July 31, 2019:
I’m sitting at my desk in the office right now absorbing the fact that it’s already Week 7; one more blink and I’ll be sitting on the plane flying home before I know it. As my time as a Sea Grant Summer Scholar is slowly wrapping up, I’ve been getting waves of realization and urgency; I only have 3 weeks left in Oregon and an infinite amount of places I still want to see and explore in town! 10 weeks isn’t enough time when you’ve already gotten so attached to the people and experiences you’ve made in this awesome Newport life.
This past week was absolutely amazing—I went on a 3-day camping trip in Central Oregon with the other Scholars! By now you’ve probably already read the other Scholars’ blogs about Tacovore (the absolute best taco place in ~the WORLD~) and how we began AND concluded our weekend trip at the restaurant. (Yes, we went twice, and yes we each ordered the same thing each time, and yes we basically stripped the restaurant clean of their flan and vegan blueberry shortbread). It’s a jackpot of a restaurant and I can only hope that all future Scholars christen their camping trip with Tacovore and make it an annual tradition.
Before I move on to the work-related segment of this blog, I CANNOT forget to mention the single greatest dessert discovery that was made this past weekend. It was the love child of Honour’s package of Oreos and Hannah’s supply of Reese’s cups: a Hershey’s chocolate, Oreo, Reese’s Peanut Butter S’MOREEEE!!! I will leave the pic below and say no more.
As if the weekend couldn’t have gotten any better, I came back to work and immediately hopped on the boat to SMURF! I absolutely love SMURF-ing and am convinced I could do it every day for the rest of my life and never get bored or tired of it. We also happened to see 10 different gray whales, and one of them breached and flopped their fluke 30 FEET away from one of our SMURF moorings while I was in the water! Super cool experience. For those who may have forgotten or haven’t have the chance to read my previous posts, a SMURF stands for the Standardized Monitoring Unit for the Recruitment of Fishes. In this case, we are specifically catching juvenile rockfish, and the data we collect helps create holistic fish stock projections for coastal waters inside and outside the Oregon Marine Reserves. Each snorkel SMURF-ing session is concluded by measuring the fish and categorizing them by species—there are some that are tinier than my pinky finger!!
Once we finish categorizing and measuring the fish, they’re sent off to the lab where their otoliths (tiny ear bones) are harvested and studied under a microscope. Otoliths are neat in that they’re comprised of multiple banded growth rings (just like trees!), which carry a wealth of information on a fish’s life in terms of migration and dietary patterns. The otolith rings are counted to approximate the age of each fish, and the microchemistry of the rings are studied to gauge what food sources the fish have been eating and how much of it is eaten per day! It still blows my mind that I’m lucky enough to participate in these processes that supplement front-running marine research with the most amazing and knowledgeable people every day. Gotta pinch myself at times!
I’m getting ready for another round of low tide series, and that means…more Sea Star Surveys! I’ll be leading two more intertidal field days at the end of the week at both Otter Rock and Cascade Head. A special shout-out to Autumn, Ariana, and Suhn for being rock star volunteers at SSWD monitoring. They’ve been coming along each time I lead the surveys and are such an amazing help, so (if they’re reading this) THANK YOU x1000! :) Looking forward to their help in the field again and getting able to work in the tide pools! Till next time,