This week, I added a new element to my job as I started conducting intercept interviews. These interviews basically consist of me walking up to visitors at the sites where I conduct pressure counts and asking them if they would be willing to take a survey on the place that they are visiting. The survey is very short and has many questions about distance traveled, travel cost, and opinions and general knowledge on marine reserves. Although the survey is very brief, it still allows ODFW to extract a lot of data about the type of people that visit the marine reserves and how they would be affected by the implementation of the reserves. The data can also be further analyzed for impacts on the local economy.
So far I think the surveys have gone much better than I was expecting. I was able to fit in 33 surveys over two days, and I have hardly ever been turned down. It’s so nice to be able to talk to people while I am in the field, and most of all I think it has given me an appreciation for being able to live on the coast this summer, because almost everyone gushes to me how much they love the area and how far they have traveled to enjoy it! I have even surveyed people from as far away as Germany and France! I also encounter the occasional odd person,which helps make the day more interesting. One man tried to tell me all about his 5,000 year old pinniped tooth that he had found in the area previously and bragged that Cape Perpetua is the most bio-diverse place on the planet…I will have to do some fact-checking on that one haha. Another man lectured me that the marine reserves won’t solve the problem, because the problem is the ethics of the humans species….I just stand there and nod for these conversations.
I now wear a brown ODFW jacket for my job as well, which resulted in my question-load doubling because many people mistake me for a ranger. Luckily, I spend so much time in the area that I feel like I can answer most of the questions! I have learned that creating and conducting surveys for social science is actually very difficult, but luckily my mentor has had a lot of practice so I can avoid a lot of first time mistakes. All of the answers for each questions must be coded numerically so that the data can be quantitatively analyzed. I must also work hard to avoid bias while I am giving the survey, so when people try to have a conversation during the survey or pry me for more answers, I have to keep them focused. I am hoping that I can get in about 100+ surveys during my time at Cape Perpetua to give ODFW a really good idea about how people interact with the areas slated to become marine reserves.