header image

Archive for Summer Scholars

Goodbye Oregon!

Posted by: | August 21, 2018 | No Comment |

Living in Oregon was a whole new two-month life. I’ve thought for a while now about leaving for somewhere where I’d know no one and nowhere to challenge myself and call it an adventure. This wasn’t a difficult challenge. This isn’t because I’m comfortable everywhere I go and am an adaptation queen, but that I am extremely lucky. I am lucky that I loved my position working with ODFW. I am lucky the people I got to work with became mentors professionally and friends personally. I am lucky to have lived in a beautiful and quaint coastal town. I am lucky that my dorm hallmates were genuine, fun, and loved talking about and collecting plants. I am lucky that every single 2018 Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar is a wonderful person to know, and the lovely ladies who ran this program did a heck of a job. For all these things I feel lucky for, I am thankful.

As I write this I am sitting in a study room at my college, Virginia Tech. I’ve jumped right back into my normal life, it’s been a hectic transition. As I placed my few Oregon keepsakes on my shelf last night I had a lot of fun telling my college roommates about them. I have a small stuffed bear dressed as a park ranger I bought during our midsummer camping mishap that left us to eat at a local restaurant that had a cute gift store. I have posters of bay clam and crabs I used to refer to every time I measured samples, now I know more than what the posters say. I bought a piece of cement imprinted with a leaf from a day trip down to Bandon I showed them. I gave my roommate an art print of a caribou I found at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. My shelf holds souvenirs of my summer memories.

I had a lot of firsts this summer, I’ll try to list all of them but know after I post this blog I’ll think of even more.

  1. Tried an Oyster that I didn’t like.
  2. Tried a tamale that I did like.
  3. Drove a boat.
  4. Went camping (in a tent, so real camping.)
  5. Went to Oregon!
  6. Went to California!
  7. Saw the Redwoods.
  8. White water rafting.
  9. White water kayaking.
  10. Went into a cave (with a guide and didn’t touch anything of course.)
  11. Dug for clams.
  12. Ate new berries: Huckleberry, Marionberry, Salmonberry, Salal Berry.
  13. Held a live shrimp.
  14. Stayed in a hotel room by myself.
  15. Witnessed smoke from forest fires.
  16. Saw Harbor Seals in the wild.
  17. Saw Bald Eagles in the wild.
  18. Saw a porcupine in the wild.
  19. Saw whales in the wild.
  20. Entered the Pacific Ocean.

I will miss my wild and wonderful Oregon coast adventure with the people who made it so hard to leave.

Bob Mapes, Mo Bancroft, and I are ready to dig a detailed assessment method (DAM) sight to search for clams, crabs, and shrimp.

The 2018 Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars! Pictured are also Sarah Kolesar and Anne Hayden-Lesmeister, the Research and Scholars Program Leader and Assistant.

Liz Perotti, Bob Mapes, Tammy Chapman, and I on board “Saxidomus,” one of ODFW’s boats.

 

 

under: sea_mai, Uncategorized

1060 miles

20 hours

14 interviews

And one day to say everything I need to say.

How could I possibly, in a five minute presentation, communicate the nuances of the 14 conversations I had with fishers up and down the Oregon coast? How could I make sure that they weren’t being misrepresented by my words, since some voices would disagree with others? Would the audience–which I knew would mostly be comprised of people in the biophysical sciences–understand the relevance of this type of work? These were the doubts rolling through my mind leading up to Friday, August 17th–the Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars Final Symposium and, coincidentally, my 22nd birthday.

Never before have I designed a scientific poster, let alone present my scientific work in front of people who weren’t my peers or professors. As a dancer, I have been on stage hundreds of times. I know that chemically in the body, the feelings of excitement and anxiety are essentially the same. Cortisol levels spike. Your heart races. The last thing you want to do is wait. The only difference between these emotions is whether you are interpreting the situation in a positive or negative light. These feelings are not unfamiliar to me, but they caught me by surprise last Friday. All thirteen scholars–who I have come to adore over these past 10 weeks–were coming together one last time. My work, which was shared and understood within a small circle, was finally going to take the stage. I was exhausted from traveling long distances and preparing my materials. And I had high expectations for myself on this significant day. But I would not have it any other way. Excited and shaky, I took the floor in front of a standing room only audience.

My final symposium poster, which provides an overview of the projects I have been involved in and their context within the Human Dimensions Project of the ODFW Marine Reserves Program. Click the picture to view the poster in detail. If you have any questions about my work, feel free to comment below or message me at mbrist96@uw.edu

I briefly explained the place of human dimensions research in environmental policy. In my words, it boils down to analyzing a particular situation through multiple social sciences lenses at different units of people. Economics, anthropology, sociology, and psychology all contribute to a holistic understanding of the world. I explained how my research dealt with individuals rather than groups of people or geographical regions, and what that looked like. I remember hearing a few empathetic gasps when I said I reviewed 785 written responses to a well-being survey four times over. And exclamations of surprise when I showed them the complex framework I used to assess how people think and what they value. I explained that being trained to think this way set me up perfectly for what I was brought to Oregon to do in the first place: to interview fishers on their perspectives of the marine reserves. For if you can’t get to the root of what people care about, you lose all potential to find common ground.

Looking over Astoria–the northernmost point in my journey–toward my home state of Washington.

At this point in the presentation I felt myself balancing the need to stay on script for the sake of time with the desire to deviate into stories. I drove over 1060 miles this summer for interviews–which is the equivalent of driving the Oregon coast three times over. I conducted interviews from Astoria along the Columbia River to Brookings, which is nine minutes from the California border. Each and every person I talked to had distinct backgrounds and countless stories, and were more than open to talk about their lives as fishers, challenges related to fisheries management, conservation, and the marine reserves. I can honestly say that my perception of fishers has changed radically since coming to Oregon. They are highly satisfied with their lifestyle and are in tune with the natural environment that their business depends upon. Many of them wish to collaborate with scientists and managers to create policies that serve the greater good, so long as their input is not used against them. These insights are just a snapshot of what I ascertained from 20 hours of conversation.

But what I couldn’t tell the audience was about everything that happened in between these conversations. Moments punctuated by extensive beaches, meeting new people, and exploring the Oregon coast. Places referenced in interviews that I had the privilege of seeing with my own eyes. And the coastal cultures that my mentor Tommy introduced to me–I got to feel those firsthand. Traveling as a part of the Human Dimensions Project helped me understand the people of the Oregon coast more so than reading could ever do.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, where I stayed for three days while conducting interviews on the North Coast.

For example, when I spent one weekend traveling to the North Coast, I was introduced to fellow Summer Scholar Dylan Rozansky’s work environment at the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP). On Cannon Beach, a whole community comes together to educate visitors on the ecology of Haystack Rock and to ensure its protection for the future.

The Historic Bayfront of Florence, one of my favorite places on the Oregon coast. However, it’s a really hard call to pick favorites. I feel so lucky to have traveled the entire coast this summer, and to have been exposed to so many different, beautiful places.

On a sunny Saturday morning I interviewed a fisher in Florence–a quaint retirement community an hour south of Newport. I took the time to wander through art shops and happened upon a bead shop called the Waterlily Studio, whose products are based out of appreciation for the natural history of our planet and cultural uses of nature.  I loved everything about the shop, and then got into a conversation with the owner about the future of our world. Our fears with the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW’s) in the Puget Sound, and what we can do to save them. And I was more motivated than ever to take everything I have learned this summer–about engaging people in conversations and marine policy–to do something about this. When I return home to Seattle this Sunday, attending a public action meeting on the fate of the SRKW’s is one of the first things on my agenda.

A blood red sun in the smoke of California fires. I stayed in Gold Beach on the Rogue River while conducting South Coast interviews.

I am feeling a lot of things in this present moment. It is bittersweet to leave this incredible slice of the world. And already, so many of the Scholars have moved on to the next chapter of their lives–whether that be school or jobs. And I wish them all the luck in the world. Of all the emotions in my heart, I feel grateful to have been entrusted with this work, to have had such supportive mentors, and to have met such an outstanding group of people.

So all I have left to say now is…

Thank you.

My people, my fellow Scholars. Oh how I will miss you. The marine science community is small enough, so I have faith our paths will cross soon enough again.

under: Madison Rose Bristol, Summer Scholars
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

My Summer of Firsts

Posted by: | August 20, 2018 | No Comment |

This summer has been full of firsts for me, as I hoped it would be, and fulfilled the pre-summer goal I set for myself. Some of my firsts I had to make happen, other ones happened by opportunity; some were personal, others were professional. Either way, I finished this summer having accomplished some cool feats. Here’s my list of firsts:

  • For the first time ever, I worked a traditional 9 to 5 job in an office setting. It was challenging at first to be able to sit inside and work on a computer all day, but my tolerance for it grew throughout the summer.
  • This is also the first summer that I haven’t spent at home. I usually work in my dad’s restaurant and take family trips, but I was totally alone this summer. It was surprisingly liberating; I planned my own trips, made my own food, and stuck to my own schedule, but I really missed being home.
  • I finished my longest hike to date, which was nine miles. It was a pretty easy hike through from Sunset Bay to Cape Arago in Charleston, but it was great.

    Cape Arago in Charleston.

  • Another first is that I went to a brewery for the first time! Turns out that I loved going and breweries are so important to the culture of coastal Oregon; my favorite hangout spot in Coos Bay turned out to be 7 Devils, a local brewery.
  • A few weekends ago, Alexa, Sophia, Keana, and I went whitewater rafting and kayaking on an all-day guided trip. It was super fun and great to head into the mountains after living on the coast all summer.
  • I saw gray whales and the whale lover in me was very happy.
  • I went ocean kayaking (twice) and ocean paddle boarding for the first time, which was incredible.
  • I took a tour of Moore Mills & Timber Company, a timber company based in Bandon; we learned about sustainable harvesting and the importance of timber to the area.
  • The three of us (Sophia, Keana, and I) lived on the campus of a community college, which gave us access to the school gym. And for the first time ever, I ACTUALLY stuck to a gym routine and enjoyed going.
  • My East Coast self was very happy eating In-n-Out for the first time.
  • I also got to try my hand at menu design when my dad asked me to design a dinner menu for his restaurant. It was tedious but felt good to work on something that’s important to him and his business.
  • I finally got to work on Fajr Beirut, which is an organization that provides Syrian refugee women in Lebanon with materials to handmake notebooks to sell, which provides for them and their families. I’m working on bringing that initiative to Virginia Tech and making it its own club!
  • I was able to interview guides and business owners a few times this summer, too. It was fun to design my own questions and go talk to people. It helped me get to know the area a little better and learn about why tourism is so important to the South Coast.
  • One of my favorite firsts this summer was camping! I had never been before (my parents stuck to indoor activities growing up) and I finally got to go with my fellow summer scholars. It was super fun and now I’m working on buying my own gear.
  • One side project I worked on this summer was a photography project for the South Coast Tourism Regional Network. It was a grant-funded project to compile a digital media library to promote the south coast…and they needed models, which is where Keana, Sophia, and I stepped in. I’m usually camera shy so this was a fun way to get out of my comfort zone while eating at local restaurants or having fun outside.

    Keana and I kayaking as part of the photoshoot.

  • Keana, Sophia, and I were also allowed the opportunity to be on the radio show “Hooked on Oregon.” We went on air twice to discuss our projects and the importance of tourism. It was pretty fun, but the people we met there made it so special to me. They were genuinely invested in our careers and were excited to see where the future takes us; I’ve met a lot of people like that and I feel lucky.
  • A big outcome of this summer is my newfound confidence in presenting my work and talking to people. I no longer feel like I don’t know enough to be talking to professionals; instead, I contribute when I can and ask questions when I’m feeling unsure. It has also felt nice that people really care about what I’m doing and my life goals, and I feel comfortable building up my network with these kinds of people. Which leads me to…
  • Networking! For the first time ever, I’ve held onto the business cards I’ve collected and have the intention of contacting these people. I also started a LinkedIn (hasn’t been completed yet, but I’m working on it!)
  • During my summer, I was really forced to think about what sustainable tourism really means. Incorporating the economy, the community, and conservation is extremely tricky and it’s hard to balance competing interests. But when that balance is found, some sustainable progress can be made.
  • For the first time ever, I conducted a research project on my own and was able to make modifications to the procedure I was given, so that it can be followed and adapted by future researchers. I finished data collection, exported the data, analyzed it, and finally compiled and formatted my own report.
  • With my research project, I was able to design a poster to present at Oregon Sea Grant’s Final Symposium. It was my first time giving a formal presentation like that and presenting my own poster; it was a proud moment and felt good to have people show interest and ask me questions.

So that’s my list of firsts. There are definitely some more, but I’m especially fond of these firsts and the memories they hold. This summer was absolutely one for the books and I feel so thankful to have been a part of Oregon Sea Grant’s 2018 Summer Scholars cohort. I hope to take the confidence and skills I’ve developed this summer and implement them in my daily life. I also want to stay intentional about my “firsts,” because you never know what they may lead to.

My favorite photo of the summer. A gray whale off the coast of Depoe Bay.

under: Rasha Aridi, sea_ari

It’s hard to believe the summer is already winding down. I had a wonderful time in Oregon and learned far more than I thought nine weeks could offer. From learning all the nearshore Rockfish species to the ins and outs of R and basics of statistical ecological modeling, I have gained a variety of technical skills that I’ll carry with me throughout my career in the marine sciences. Working at ODFW this summer has given me insight on what it’s like to work as a research fisheries biologist in a government agency and how important a biologist’s work is to fisheries management. After hours of testing and running models and decoding error messages in R, my data began transforming from a stream of numbers to a story. We found that hours from sunset had a significant impact on fish count data, and it was neither species nor location-specific. Using what is called a generalized additive model (GAM), we were able to show how all our variables interact with fish count data and suggest that there is no ecological benefit to conducting surveys at night. My work is part of a larger project the ODFW research team is working to complete, so I’ll likely be the author of a publication relatively soon!

On Friday, all the scholars came together to share their work and experiences working in various marine fields this summer. This final symposium consisted of short presentations followed by a poster session, and I would say it was one of my favorite parts of the summer. Seeing all the relevant, complex work people were part of reminded me just how powerful, inspiring, and intelligent our generation of rising scientists is. We have the power to be effective communicators and dissolve the barriers between science, policy, and human dimensions. We have the power to make change and show others the importance of protecting our oceans. I’m excited to see how all the scholars apply the knowledge they’ve gained this summer and where their experiences and passions will take them. A big thank you to everyone who supported me on this journey to the West Coast – it was a first, but it certainly won’t be a last.

Final symposium poster session

under: Daniella Hanelin, Daniella Hanelin

Final Results of the Mesocosms

Posted by: | August 19, 2018 | No Comment |

In my last blog post, I introduced you to the excitement Newport offers outside of Hatfield Marine Science Center, but left you hanging on how the mesocosm project turned out.

We planned on running experiments three days in a row, leaving the mesocosms out in the field for the entire duration. We needed to collect over 360 juvenile Dungeness crab and over 18 Pacific staghorn sculpin, which proved harder than we expected. We quickly saw that we would need to adjust our study due to the natural progression of second instars growing into fourth or fifth instar crabs. The crabs were too large for the Pacific staghorn sculpins to eat, making it difficult to run a predation experiment. However, we realized that the large crab size could be a benefit as it would allow us to study the crabs’ behavior without any predation while also reducing a factor of loss when retrieving the crabs. This increase in crab carapace allowed us to reduce the number of crabs needed to 10 per mesocosm instead of 20, another benefit. We spent three days beach seining at low tide and setting minnow traps overnight to collect the necessary number of organisms.

Brett Dumbauld of USDA-ARS beach seining for juvenile Dungeness crab and Pacific staghorn sculpin in Yaquina Bay, OR.

Water tables in the EPA lab housing over 250 juvenile Dungeness crab and over 40 Pacific staghorn sculpin.

With all of the pieces together, we were able to move forward and set-up the mesocosms in the field to begin running experiments. The mesocosms were set the same as they had been during the first trial, each containing different combinations of two habitat types (on-bottom oyster aquaculture, eelgrass, open mud) in three controls and duplicated in three treatments.

An example of a mesocosm set-up. One side contains eelgrass, the other oysters placed to mimic on-ground oyster aquaculture.

We then prepared the Pacific staghorn sculpins by starving them for 24 hours before they were put in the field. We had previously decided that we would experiment with different lengths of time that the crabs were exposed to the sculpin to see if it had any effect on their behavior. We decided to begin one trial when the water was low enough that it wouldn’t be spilling over the top of the mesocosms (about 2.5′). This trial was run for 2 hours, wherein predators were left in the mesocosms. We then reset the trial by removing and counting predators and prey before adding more organisms for a 24-hour trial which we would come back to the next morning. As we approached the mesocosms that morning with the water just around the tops, we noticed them rocking back and forth.

NOOOO! How were we going to run our 24-hour experiment without the crabs and sculpins escaping? We ran back to Hatfield during our 2-hour wait period and brought back a drill and rebar to reinforce the mesocosms, hoping it would do. Since we already had the organisms prepared, it was best to run the 24-hour experiment and just see what would happen.

Kelly Muething and Anna Bolm clearing out the different habitats after a 24-hour habitat selection experiment involving juvenile Dungeness crab and Pacific staghorn sculpin, in Yaquina Bay, OR.

We had some pretty interesting results. In the 2-hour experiment, we retrieved 95% of the crabs while in the 24-hour experiment we retrieved 106% of the crabs. This was the opposite of what we expected since the mesocosms had been rocking, but apparently some other crabs had run in rather than escape. Given that we only ran two trials, we can’t conclude any real results, but did see some patterns. Crabs preferred oyster shell over both eelgrass and open mud, whether or not there was a predator. The sculpins’ presence didn’t seem to have much impact on crab habitat selection, possibly because they had outgrown the sculpins’ ability to prey. All in all, the mesocosms were a success and Brett plans on using them again next summer, earlier in the crab season to test the second instars.

Last Friday, I presented my work and then participated in a poster session, a really rewarding experience. It felt good to share what I had been working on and I appreciated the exercise of thinking about how to communicate the project to others. It was also informative to see what the other Sea Grant scholars had been working on as well as converse with scientists about our work.

Poster shown on the mesocosms at Oregon Sea Grant poster session.

It’s been a really incredible summer living and working at Hatfield Marine Science Center. I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity and feel lucky to have had such wonderful mentors to work with. To celebrate the end of the summer and completing the final presentation and poster session, my husband guided me out on my first sea kayaking trip, exploring the sea caves beneath Cascade Head. Rising and falling with the swell is an incredible feeling, the water looking like hills around you. We watched a whale play about 100 meters away before heading into a cave. I have to say, it was pretty scary and amazing at the same time. Paddling into darkness with waves booming around you would spook anyone, right? It was cool seeing all of the birds nesting along the rock cliffs, Pacific sea nettles swimming around, and sea stars and anemone exposed at low tide. We also spotted some floating tubes which turned out to be squid eggs. All in all, the perfect end to a perfect summer and a reminder of how much we love the area. We’re hoping to move to Newport so I can continue volunteering and learning at Hatfield while looking for work.

under: Anna Bolm, sea_bol, Uncategorized

Wrapping Up the Summer

Posted by: | August 19, 2018 | No Comment |

Wow, how the last nine weeks have flown by me. To start this post, I want to present a sample of the analysis I was able to draw from the survey data. In terms of basic demographic data, 75% of the respondents were female and fifty percent of those surveyed lived outside of Oregon. Over ninety percent of people also identified as Caucasian. While my coworkers and I can tell you that an overwhelming percentage of those who visit Haystack Rock are Caucasian, in reality it is probably less than ninety percent – probably closer to 75-80%. Both this stat and the idea that three out of four visitors are female might be attributed to a few different factors. For one, I was the only person to conduct the survey, therefore I, myself, may have inadvertently introduced some bias. To counteract this and create a random sample pool, I should have asked others to also conduct the survey. We also receive visitors from all around the world so one possibility for the extreme difference could be those visitors who do not speak English as a first language may have felt timid about talking to me or taking a survey which was not in their primary language. Our organization has tried to increase our diversity with the hiring of an inclusivity coordinator who has translated some of our brochures and information into Spanish while also running a program which allows people to check out beach wheelchairs for free. The other piece of analysis I will touch on is just how much Haystack Rock is a family activity. When I first arrived and learned from other HRAP staff that we did have visitors who returned, it made sense to me, yet I did not comprehend the degree to which people return to the Rock. I found that more than 35% of tourists had visited the rock not just once, not just twice, not even five times, but ten or more times! Reading through the comments and having conversations with people from areas all over the US, I came to learn that many people have returned to Haystack Rock year after year. Some have family reunions here every year, some live in Washington but make the trek down at least once a summer, but all felt a connection to the Rock.

To share the demographic data from the survey with our partnering organizations, I created an easy-to-read infographic.

It is this connection that I think could be the key to protecting Haystack Rock and its inhabitants. People who have not visited in a few years are shocked by the drastic reduction in sea star population from even three years ago and many are clearly concerned by the fact that it is possible their children, or grandchildren, may not get to see the mosaic of sea stars that at one point painted the area. For humans to see what effect we have had on our environment is crucial to building a bridge towards conservation. A few, certainly the minority, citizens of Cannon Beach and Tolovana Park, as well as those who make the pilgrimage almost yearly, believe HRAP enforces too much. In their mind, if we do not allow a child to see what happens when they poke a closed sea anemone, or look at the underside of sea star, or look for nudibranchs on their own instead of an interpreter pointing one out to a child – all of which they would have done as a child before HRAP was established – we are stunting their growth and inhibiting their naturally curious side. I choose to tell the visitor that if we do not recognize that the ways of the past have left us where we are today, and if we do not learn from the past’s mistakes, we are bound to repeat them. This aside, I am constantly amazed at the number of guests who do want to see the puffins, as well as their avian and aquatic neighbors, thrive at Haystack Rock.

Personally, this summer has been incredible. It was the first time I was more or less living on my own, while simultaneously working my first 9 to 5 job. I learned how to cook with modest supplies…and not have a dining hall to bail me out when I was not in the mood for cooking. For the most part, the food I made was pretty good, and I believe I did a decent job crafting meals that covered most of the food groups. Given that I had a decent amount of down time after work and on the weekends, I had to figure out what to do. Hiking became my go to and I will sorely miss not having jaw-dropping hikes within a ten to fifteen minute drive of my place. Oregon never ceased to amaze me with gorgeous coastal views, dense coniferous forests that were shrouded in a heavy fog during my morning hikes, and colorful bridges (no, really, for a kid who has spent time in Denver and Miami, this last item was a highlight).

The view from Saddle Mountain on a clear day cannot be beat!

 

Crossing the Astoria-Megler Bridge and stepping foot in Washington was a summer highlight.

I have to mention my coworkers who made our small office a great deal of fun and could always make me laugh, while simultaneously teaching me crazy facts about marine life and just about anything else, too. My standards for professional conferences were significantly increased this summer when most of our staff traveled to Portland for a week at the Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators (NAME) conference. I had the opportunity to spend a week with amazing people from Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, many of whom are (or were) educators in high school, universities, and community colleges. Both inside and outside of the conference that week, our boss, Melissa (who also happened to be the coordinator for the conference), ensured that we had a fantastic work environment, and there truly was never a dull moment. These people made the quiet Oregon coast a whirlwind of activity, engagement, and welcomed me to their community. I will miss them, every one of them, a lot.

This summer I was able to attend the NAME conference and learn what great work is being done in the area of marine education in the Pacific Northwest.

If someone asked me if they should apply and try to be a part of Oregon Sea Grant, I would emphatically say “yes” as it is a professional experience that teaches you so much and connects you with knowledgeable people, all while giving you the opportunity to spend a summer in a state that has more to offer in terms of unique culture (I am looking at you Portland Timber’s Army) and outdoor activities than can be completed in ten weeks.

One of the most energetic fan bases of any professional sport, in my opinion, is the Timber’s Army.

Until next time, Oregon!

 

under: sea_roz

Soaking in all things Newport

Posted by: | August 5, 2018 | 3 Comments |

After realizing the summer was quickly slipping away, I spent the last three weeks exploring Newport and soaking in what it has to offer. There was a free screening of the documentary, Reluctant Radical, at the Newport Performing Arts Center followed by a Q&A with the director, Lindsey Grayzel, and the subject of the film, Ken Ward. The film offers the perspective of father and eco-activist Ken Ward by following him through: blocking the Shell icebreaker from leaving Portland Oregon, shutting down the U.S. tar sands oil pipeline, and the trial following his arrest. When framed by the fear of his son’s future given current oil consumption, Ward’s actions make sense. To view the film you can find or host a screening at https://www.thereluctantradicalmovie.com/ .

I also participated in the NOAA fish cutting party which was a huge success!! Three days were scheduled for fish processing but a great early turnout of volunteers cut the processing time in half. Over 1900 fish were processed, which included removing the stomachs and otoliths, as well tags and fin clips in some. While I have gutted and filleted fish before, searching for otoliths was a whole new challenge. Otoliths, tiny little ear bones the size of a sesame seed, slip from your tweezers in the blink of an eye escaping to a mess of brain and tissue. It was easy to become immersed in the search and all the more satisfying when the little piece was found, especially knowing the otoliths were being used to age the fish by counting growth layers like rings on a tree.

Up at a nearby café, Café Bosque, my roommate and I spent an evening with Ranger Ryan talking about marine debris along Oregon’s coast. He presented a slide show on the subject and then screened Chris Jordan’s Albatross the Film while providing commentary along the way. I am currently working on research outside of my Sea Grant project which investigates the presence of microplastics in seawater and zooplankton and it was nice to see the combination of art and science to help communicate such a hidden yet ubiquitous issue.

A photograph, inspired by Chris Jordan’s Albatross the Film, of a bird I spotted while walking along Nye Beach. The film documents the dying albatross population on Midway Atoll. Jordan dissects multiple birds to find their stomachs filled with plastics.

I went and checked out the historic Nye Beach neighborhood which was filled with live music. There was a band playing outside the Newport Visual Arts Center, another at the Taphouse at Nye Creek, and more at Nana’s Irish Pub! Nye Beach is a cute little area with a lot of shops and restaurants near the beach. I ended up taking my visiting family there for breakfast at Cafe Stephanie where we all had delicious breakfast burritos and complimentary scones.

I also finally made it to the Saturday farmers market with my roommate, where I stocked up on berries, salad, and tomatoes. There were so many good smelling food stands serving prepared food that next time I’ll have to remember to go hungry. Later that day, my roommate and I went crabbing on the public dock. We sat out in the sun, reading our books, and chatting with fellow crabbers for about four hours. We had some exciting catches of a couple Dungies that were just a little too small to keep. We ended up with 3 Red Rock crabs but realized we wouldn’t be around for dinner, so passed them along to our neighbors.

The crab that was JUST too small. My roommate Meg is to my left and a little helper who offered to throw it back for us.

While my brother and sister-in-law were visiting we checked out the Aquarium Village, then went for a hike in Wilder, followed by a beer at the nearby Wolf Tree Brewery, and topped it off with dinner in Nye Beach. It was a lot of fun showing them around and exploring new places at the same time.

Family fun at Aquarium Village, diving into the deep unknown.

I am currently soaking in a little more Newport by eating some clam chowder I made from cockles gathered in Yaquina Bay. I have to say, it was a lot of work shucking and cleaning the cockles, but it is the best clam chowder I have ever had and am already planning when I can get back out and harvest more.

In other news, my summer project is complete! We ran the last experiment on Friday, but you’ll have to wait until the next blog post for all of the details.

Me in my happy place, at Nye Beach.

 

under: Anna Bolm, sea_bol
Tags:

My research project consisted of gathering information on different types of guided experiences and their products/pricing along the Oregon coast. Specifically, I researched salmon charters, whale watching, and kayak tours in 15 coastal Oregon towns. There are three goals to my research: (1) to see what businesses are offering, (2) to see what their products and prices are, and (3) to determine the strength of their online marketing.All three of these goals come together to help us work towards one bigger one: to boost economic development along thecoast through sustainable tourism. One way to do so is through guided experiences, which includes any form of outdoor recreation that is led by a professional. These can include fishing charters, horseback riding, tidepooling, guided hikes, and master classes. 

When using a guide, clients definitely learn more than they would on their own. Guides know the area better than anyone and can point out wildlife and special features to the area; they’ll also ensure a fun and safe experience for everyone involved. By using professional guides, visitors are creating jobs in the area and encourage sustainable tourism. In turn, with a higher demand for guides, professionals will be encouraged to obtain higher certifications and more training to be more competitive in the industry.

I believe that the more you know, the more you see. If you’re more knowledgeable about a topic, you’ll have a greater appreciation for what you’re doing. And who knows more about outdoor recreation than the people who lead these experiences for a living?

Since my research is about guides and guided experiences, I was lucky enough to take a guided tour and experience what I had been researching. Dave Lacey, the owner of South Coast Tours LLC, took me and two other interns out on a Port Orford Ocean Wildlife Viewing Kayak Tour. Dave founded SCT in 2012, and they offer several types of guided experiences including kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, kayak fishing, and van tours. Along with his team of five other guides, Dave works hard to ensure the safety of his clients and to make sure they walk away smiling, having had a wonderful time on the tour.

When asked why people should choose to take guided tours instead of venturing off into the ocean alone, Dave referenced our specific tour saying, “There’s a lot to learn from somebody who has done it before, so you can show them some of those sea caves you might not notice, or the arch. If you didn’t know the arch was there, you might miss it. There’s that inside knowledge, plus [weather and ocean] conditions.” When asked about the highlight of his job, Dave added, “The best part is hearing you guys laugh and just the stoke you hear out there.”

As part of tour, Dave provided wetsuits, booties, and kayaks to each client. He discussed water safety and explained the basics of kayaking before we launched from the beaches of Port Orford. We paddled through Graveyard Point, Tichenor Cove, Nellies Cove, and through Hell’s Gate and back to the port.

Along the way, Dave was able to point out local seabirds which included brown pelicans, pigeon guillemots, cormorants, black oystercatchers, and common murres, as well as different types of kelp, how to eat them, and their importance to wildlife. We continued into a cove, where we found a group of 20+ harbor seals, many of them young pups. Dave explained how we should keep our distance and make sure we move slowly so that the seals do not get nervous and hurt themselves sliding off of a rock. We paddled around them and even had some come visit our kayaks!

We continued and saw caves and arches, but the water was too rough for us to paddle through; we were able to go through the arch on the way back, though. We kept paddling, with Dave pointing out wildlife such as barnacles, mussels, sea stars, and lion’s mane jellyfish. The highlight of our trip was on the return, where Dave spotted a whale’s spout in the port. We slowed down, and it was headed our direction! We took about a half an hour to watch the whale, as it emerged and dove back down right around our kayaks. Dave explained to us that this whale was likely part of the resident pod and feeding on the kelp beds below us. It was the highlight of my week! Dave even had a camera to take photos of us and videos of the wildlife to send to us.

Taking a tour with Dave was a great way to better understand the need for helpful, well-trained guides. During our interview, Dave said that he is always making sure that we are having a great time but is constantly thinking about our safety. He provided high quality equipment, ensured we were comfortable and confident, and was able to identify and teach us all about the local marine wildlife. Without a guide, we would not have had the same experience, especially as people new to the area. South Coast Tours offers wonderful guided experiences that practice sustainable tourism while ensuring happiness and safety to all participants.

under: Rasha Aridi, sea_ari

It is quite shocking that there are only two weeks left in the program until the cohort comes together one last time to present our research projects in Newport. My experiences this summer have forever created a place in my heart for Oregon, my Oregon Sea Grant family and my Oregon State University family. It has been quite a journey filled with new faces, exciting conversations, and unique outdoor adventures. Over the past several weeks, I have had the pleasure of expanding my OSU and academia network by continuing to seek out college readiness programs in the region. This expansion included a meet and greet encounter with Mr. Ed Young, a writer for The Atlantic, whose keynote speech about symbiosis and scientist’s life stories was beyond captivating. Plus, it was a bonus to have a signed copy of his new best-selling book…winning!!! I also had the pleasure of speaking to a group of Albany high school students participating in the OSU Upward Bound program about college opportunities and experiences. It was a little difficult to anticipate how interactive this audience would be, but to my delight they were very inquisitive and had quite a list of questions concerning topics related to financial aid, scholarships, tuition, and so on.

Even though my project has had some bumps in the road, I am thankful for being able to be a part of this project and to help OSU further carry out their mission of providing higher education opportunities to communities in need through diversity and inclusion initiatives. After several meetings and a lot of hard work, I have been able to design two new surveys for our project that will be administered to students and parents as part of the program objectives. Even though I will be leaving before the surveys and focus groups can be administered, I am glad that I was able to help contribute to this portion of the project in some way. Hopefully, I will still have the opportunity to visit the Siletz reservation before my departure and to attend their annual Pow Wow next weekend.

In the meantime, I have continued my exploration of Oregon with a stellar trip to Crater Lake where I watched the sunset and the sunrise with a couple of hours of sleep in the back of a Subaru. Two weeks ago, I went on the camping with the other OSG summer scholars and despite a little mishap we managed to have a great trip that involved hiking through an old growth forest, marionberry picking on a farm, and swimming in the Willamette river. Last weekend I managed to make my way to the Silver Falls state park where you can walk pass 10 different waterfalls along an 8 mile-loop trail that is simply spectacular! Afterwards, I went to Portland for a day to remember what it is like to be in a big city (I believe there has only been two weekends where I have not slept in a tent) and to eat some delicious ramen and read some books at Powell’s. If you do not know what Powell’s is…well you should know (if you are a true book lover)! To capture some zen before the hectic schedule that is about to ensue these last couple of weeks, I will be camping at Mt. Hood and taking in as much as Oregon has to offer while I can.

Have a great weekend everyone and go exploring!

P.S. I am FINALLY a proud tent owner and lifetime member of REI!!! ☺

under: sea_mol
Tags: ,

This summer I’ve been a part of the Shellfish and Estuarine Assessment of Coastal Oregon (SEACOR) team, a program of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. This shellfish program conducts surveys to estimate bay clam abundance in estuaries on the Oregon coast, this summer’s field work is in Coos Bay. Recreational clamming is a popular activity amongst locals and tourists in Oregon, commercial clamming is sold mainly as bait for Dungeness Crab fishers, supporting livelihoods. Our work is to ensure that this fishery is sustainable by suggesting conservative quotas for commercial clamming and daily catch limits for recreational.

When I began as an intern I dove into field work, my first day consisted of basic boat operations (which I knew none of), dredging randomly computed GPS locations, and filling in data sheets of habitat characteristics. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks in I could see the big picture and importance of the work we were doing. As an intern I’ve been given opportunities to be a part of more than my teams immediate work, such as participating in an ODFW shellfish creel survey, a Cockle clam survey, shadowing water quality monitoring specialists, learning how the work and research ODFW does contributes to policy making, and community outreach events. That first day as an intern I could only see the clams and crabs in front of me, sorting them is only one component of it all.

One thing I can say with certainty about this internship is that I haven’t been bored. My hours are irregular, my work weeks are all different from the last, and something new occurs each day. Here are a few special and random memories that stick out to me from working with my team this summer:

  • A Hagfish swam by and my coworker dropped our equipment to catch and show me what a Hagfish was and how interesting they are
  • I used the first aid kit’s binoculars to ogle at bald eagles
  • Sitting in the warm sun, cleaning eelgrass, listening to reggae, and talking about our favorites movies
  • Seeing my first adult Dungeness Crab
  • Swimming from the boat to an RV park to use their porta potty
  • Driving a boat for the first time, traveling a whopping 5mph yet being so nervous to do so
  • Learning how to tie a bowline knot which took me many tries
  • Watching one unfortunate Sand Shrimp be the most popular attraction in the shellfish touch tank

I have two weeks left in Oregon and I’ve begun to think how much I will miss my team, Coos Bay, and the work I’ve been given. The employees I’ve had the pleasure to work with at ODFW are genuine, lively, and hardworking people. I don’t get sick of being on a boat with them 5-10 hours a day, they’ve made me realize it may be hard to find a job where I am as happy to be at work as this one. I am so lucky to have been accepted as an Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar.

under: sea_mai

Older Posts »

Categories