Erupting into high gear

(An expanded version of this post including a bunch of great photos is now on my blog:

This week I had a meeting with my mentor Nancee, as well as Mark and Shawn, other Free Choice Learning guru’s. I showed them all the stuff I had collected and we talked about the next steps. I feel I have a much more clear view of what’s going on with this exhibit and I’m ready to start the next phase. That is to talk with visitors to do some informal research on what things are going to work well for the exhibit. This will help me with my planning. It’s kind of crazy to think that I only have 5 weeks.

So some people may have heard about the disturbances that happened at Yaquina Head with the common murres. I happened to be there that night when it all went down. I heard about helping to volunteer with this research by interpreting to the public and I jumped at the opportunity.
Juvenile California Brown Pelicans came in and went through this infuriating (to me) routine of flapping their wings to scare away the adult murres, and at this point many of the chicks fell down to the water. All they seemed to be after was to steal whatever fish the parents had brought to feed their chick. When the murres got scared they would drop it and the pelican would eat it. Sometimes the pelicans would eat small chicks, and sea gulls being the opportunists they are rushed in to eat many chicks with the parents scared away. The pelicans were also seen swallowing a chick then spitting it back out then swallowing again and repeating until the chick was dead. I don’t know what the pelicans got out of this since they didn’t eat these chicks.
The colony was thinned to a fraction of its original size that night. It was sad to watch. I also went down to the beach the next day and saw many dead chicks washed up. Apparently hundreds of them were further down on the beach.

This weekend when I was off, my kids and I went to central Oregon and discovered volcanoes! (Hence the “erupting” in this blog title.) We got to drive to the top of a cinder cone and walk all around the rim of it, take a hike amidst a huge lava flow, and walk through a lava tube cave. We also went to the John Day fossil beds at Sheep Rock and the Painted Hills. Super cool! I thought going to central Oregon would be a short and slightly boring trip but I realized after arriving that there was so much to do I could have easily stayed for a week.

Week 4 – Giant Pacific Octopus, and gearing up for planning session

This week I was actually on vacation most of the time. I took my kids to Seattle with various stops on the way up and back.  One gem that I originally didn’t think was going to be that amazing was the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville Oregon.  They have the actual Spruce Goose!  It was HUGE.  We even got to go up into the cockpit which I found quite exciting, and my 4-year-old did too until we had to go back down the skinny, steep stairs.  I have a post on about the places we went to if you’d like to hear more about it (and see pictures which I should have up by Monday I hope).

I worked in the visitor center today for part of the day, helping to open and close.  Aurora, the Giant Pacific Octopus who was moved to the front this week, was having a hard day and had the shades put up all around the tank. I hope she will be okay soon. It must be scary to be in such a new place with all these people staring at you. The octopus is really the central exhibit for the VC. Not only is it literally in the center, but many people come mainly to see the octopus. Naturally, they were rather disappointed. I think also the fact that the octopus at the aquarium across the street is always hiding in a dark corner and the exhibit itself is in a dark corner, probably draws people to Hatfield even more. Here they can (usually) get a much better look at this beautiful animal.

I opted not to go to the volunteer barbecue which I’m sure I’ll regret but I had a ton of laundry to do and wanted to catch up on some research after being gone most of the week.

This coming Monday I will have the chance to meet with my mentor Nancee Hunter as well as Shawn Rowe and Mark Farley to go over the plans for the Climate Change exhibit. It’s my opportunity to present the things I’ve researched and then, as a team, we’ll discuss the desired direction of the exhibit. I’m looking forward to working with these great people and getting their feedback and ideas. It will be great to have some concrete direction on the exhibit. I look forward to sharing the valuable information I’ve gathered and fully participating as a member of this team.
I’m gaining a cornucopia of experiences on this internship and I will walk away from this summer having made great connections and refined my skills in teamwork, creativity, organization, interpretation, presentation, and more.

What a whirlwind week!

My brain feels as though it may just shut down from information overload, but I have been totally having a blast!  I’ve taken tons of notes and pictures and written a couple of posts on my personal blog where you can see some of said pictures:

I have really enjoyed the hands on training we’ve had this week.  The other 3 visitor center interns and I spent Tuesday morning gleaning knowledge from estuary experts.  We got to tromp around on the mud flats, where we dug up ghost shrimp and mud shrimp, explored many crab species, and even found a nice sized polychaete.  We got to take a first hand look at the isopod parasites that are plaguing the mud shrimp.  Dr. Chapman was an excellent guide to discuss these important invasive species issues with us.  As far as the estuary, we learned from a great power point presentation and also had the opportunity to go on the tour given by 3 different presenters so we can witness a variety of styles.  We are going two more times over the weekend and this time the public will go along.  We are encouraged to create our own style and realize that every estuary tour is different!  I’m really excited to begin presenting these tours.  I won’t have the responsibility to run these tours on a regular basis like the other 3 interns will, but I hope to be able to do it as frequently as anyone will let me!

Some of the other great hands-on trainings we’ve had were going to the tide pools at Yaquina Head where we found many creatures of interest, particularly (for me) a sunflower sea star and gumboot chiton (the largest chiton in the world), and doing many tours by various experts who graciously gave of their time.  Tim took us on a salt water tour to see where the water is pumped in from the bay at high tide, filtered and sent around the center, and later filtered again and treated before going back to the bay.  I learned about the water treatment methods last year in Environmental Management so it was awesome to see sand filters, settling tanks, and my personal favorite- the pig, first-hand.  Kaety educated us on fisheries.  The aquarists gave us a wealth of information by showing us all the animals on display in the visitor center, and showing us things in the back including how they sedate a fish to work on them (they were removing leaches from a rock fish), and the highlight of the week for me was seeing the Giant Pacific Octopus and getting to let her grab on to my fingers.

Another program I will get to help with in the visitor center is the Ocean Quest presentation.  This showcases Dr. Hanshumaker’s work with the Axial Seamount.  This is an undersea volcano at the Pacific/ Juan de Fuca plate boundary where the ocean floor is thin and spreading.  This presentation educates the public on plate tectonics, volcanism on land and under the sea, and various equipment used to measure seismic indicators such as gas emissions and ground deformation.  As with the estuary walk, I’m excited to give this presentation and hope to be able to do so as often as possible.

The most challenging thing this week was processing all the information I received.  I usually “digest” info by going through my notes and blogging about it to reduce the amount of info into a cohesive unit.  I haven’t completed half of what I’d like to with the notes I collected this week.  I hope to get caught up in the next few days.

Next week I will hopefully be able to lead the estuary walk and continue preparing for the Ocean Quest presentation, and will go through some training on wave energy.  I will also be spending a great deal of time in the library doing research on my project, which is to create the plans for a climate change exhibit for the visitor center.

So far I completely love it here at Hatfield and I am super excited for my internship.  This week has been a wicked kickoff with some experiences I will never forget!