Last week once again saw me participating in a variety of activities for ODFW. On Monday and Tuesday, we finished the summer sampling session for bay crabs in Charleston marina. We measures, weighed, and tagged 325 (±) Red Rock crabs (Cancer productus) and 350 (±) Dungeness crabs (Cancer magister) in a week’s time (no tagging for these). The next sampling will occur in October, well after I’m back at OSU. I detailed the methodology of the study in my last couple of posts. Here I’ll briefly mention the purpose: Red Rock crabs are native to Oregon and, although they do not provide as much meat as Dungeness crabs, they are still sought after for the table. Red Rock crabs seem to be a sustainable resource—there are no size or sex regulations governing their taking—however little research has been conducted into their life histories. The study I’ve participated in, being conducted by Sylvia Yamada of OSU, is to assess various aspects of the life histories of Red Rock crabs in the Coos Bay area: how fast they grow, how old they get, how often they molt, and their movements between sites. We took measurements for the Dungeness crabs as part of an ongoing monitoring effort by my mentor, Scott.
Wednesday was, of course, Independence Day, and OIMB sponsored a nice BBQ for all the students and interns at Sunset Bay State Park. It was a good chance to get to know the staff of OIMB and talk to some of the students about their studies. However, the highlight of the BBQ was definitely culinary: grilled oysters on the half-shell. Yum!
Thursday and Friday were occupied by shore seining for salmonids in the morning and practice sessions with GIS, ‘R’ statistical software, and Microsoft Access in the afternoons. So far the computer activities have represented the greatest challenges for me during this internship. Up until now I’ve had zero experience with any of the afore mentioned programs, and I do not find them “user-friendly” in the slightest. Scott has been very helpful in writing some skeleton instructions and providing some basic activities to help me learn, but it’s still ultimately up to me to figure it all out. My learning has been through a combination of Scott’s guidance, online tutorials, and my own exploration/experimentation with the programs. This style of learning sometimes gets frustrating, because I tend to think in linear terms and prefer to have one source of info from which to work. I also admittedly find fieldwork much more attractive and exciting than sitting in the lab in front of a computer screen. However I have had some success in learning the programs, and I know it’s good to get outside of my comfort zone and experience a new style of learning. I also realize that skills in GIS and database management are essential to being competitive in the field of Fish & Wildlife science, so I’ve committed myself to spending a block of time each day to increase my proficiency.
For the upcoming week, I look forward to beginning my heart cockle study in earnest. So far, Scott and I have conducted a sort of exploratory study where we went out and investigated some sites in the south slough of Coos Bay and took some GPS coordinates. We also measured and weighed some cockles taken by a recreational harvester. These were basically introductory sessions to give me an overview of the fieldwork and protocols. This week, however, we’ll begin in-depth sampling of heart cockles and constructing the database. Stay tuned! More details to come!