Another week of my summer Sea Grant experience has passed; I’ve reached the point where the conclusion of my internship with ODFW is in sight. I have mixed feelings of melancholy and excitement regarding this. On one hand, this has been an extraordinary experience that I’ll miss. Living on the Oregon coast, especially in a semi-isolated town like Charleston, has been like living in a different world. It’s difficult to describe, but there’s definitely an underlying subculture here that’s unlike any other I’ve previously experienced. The connection to the ocean and the importance of its resources permeates everything here. It’s one of several things I’ll miss. On the other hand, though, I look forward to sleeping in my own bed again and cooking my own meals (though the food here in the OIMB dining hall has been stellar). I look forward to the warmth and sunshine of Corvallis (it struggles to reach 65 here and is often foggy/overcast) and to being on campus at OSU once again. I know I will emerge from this experience as a changed person, and I wonder what it will feel like in a month when I look back on it all.
Speaking of looking back, I spent more time last week in front of the computer running stats, generating maps, and starting on my final presentation. The statistics are yielding some interesting differences in cockles between the two survey sites. This is encouraging, because one site is within a reserve where the taking of clams is prohibited, and another site is outside the reserve where clams are harvested at least semi-regularly, so we would expect to see some differences in the data. We’re going to have a closer look at the characteristics of the data (normality and equal variance) to determine if parametric stat tests will be reliable. So far we’ve been using non-parametrics, based mainly on suggestions made by the stats software. However, parametric tests can be more powerful when all the underlying assumptions are met, and we don’t want to rely completely on the software to guide our decisions. Furthermore, some of the non-parametric test results seem to contradict each other, and we’re not sure why. It would take too much writing for me to explain it here, but suffice to say the results, despite being interesting and encouraging, have still prompted us to examine the data a bit more and assess our stat methods.
Data analysis has been one of the biggest challenges for me in the past weeks, especially when it comes to analyzing graphs. I’ll take a look at a graph and am able to interpret what it’s saying, but applying the interpretation to the bigger picture with respect to cockle population dynamics and providing answers to questions about “why this” and “how come that” is more challenging. I think it probably has something to do with my lack of in-depth knowledge about the biology of shellfish and the fishery industry that harvests them. I’ve thus been digging into past research in an attempt to gain deeper understanding of cockle population dynamics.
Last Thursday I stopped by the office of Jamie Doyle who is the Sea Grant outreach representative at OIMB. We had a nice conversation about what I’ve been doing over the summer, my interests, and future plans. We talked some about Oregon Sea Grant and the role she plays and future opportunities. It was good to have the chat.
I’ll be helping out with some red sea urchin surveys this week, which I think may involve going out on a fishing vessel. It may be dependent on the weather. We’ve been getting a lot of fog lately, and visibility has been zero. Thus for safety reasons we may not be going out. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. It would be nice to get out into the field one last time before my internship concludes. We’ll see. I will be spending additional time this week dialing in the stats for the cockle surveys and working on my final presentation.
Keep your eyes open, I may have more photos to share as well.