Entering August….


Typical day at the dorms

Abby had to go to a wedding in Eugene, so Ron, Micaela and I hitched a ride to explore Eugene!

We thoroughly enjoyed the Eugene Saturday Market and I got a cool rainbow trout hat!

Here’s us posing next to a sleepy Ron on the bus en route to see Inside Out in theaters. (By the way, super good movie! Go see it if you haven’t!!)


accidentally waking Ron up due to us taking pictures of him

This week on Monday, I went out with Abby and helped out ODF&W with their SMURFing surveys. I was super nervous and excited going into the day and came out with an incredibly miserable experience on the water. Abby and I went in for the first SMURF station/buoy, and I quickly had a mini panic attack and had to stop after the first station. Once I got back on the deck of the boat, I got violently sea sick and threw up throughout each subsequent station. It was super cool being able to go out in open ocean, but it’s definitely not for me hahaha. BUT, it was really cool to see Abby in such a comfortable setting. For context, Abby is on her way to getting her dive masters, and is already really used to these kinds of scenarios and settings and seeing her in the water was such a treat. She seemed so calm and in her element.
Afterwards, we came back to Newport to process the fish we caught via the SMURFs!


check out those colors!!!

Processing the fish in the lab afterwards was definitely more of my jam.

Further evidence that I’m destined for lab work.

Other work happenings….


Micaela at Wednesday donuts with my new wide-angle lens!


Labeling for dayssssss

I’ve mostly been on Excel/data work for most of the week:


note: Annie’s graham cracker snacks have been maintaining and guiding my desk side munchies towards a more manageable level


Bothering Micaela in her office

Grinding up green macro-algae samples for stable isotope studies (N15 specifically)





Some of the OSG scholars got together to watch the Grudge in the dining hall one night, so this is Abby and I imitating the Grudge girl a day later.





Bulls-eye at Bier One!!


One of the cool things about being this far along in the summer– you have enough data to actually analyze what you’ve been doing! So, after plotting the data we have accumulated from the estuary CTD/chlorophyll cruises, we found one of the extreme outliers was Alsea River.

So far, through our data analysis, we see a very clear trend across the board in all estuaries—as you increase salinity in these systems, you also see a correlated increase in phosphates. This can imply that there are oceanic drivers of nutrients and phosphates. However, Alsea showed high levels of chlorophyll and nutrients at a mid level of salinity, instead of this increasing trend we see with other Oregonian estuaries. We assumed the Alsea water samples already entered had been collected during an algal bloom, so we decided to do another sampling at Alsea a couple days ago to see if the data we had before was indeed, abnormal of typical Alsea conditions.


I analyze the samples we obtained on Thursday this upcoming week, so I’ll keep you posted as to what we find!

I got off work on Friday at 1:00pm, and brainstormed what I could do with all my free time. I visited the Hatfield visitor center and thoroughly went through all the exhibits, reading everything and watching every video. I was surprised I hadn’t done so yet, considering how long we’ve been at Hatfield already!

Also, unrelated, but this is a Potato Au Gratin dish I made for a get-together/potluck and I’m very proud of it.


Over the weekend, a few interns and I headed to Cascade Head and hiked to the top~






Remember when I said Salmon River was my favorite field site? I’m so glad I got to come back to Salmon again, this time with all mah new frands.


hanging out on the dock

Then after our hike, we visited Pacific City to go to Pelican Brewery and to hang out on the beach.

After a very jam-packed day, we chilled at the dorms and talked until the morning. This is Ron wanting to go to bed.


Also, since I’m not used to my GoPro yet, I have yet to make it a habit to upload all my pictures! Prepare for a photo-dump of photos taken from before.
From our weekend going up to Washington for the Gorge Amphitheater:

Field work:























Camping at the mid-summer check in!


Also this past week, for two days in a row, Abby and I decided to take advantage of living so close to the water, and just jump in after work!


“See you next week!”




It’s been a bit of time since we’ve last spoken, blog. A lot has happened– both the good and the bad (the bad mostly being me throwing up on one of our field days).

All of the boats at the EPA are named after birds. I threw up on the Osprey for our field day on the Umpqua. IMG_20150706_075341
Other than getting the most sea sick I’ve gotten in a longgggg time, the Umpqua is definitely one of my favorite systems. Super pretty!
We stopped at the Grateful Bread for some marionberry scones before hitting the estuary.

Then after work, Abby and Sara and I hit up Nye Beach! IMG_20150708_163111
We saw a really cool history of boarding (including skateboarding, surfing, etc) shown through artwork. IMG_20150708_165216

IMG_20150708_165331                                          IMG_20150708_204520

In other news, I got a bulls-eye for the first time too!!!!! It’s common for Hatfield grad students, interns, and the younger crowd to hit up Bier One on Wednesdays to play games and hang out. It’s cool to see familiar Hatfield faces fill up a room.


Also, this is Ron killing a spider for Abby and I. Ron’s our resident bug killer.

Fieldwork at Salmon River is my all time favorite so far.


I think it’s obvious why.

When we take water samples, we take measurements of pH, temperature, in situ fluorescence, DO, DO% saturation, and salinity of the “Bottom” depth, “Mid”, and “Surface”. However, we only take the “Mid” water samples to filter out for chlorophyll and nutrients. BUT! if the salinity between the bottom depth and surface is more than two units apart, we take samples from both the bottom and surface (doubling our work). At Salmon, every station we stopped at, we would have to take two samples. This was very strange, seeing as it was one of our smallest systems, and the river was only 2-5 meters deep in some areas. That much change in salinity/other parameters in such shallow waters made me wonder what was up. Also, at one of our stations, a group of cows were just chilling on the bank. Needless to say, the chlorophyll levels were a lot higher, and nutrient levels were probably super high by the cows.
On the weekend, we headed to the Gorge Amphitheater to see Zac Brown Band perform!
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We stopped at Multnomah Falls on the way up to Washington~



The gorge isn’t always evergreen-y though, some parts looked like the Grapevine in California.
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on our way back


After camping that night after the show, we were on our way back to Newport. But… we took a wrong turn and ended up in Seattle…Don’t ask us how that even happened…


Back in the lab… more sonication for processing the chlorophyll samples IMG_20150713_141116
I was also able to do some fieldwork besides the chlorophyll/nutrient sampling we’ve been doing. I got to go out on the mudflats to help a grad student with a seagrass experiment part of the ZEN project (UC Davis represent!) I take pride in saying Jay Stachowicz, who started the ZEN project, was my general ecology professor, and now am helping with the ZEN, 400+ miles away.


Speaking of varying fieldwork experiences… I got to help out with sea star surveys with ODF&W !


4 am selfies with the roomie :)



Henricia leviuscula



We got to go inside Devil’s Punchbowl for a ROV-ing survey.

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During our Sea Grant Mid Summer check-in, we went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium!

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Later that weekend, we headed to Eugene! Here are some rapids on the Williamette some of us jumped in. Eugene was awesome. It feels like a mini-Portland, but one that doesn’t try very hard to be too hip. IMG_20150718_172024_HDR

There’s a U-Pick blueberry farm in a town nearby! IMG_20150720_182319_HDRIMG_20150720_182648_HDRIMG_20150720_183217_HDR

YUMMM! blueberry picking! YAY!

After work one day, we decided to go to Yaquina Head to check out the lighthouse. IMG_20150724_190159_HDRIMG_20150724_190205_HDRIMG_20150724_190226_HDRIMG_20150724_190501_HDRIMG_20150724_190508_HDRIMG_20150724_191427_HDR

In reference to the SMART goals we made the first week…

– feeling comfortable in a room full of professionals in my field has been improving, thanks to free donut Wednesdays at Hatfield. Here, we’re able to chat and get to know everyone at Hatfield in a casual setting

– Twitter, unfortunately, has not been improving. I think I’m having a hard time getting into Twitter because I didn’t have one before this summer.

– As for learning local species, I have been adding plenty more, thanks to the recent trips to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and helping ODF&W out!


That’s all folks! Peace out~ see you next week



A stream of consciousness postcard to another

I think about how the sky paints the sea purple and pink and orange, but only when it feels like it, on special days of warm nights and 9:00 sunsets. That sometimes it’s hard to find where the sea ends and the sky starts, but there’s beauty in continuity and some things are left for wonder. As we float away, ripples from the motor leave a trail behind– but this isn’t a lesson on impacts made or legacies left. Instead I want you to see the soft lines of the waves, how no one talks about how beautiful water is when both gently disturbed but also can be as powerful and encompassing as it crashes against overbearing cliffs, how easily it can take a life away but just as so give it. How it contributes to fluidity, as fluid as the blood in my limbs; the same red running current as what’s in you. The same soft lines on the surface of Anthropluera elegantissima, like water color paints– how water can spread and share and ignite hues of vastness and creativity. Or maybe more so those soft lines mimic a high school student trying oil paints for the first time– the intent is there but execution is anything but perfect. But that’s okay. Because the sea never waited for perfection; it never waited for coloring within the lines–or the sky. The sea does whatever the heck it wants. And it can not and should not ever be contained or described as a bathroom theme in an orange county beach house; the sea does not deserve that and water should never be taken for granted. But that sometimes colors should bleed from the sky onto everything we love.

Cores, Chlorophyll, Canada

It’s really awesome not being in 90+ degree weather.


Exhibit A

On Monday, some VIP EPA folks came down to the Newport office to poke around to see what our office has been up to (and to escape the heat too, I’m sure). Prior to my involvement/arrival, my mentor had developed a method for testing whether Oregon marshes were “keeping up” with rising tides by looking at marsh accretion. In eight different Oregonian estuaries, marker horizon method sites were implemented. By pouring on feldspar clay onto plots, an initial baseline is set. From then on, any time in the short or long term future a sediment core sample is taken, based on the distance of sediment accretion from the feldspar layer initially laid down, would tell you the amount of accretion happened in that period of time. To showcase the methodology, we drew a sample core from the marsh outside our office to show our visitors. Sediment cores are extracted using liquid nitrogen.







By measuring soil accretion, we can quantify how much marshlands (which are critical habitats for wildlife, responsible for nutrient removal, and other ecosystem services) are being affected by sea level rise. Current estimates suggest a 2-3 mm annual rise. Based on our sample core, we exceeded that estimate– which suggests, the sea level rise is happening and affecting marshlands at a faster rate than predicted.

Something this visual is really valuable in showing those who might not have a science background the kind of issues we’re dealing with. I really liked this method of marshland accretion measurement because it is 1) simple 2) easy 3) effective 4) very visual 5) consistent, which I feel are good characteristics every good study and design should have.

I was only involved with the prep for the core sample demo, and instead, was a part of another demo happening in the lab. A study a post-doc working with Cheryl (my mentor) is working on, is the effects of macroalgae mats on cockle behaviors. It was super cool seeing another visual demonstration. We had a tank set up with a layer of sand and a few cockles doing what they do best– burrowing. While we had the cockles chilling and hanging out, we placed macroalgae mats on the surface of the water, and by inducing a psuedo low-tide (by slowly draining the water from the tank), we were able to observe the cockles’ behavior.

When macroalgae mats descend (!!!!) on cockles, the pressure from the weight of the mats induce the cockles to use their foot to essentially, “escape” and try to push themselves out of the sediment and out of the mats. The study they were presenting was super cool and proved that this behavior was due to pressure changes detected by the cockles, instead of chemical cues or any other factor.

For the rest of the day and the day after, I proceeded to finish my chlorophyll extractions in the fume hood. It’s always disorienting working in a fume hood in subdued/dark settings for a majority of the day and then emerge out of the lab caves and realize it’s still day time. But I love it– lab work is my calling. I hope I’m realizing it’s my calling instead of me going crazy under dark room settings.


Note: crazy scientist eyes

We got to go out to the field this week as well ! Siuslaw estuary is officially my favorite system. Working out in estuaries and seeing the gorgeous never-ending forest landscapes of the PNW, has really convinced me to buy a house boat and live on the waters with my dog.

The night before fieldwork, the interns and I watched Bourne Identity, and I proceeded to have a uncannily similar nightmare soon after. I dreamt I was a fisherwoman on a boat in the Bering Sea and the boat capsized. The next thing I knew I was being pulled out of the waters and rescued with two of my crew. Looking down at my knuckles, I noticed stitches in the shape of an X. I freaked out and my crewmates told me to check the rest of my body. I lifted up my shirt and my crewmates exclaimed there was a branding on my back (Bourne-esque stuff here) and yelled, “DID THEY TAKE YOUR KIDNEYS?!” I then woke up to reality, in a sweat.

Why am I telling you about my weird nightmare?

The beginning of the Siuslaw sample sets were in the marine layer and was very similar to an episode of Deadliest Catch. Except, maybe without all the storms….and the crabs…and the general fishing…and the extreme weathers in general. Maybe it’s wrong for me to compare my not-so-fair weather conditions with one of the riskiest occupations on the waters. But anyhow, there was wind and salt water spraying on my face and the boat was rocking and I was loving it. It was definitely one of the most intense fieldwork I’ve had thus far. It calmed down as we went upriver, so I didn’t have to endure for too long.


en route to Siuslaw

After fieldwork, the post-doc I work with back home (whom I’ve become super close friends with) ended up moving to Canada this past month, and she surprised me with a phone call to catch up! I thought it was such a coincidence since shortly after the phone call, the interns and I attended a Canada Day get together put on by one of the grad students at Hatfield. It was only appropriate for this cake to make an appearance:

I learned a lot about poutine, Canadian hospitality, and the other grad students at Hatfield. Also, the ratio of dogs to people at this Canada celebration was amazingly high. If Canada is as fun as our Canada Day celebration, I wouldn’t mind spending some time there.

On Thursday, the EPA employees got to leave 2 hours early! Yay federal holidays! Yay working for the feds! Yaaaay!

For the Fourth, the interns had the opportunity to go tide pooling (real verb, y’all) and hiking around Cape Perpetua! Listening to country while driving up a mountain, instead of hiking up to see the view was real American of us. But, we were able to hike on several trails at the top, so I got to soak in some good PNW forest-ness.

Here’s me being a dork on the Oregon coast:









Adding Pisaster ochraceus to my goal list of species

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Then we got to visit Devil’s Churn on the way back…





Waiting for the fireworks to start over the bay

Thanks to the Chelsea Rose (pictured below) and some well-weathered fishermen, we bought the freshest albacore tuna, right off the dock. I try my best to strive to obtain all my food as locally as possible, with the least food miles tacked on– but I’ve never had the opportunity to buy fish, the freshest possible way. We’re definitely spoiled around these parts.






Mmmmm… seared to perfection.

Enjoy a couple more photos of life at HMSC:


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Until next time…


Cheese and Charlie

I am composing this while macking (hahahah) on some crab cake-mac n’ cheese I made with local Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese. Oregon is obviously treating me well!

Speaking of Tillamook…

For our second field cruise to Netarts, we had to catch the low/dropping tide, so we left Newport at 6:45 am, and finished sampling really early. My field buddies include a research tech and a post-masters student. Our research tech Chris always has a bar of chocolate dedicated to the moment after field work when you have everything loaded and you finally sit down to get on your way out. (Side note: can we just appreciate the fact costal oregonians are able to keep chocolate in the car without fear of it melting??) This week, Chris had actually forgotten his chocolate (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) nooooooooooooooo!

Luckily, the post-master student Caitlin, had an idea to go to Tillamook cheese factory to get us some fresh ice cream. Best idea ever. I had some Oregon Blueberry ice cream in a waffle cone and proceeded to try the best sharp white cheddar, aged 4 years. It’s super fancy, packaged in a black label.

After splurging on purchasing some black label cheddar, I learned that Tillamook is a cooperatively owned company (yay!) and sources their milk locally from a bunch of small dairy farmers.


en route to Tillamook



At the EPA, I’ve started to process our chlorophyll samples from Alsea and Netarts. I’m working in the fume hood most days now, and I friggin love it. This is my first job where I consistently do an equal amount of lab work, field work, and office/computer work, which has allowed me to properly compare which I enjoy doing most.

Lab work comes in at a whopping first place, with field work not too far behind. I love being outside in the field, but before 7:00am call times are not my friend.

This past weekend, the #OSGscholars took to Portland! We stayed with Abby’s family in a nearby town, and we got to meet her family and her 100 pound, 10 year old fluff dog, Charlie. I’m obsessed with Charlie.

Here is Charlie’s favorite party trick (filmed by Abby):


I’m excited for the upcoming week, as we go out to the field again, this time to Siuslaw. We’re postponing our field cruise to Nestucca because some important EPA head people are coming through to the Newport office tomorrow to check things out. We’re preparing demos of what we do for them: using liquid nitrogen to extract sediment cores, showing them how our YSI sondes work (with adding varying levels of acidity, pH, PCO2, etc of the bucket of water to show how our readings differ with conditions), and a tour of the chlorophyll extraction to show the visitors.

Also it should be noted there are about 5 crows roosting on the gazebo roof, ground and trees in front of my dorm right now. With the coastal shubbery background, I feel like I’m in a scene of The Birds.

If you don’t see a blog post from me next week, you’ll know what happened…. #Hitchcock

The Beginning of an Oregrown Summer

Dear Reader,

The name’s Rosalyn, and in this bona fide Oregrown summer, I am a Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar, privileged enough to be working with Cheryl Brown at the U.S. EPA at Hatfield Marine Science Center as a Water Quality Evaluation intern. I will be conducting research on ensuring the sustainability of water resources in the face of climate change and other human stressors. I will also be aiding in identifying the factors which result in the expression of nutrient impairments, and the results of these studies will be used to develop nutrient criteria to protect Oregon estuaries from anthropogenic nutrient inputs or to predict how water quality in estuaries may change in the future.

Within this first week, I have been out in the field (!!!!), read background context papers regarding estuarine health in surrounding areas, done extensive safety training, made a lot of new friends, made some gooooooood food, sailed in the bay, gone to the farmer’s market, gone wildlife exploring and more.


Comparing Oregon blackberry jam with California blackberry jam (Oregon’s a lot sweeter/darker). Pictured in back is walnut butter from back home, and local Oregon honey on the other.

When I’m not in Oregon, I study Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, with a specialization in Aquatic Toxicology at the University of California, Davis (Go Ags!).

Research wise/Professionally, my research background and interest include marine debris, specifically plastics and synthetic materials, and its impacts on wildlife health. Generally, toxicology, aquatic health, chemical and environmental fate, and both freshwater and marine systems.

Personally, you can call me a hippie, but I love: cast iron skillets, cooking, dinghy sailing, compost, dumpster diving, spoken word poetry, discussions on gender issues, racial issues, the food system, and social justice.

…Fast forward to Oregon…

In order to effectively get things done, I have conducted SMART goals!

Professionally (2):

1) Be less awkward in a roomful of professionals in my field

2) Navigate and learn how to use twitter (?!?!)

Personal (1):

1) See, identify, and learn 25 native animals down to species level

(I’ve already gotten 6 down from our couple days of amateur birding)!

– Common Murre (saw this one while sailing) Uria aalge

– Caspian Tern, Hydroprogne caspia

– Osprey, Pandion haliaetus

– Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica (here’s the call: http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/105740/play)

– Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis

– Semipalmated plover, Charadrius semipalmatus

I definitely want to see some herps before this summer ends though, and our outing of seeing Jurassic World does not count.

Also, there’s currently only me and another OSG scholar in our dorm, and it’s great having all this space. But, we’re looking forward to our two new bunk mates arriving later today. Our dorm front is decked out (hahaha) with a long wooden deck connecting all the other dorms, a gazebo with grills for public use, a volleyball and basketball court. In the distance you can see all of our respective organizations/entities and the bay behind those. Living so close to the water is amaaaazing.

With little to no organization, here are some general thoughts about this past week:

With our first day in the EPA office, while taking a tour of the conference room, we were directed to where to find coffee and promptly asked if we drank coffee. A fellow intern mentioned she didn’t, and a passerby commented “hahaha, you will soon” and she could not have been more right.

I typically save my caffeine addiction for finals week or during our multiple midterm weeks during school. However, I’ve found it difficult to function in the workplace without multiple cups of coffee in one day. This is my first time with a full-time job, working 8-5 Mondays through Fridays, and it’s really been a reality check. I immediately began to criticize America’s thirst for “efficiency” at the expense of working people to the point of needing a substance to maintain stamina. I’m trying to go to bed earlier to combat the necessity for a cup of joe, but it’s difficult to balance working full-time with the desire to have a life, socialize, do household chores, etc. I compare it to your freshman year of college, where in the first few weeks you seriously question how people balance school work with socializing and getting involved. I suppose I’m going through a similar transition– figuring out how to navigate having a life with having a full-time job. (Which in itself is a privilege I am learning to acknowledge– that I’ve never had to balance a full-time job with other obligations. I exponentially respect students back home more, working their own way through school.)

What I’ve noticed with individuals and groups within my field, I’ve always thought was very ironic—the lack of sustainability and sustainable oriented choices. Single-use disposable utensils, plates, cups in events, lack of waste reduction/management in the office, leaving lights on when there is sufficient natural light and more.  I’ve noticed this issue back home, in other areas, and now here in Oregon. I think there’s a huge disconnect between what we’re studying and the everyday. It can be acknowledged that the everyday action you may take might not “save the world” or make an enormous impact, but if every person had this mentality, isn’t this the driving force behind Tragedy of the Commons, and other concepts we study?

For example, we had a welcome barbeque with polystyrene cups, plastic water bottles and disposable plates/utensils. I found this heart-wrenching because all of us had our dorms with reusable plates and cups merely 100 feet away. In addition, doing research on polystyrene impacts on aquatic systems, my heart breaks every time Solo cups are used.

However, this just means there’s so much room for implementation. I’m hoping before I leave I can try to implement some sort of change within the office or with events associated with the programs going on.

Upon my first day of meeting my mentor, the first thing Cheryl had said to me was, “you’re on the sailing team!” and I was surprised that she knew this about me. Then, I remembered that I had put it on my resume to signify that I knew how to work with boats. We began talking about sailing and she asked if I had wanted to go out on the water in a 420 for a fun-run regatta put on by the local yacht club. I enthusiastically agreed and two days later I was out on the bay! Crewing for 420s is similar to the FJ’s I’m used to back at school, but the winds here are ridiculously better than back home. Wind was around 20 knots, with gusts up to 30 knots… so much fun. I was able to crew for Laurie, who works at NOAA as a salmon biologist. She’s one of the best skipper’s I’ve had and we had a lot of fun talking about the recent toxic algal bloom, pseudo-nitzschia, which produces domoic acid which bioaccumulates up the food chain. Afterwards, we went to the boathouse and had a BBQ with all the other sailors and I met some awesome people. Most of them work at Hatfield too, so it was awesome finding a smaller niche within a bigger community.


the boathouse

Field work was absolutely amazing. We sampled at Netarts, about two hours north of Newport, for chlrophyll a and nutrients in 7 different spots within the system. We filtered for chlorophyll a right on the boat! I’ve always only done sample collection in the field and all the processing back at the lab, so it was really really cool seeing it done a different way.


Overlooking Netarts



Chlorophyll a Filtration



It was great being out on the water for a work day. I’ve decided my future job needs to at least have a field work component.

Also, something I’ve realized I need to start coming to terms with is gender issues within the sciences. It’s great being a part of Women in Science groups and whatnot, and it’s amazing to see that women are so heavily represented in both the REU group that is here, and the Sea Grant Scholars. Something I discussed with a grad student I work with, is that even though there’s a huge influx of women in the sciences coming in, there’s still an older cohort of males in higher positions in the sciences. It’s just something that takes time to even itself out. But it’s awesome to see women representation in the sciences truly progressing. I also noticed back home though, in the freshwater fish community, it is still predominantly men. In contrast, the marine community at UCD is actually predominantly equal or more females. I wonder why this is?

Within my first week here, I’ve already experienced a gendered microaggression towards me in the workplace, to which I didn’t know how to respond. I think it’s important that coming into a field dominated by men, women need to be equipped with a mentality that the hard work that was done to get to where they are should never be invalidated by anyone, and to be prepared to stand her (or whichever pgp) ground.

Oregon’s beautiful and I absolutely love the coast. Being by the water is always such a treat. Newport’s really adorable and the working dock with seafood coming in daily is really cool. There’s a huge fishery for Oregon pink shrimp in Newport, and apparently, (I learned from Laurie) the biggest fishery for imitation crab is here in Newport. Apparently, they fish for hake, and then add a gel and coloring to make imitation crab. Interesting stuff!

Follow my twitter for day-to-day updates @SeeRosalynSea

The blog post does not reflect the views of Oregon Sea Grant, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon State University, or the United States Environmental Protection Agency.