I have one more week to go in this internship, and then I’m on my own with the BOD bottles, data sheets, and the strange state of informed ignorance that doing science puts me in. September is coming, a time of beginnings and ends. 12 years ago, September found me with a canteen and a rifle patrolling a New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Ten years ago, I held back the tears as the bus drove away from the barracks, taking me and my brothers to an airfield and Iraq. If my old sergeant major could see me now, he’d probably shake his head. “Jennings, how’d you end up a geek, a fish-squeezer, a civilian?” “It must have been my people skills, sergeant major.”

For the last several days, my main task has been the construction of a poster for our final presentation this Friday. I was somewhat surprised to find that no one enjoys writing them. From the number of posters mounted along the walls of every hallway in the building, you might think otherwise. Many folks told me that they enjoy the process of preparing papers for publication, even the revision process, yet there was universal disdain of science posters. The results of my informal survey pointed to several issues: the lack of space to properly fit relevant items, the difficulty in keeping fonts and formatting from going screwy at the printer’s, and the seemingly impossible demand to turn quantitative analysis into sophisticated cave drawings with minimal text and maximum cool factor. Despite the odds, I managed to complete my poster by the deadline (Monday), and I took advantage of the many excellent examples around me to make the best poster I have ever made! To be honest, it’s only the second one I have ever made, but it’s a significant improvement over the last. I found excellent conceptual diagrams to use and minimized confusing figures or charts.

It feels good to make something that will be manifest in meat-space reality. It will be a tangible thing, unlike so many things that I make as a student. It’s a strange process, being a student who remembers mimeographs and typewriters: I conduct research and reading digitally, type a paper digitally, submit the assignment digitally, and look for my reward, a number in the “grades” tab on a website that means “good job” or “uh oh”. The dominance of the digital realm sometimes leaves me feeling empty, bereft of any proof that I have been, that I have felt, that I am here on planet Earth doing things. Posters erupt from the binary and claim their place among the living, reminding me that we are still just sophisticated animals that need to stare at things together, point and go “Hmmmm. What?”

under: Uncategorized


Posted by: | August 15, 2017 | 2 Comments |

I briefly mentioned in my last blog post that a couple of weeks ago I went to the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston for one of their summer seminars. NOAA Marine ecologist Robert Pitman of the Southwest Marine Fisheries Science Center was presenting his research on killer whales in the Antarctic, and man, did I learn a lot. I have focused on terrestrial mammals for most of my degree, primarily domesticated species, and therefore have an elementary (if that, even) supply of knowledge about marine mammals. It’s kind of a shame and a bit embarrassing; I have lived in a coastal state for almost four years now and haven’t really realized how interested I am in the ocean and its inhabitants until this past year. It started when I began working for the Estuary Program in Morro Bay, watching the sea otters float past from our office and listening to the sea lions barking on the dock throughout the day. The combination of my insecurity about not having a ton of formal education in marine biology and probably the apprehension of breaking the news to my family (located in a landlocked state) that I might stay in ocean/coastal science forever has prevented me from seriously realizing that this is indeed what I am interested in. And yet, this summer it feels as though I’ve done quite a bit of catching up.

That’s why I was eager to see Robert’s lecture, and it also turned out to be a source of some significant connections with other people in the whale community. I met Joy Primrose, the president of The American Cetacean Society’s Oregon Chapter, mostly because I said I liked her tote bag, which was adorned with a Lisa-Frank-meets-Christian-Lassen style orca pattern. She was telling me about a photographer based out of Portland who has given whale photography workshops and that he just recently did some work out of Port Orford. Upon telling me we should connect, I realized she was talking about Erik Urdahl, one of the photographers that Dustin and I worked with a few weeks ago. Erik started The Spout, an organization dedicated to connecting people with whales and promoting their conservation.

I immediately emailed him asking if he is offering any more whale photography workshops, and he said no, but instead offered to take Dustin and I out to Depoe Bay for a casual whale watching excursion. He kindly lent me his telephoto lens and we took a Zodiac with Gary at The Whale’s Tail out on the water. You have to realize, I’ve never been near a whale. I saw a grey whale spout maybe twice from far away on a boat in Mexico last winter, but that hardly counts. In short, there was a lot of shrieking and profane language, because how else do you contain that kind of excitement? As Erik says, the excitement was up the wazoo. I also got to (yes, my use of the words “got to” are to emphasize what a privileged this was) experience the fragrant scent of whale ‘breath’ for the first time.



That weekend, because I clearly didn’t get enough, I met Joy at the Devil’s Punchbowl lookout/Otter Rock Marine Reserve to help her survey visitors about their demographic information, their awareness of Oregon’s Marine reserves, and their knowledge about whales. Most of the visitors were not from Oregon; in fact, most of the ones I talked to at least were from the Midwest and hadn’t ever seen a whale. Some had never even seen the Pacific Ocean. Thankfully, a lone grey whale spent the majority of the morning meandering between Gull Rock and a large kelp forest a few hundred meters south, and it showed off its flukes many times for a number of excited people. We also may have seen a harbor porpoise! We then visited Depoe Bay and watched 6 or 7 whales surface over and over while they fed on mycids inside the bay. Later that day, we went back to Joy’s house and I bought this book and the most recently updated poster of cetaceans of the world.

The rest of the weekend was spent rushing to Boardman again for the sunset, exploring rivers with the roommates, and meeting some horses. Another unreal week down.




under: Uncategorized

This week in the office didn’t seem to have much spare time. It was mostly spent wrapping up loose ends on the communications side and doing background research for the Sea Grant final presentation (that is on Friday?? Man this flew by quick). It was so busy that there was only enough time for two cinnamon bun break trips this week at Fishtail Cafe!

Before we go any further in this blog, these buns must be discussed. Fishtail Cafe is in the Aquarium Village, located roughly a 45 second walk from the Marine Reserves office. Which makes it super convenient when you’re running low on coffee and can’t be bothered to make more back at your apartment. It all started on a normal day probably 4-5 weeks ago now… We had heard from the other ODFW employees that Fishtail was a pretty alright cafe, not bad but nothing special. I had eaten there once and had exactly that experience. But as I walked in to get a refill of coffee, one of the waitresses walked by me with a cinnamon bun, glazed over with icing, that barely fit on their mid-sized desert plates. I don’t reckon I could have palmed it with one hand. At that moment I knew I had to have one. The waitress explained that they make them in house every week and they almost always run out. She heated mine up and brought it out, making sure to let me know that there was extra butter if I needed it. Let me assure you this bun did not need butter. Each bite just melts in your mouth and the icing just tops it off. In proper cinnamon bun fashion, each bite gets better as you go around the spiral. With the last center bite sending you straight to heaven (or to the hospital with the amount of butter they must use in each one). Without a doubt the top 3 cinnamon buns I’ve ever had have been the last 3 from Fishtail Cafe. Who would have guessed the Aquarium Village in Newport Oregon would have the GOAT of cinnamon buns? I messaged Zach and told him he needed to experience this for himself. From then on it has become tradition. They know us by name and refer to us as their “boys” or “honey”. We don’t even have to wait to be seated, we just go to our same spot every time! Its fantastic. This week it was our favorite waitress’ birthday. We gave her big ol’ hugs and told her how much we would miss this place and their cinnamon buns. They even said they would hang up a picture of us if we get one framed, proper regulars! If you don’t believe me take a look at this bad boy (cinnamon bun, not Zach):

At $4.50 each, these buns have been a dangerous investment for both my buns and wallet. 

Now that the important stuff is out of the way… The large majority of the remaining time has been spent in the office doing various office activities:

  1. I’ve created a new photo organization protocol for the Marine Reserves team. Now all of our photos from research, community events and landscape photos can be nicely organized in separate folders on the server. Yay!
  2. I worked with the ecological monitoring team to fact check all of the blog and social media posts I’ve written over the past 8 weeks. Now almost completely edited they should be ready to go out into the world! Stay tuned and subscribe to our newsletter at: http://oregonmarinereserves.com/ (One last shameless plug)
  3. Read a bunch of articles on campaign planning, evaluation and the importance of community engagement in preparation for my poster and presentation. Next weeks blog post will probably be on that subject.

AND AS IF I ALMOST FORGOT. YA BOY WAS IN THE FIELD THIS WEEK. As much as I enjoy the process of communications, I love to be out in the field interacting with people and the environment. Doing that kind of work and being in those situations are what drives so many people to this field. This summer I had high hopes that most of the work that we would be doing would be community engagement out in the field. We got a taste of it in the first couple of weeks and since then it has just been office work. Which is important, just not nearly as exciting. So when the opportunity came to get out in the rocky intertidal zone and survey sea stars for wasting disease… I was 100% on board. So bright and early, we threw the ODFW rubber boots, bibs, gloves and measuring tapes in the back of the ODFW truck and headed toward Otter Rock Marine Reserve. After a quick stroll to the rocky intertidal we set up shop and got into some science. Searching through kelp and tidal pools just gets your inner kid so excited.


Zach and Nina down and dirty in the intertidal


When ya boy gets out of the office


Hello? Did someone say Sea Grant product placement?


Lesson #1 from the Rocky Intertidal: Surveying is all about getting comfortable

Getting to spend the whole morning with wicked friends doing wicked science! There isn’t much more you can ask for. It was some much needed time in nature to get you mentally ready to take on presentation week.


Last note: Alexis partaking in the epic program Take 3. It’s a program a friend of a friend started in Australia that is a campaign for awareness of trash in our oceans. It’s super easy and gets people involved by taking 3 pieces of trash with you whenever you go to the oceans, waterways or anywhere. It’s an epic program and I hope it starts catching on in America. Find out more at www.take3.org!


under: Uncategorized

North Coast Best Coast

Posted by: | August 13, 2017 | 2 Comments |

Stop One: Nehalem

This week I was lucky enough to take two trips up the North Coast for both work and fun. The first place I headed was Nehalem to get some pictures of the area at an average high tide. During the most extreme King Tide events the streets of Nehalem can end up slightly flooded from the Nehalem River rising, like this:

Nehalem during a King Tide

My goal was to gather a handful of the pictures from our Flickr account that have been taken in Nehalem over the past six years and duplicate them at average tide, like this:

Nehalem during an average high tide

The drive was long but I enjoyed getting to see more of Oregon, especially since I’ll be leaving the program a week early to start school. I was disappointed that the shop with vegan ice cream was closed (along with most other things on Mondays and Tuesdays up there) but I did find this cute little spot to enjoy the river and eat some fries before heading home. Little did I know we’d make our way back through Nehalem the same weekend and I’d get to try that ice cream after all.

Riverside N’ Chips

Stop Two: Astoria and Seaside

A childhood favorite of mine.

Although Friday morning I woke up feeling under the weather and not very optimistic about the day it turned into the beginning to a great weekend. That night the group convinced me to head over to Rogue and check out the “Dogs & Brews” event. There were pups galore and it’s always good for me to get out of the dorm and socialize. Unfortunately I can’t find my camera adapter, but when I do I’ll add the video of a wonderful husky named Orion that our entire group fell in love with.

The next day we headed up to a motel in Astoria in anticipation of the volleyball tournament a few of the interns had entered in. I discovered that Astoria is where The Goonies was set and filmed and was SO EXCITED to see the Goonie house until we got to the driveway. Whoever owns it now has a sign up asking people to stay away. Party poopers. I was still thrilled to be in the area and see all the references to the film in little shops around town. We had a great meal at an Indian restaurant, got caught in the rain, found a random piano, and soaked in the hot tub for a bit before crashing out.

The next morning we drove down to Seaside to watch Zach, Megan, Gabby, and Sawyer play in the volleyball tournament. I’ll let Zach tell you more about that one though because he was one of the true stars of the show. Overall it was a great beach day but definitely made me miss the California beaches of my childhood. Seaside reminded me so much of Santa Cruz and all the time I spent there growing up.

The Home Stretch

With my departure being next Tuesday I am officially beginning my last full week here as a scholar. I am anxious to be back and FINALLY settle into a place with some permanence. For the last two years it always seemed like I was packing a bag to go somewhere, whether it was for the weekend or for the semester. I’m excited to have a steady home and some HOT weather!

The last big thing that I’m working on is a video for the Oregon King Tides website. It’s nothing too fancy but I’ve really enjoyed putting it all together and hope you all have a chance to see it before the end of summer! Cheers to the last week and to my favorite weekend yet.

View from Crest Motel in Astoria.

under: sea_haye, Summer Scholars

Enzo & Hank

Posted by: | August 13, 2017 | 1 Comment |

It’s week 8 and I’ve made 2 wonderful furry friends- Enzo the Border Collie and Hank the Australian Shepherd.
They are the family dogs of the Groth family, whom I have been house sitting for since the start of the month. Scott, one of my mentors at ODFW is ironically vacationing in our hometown of Rochester, NY, and asked me before he left to take care of their house, dogs, bearded dragon lizard, fish, and plants for about two weeks. He and his wife showed me around the place and gave me the run down on my duties. They put me up in their lovely guest room and gave me full use of their Prius and all the amenities (including hot tub and even more importantly, food and laundry ~lol). Not a bad gig, huh?

I quickly learned that taking care of a home isn’t as easy as it seems, and since I had a lot of things to remember to do on any given day (fetch the mail, give the dog his meds, etc) I resourcefully made a spreadsheet calendar to check off daily tasks- as any scientist would do. But really, the responsibilities have been a breeze, especially given the fact that through this whole thing I’ve gotten to play with doggies!

Hank is an old boy, he is almost fully deaf and blind. But he’s a real sweetie and takes his meds just fine morning and night (disguised in a piece of cheese or peanut butter of course). He’s a simple guy who very much enjoys food, and has mastered the new doggie door they bought right before their trip. In the past week he’s been uncharacteristically energetic, running to the door with Enzo when I utter that coveted phrase “You wanna go out?”. Walks with the two of them are funny because I’ve basically got Enzo on one leash pulling up front an Hank on the other slowly moseying behind, stopping to smell all the smelly smells. And, I may be crazy, but I swear Hank can sometimes see where I throw the ball. But it’s about 2% of the time, and even when I drop it at his paws it usually goes unnoticed. It remains a mystery.

Enzo, the younger, hyperactive half of the pair has been my real buddy the past couple weeks. He’s the cutest lil bugger, who greets me at the door and sleeps at my bedside. We’ve been on a few adventures to different parks and hikes after work and on weekends, and he makes the big house feel a lot cozier. He’s got these crazy eyes that are just hysterical, and his deeply ingrained herding skills come out anytime a ball is in the mix. He’s the fastest dog I’ve ever seen, and is relentless at fetch (I call it “fetch”but really he only brings the ball 50%-75% of the way back to me, so it’s exercise for the both of us). We only stop playing when I’ve decided he’s definitely too tired and needs a break, if it were up to him he’d run till his feet bled.
It’s been so nice having them around, they are the highlight of my day. I’m going to have puppy withdrawals (and miss the use of the car) when Scott gets back on Wednesday.

As for work I spent a whoooole lot of time on the water this week with Joe conducting our native oyster surveys- more on that later (maybe even with some results!).

I’ve been applying for jobs and internships and fervently trying to find a balance between pursuing my career goals- which right now pretty much keeps me poor and away from home-  and what my heart wants- which is to spend some time with my family and friends and save money. I actually just completed a very successful interview for an AmeriCorps position with the Coos Watershed Association, which is the perfect balance of the outreach/education and science in the form of fish biology. But, it would require me to make the leap of moving across the country at the end of the month (!!!) and making barely enough money to break even for 11 months. I’m quite conflicted, but I am also excited by all the opportunities I’ve been finding.

Anyway, here are some cute dog pictures.

Enzo at Blacklock Point (such a good poser)

Hank dozin'

Enzo giving crazy eyes

The ball literally sank... was not expecting that



under: Summer Scholars

This past week was devoted to the August fish seining in South Slough. Since I already spent one blog post describing the process (http://wp.me/p64Blw-1cd), I figured that for my blog post this week I would highlight some of the fish species that we have been encountering during the seining.

The Pacific staghorn sculpin (Leptocottus armatus) is commonly found in South Slough. It has spiky projection on its gill cover that it can raise when threatened. They also sometimes vibrate when threatened. Here’s a tiny staghorn sculpin:


And a bigger one:


Many different species of perch live in the South Slough, including Shiner perch (Cymatogaster agregata), White seaperch (Phanerodon furcatus), Walleye surfperch (Hyperprosopon argenteum), silver surfperch (Hyperprosopon ellipticum) and Pile perch (Rhacochilus vacca).

This week we caught a striped seaperch (Embiotoca lateralis):


We also get a few different species of flatfish (fish that live on the seafloor and swim on their side, with both eyes on one side of their body). English sole (Parophrys vetulus) are most common, but there are also Speckled sanddab (Citharichthys stigmaeus), and starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus). We got a huge starry flounder this week, which was really unusual.

A tiny English sole:


And a starry flounder:


We also caught a bay pipefish (Syngnathus leptorhynchus). Bay pipefish live in eelgrass beds, and their bodies mimic a strand of eelgrass. Pipefish are related to seahorses, and the males incubate the eggs, just like seahorses.


Juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) also appear pretty frequently. There are both wild Chinook and hatchery-raised Chinook. We can tell wild-born from hatchery-raised Chinook from the adipose fin (a small fin behind the dorsal fin): hatchery Chinook have their adipose fin clipped, while wild Chinook do not.


It’s been so much fun seining and learning about the different fish in the South Slough this summer. I’m going to miss it!

under: Uncategorized

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