Smiles on the job :)

There have always been smiles in my life because I turned out to be a smiley person with all my crazy mannerisms and  sounds that mean words.  These sounds and mannerisms come out even more when I’m really happy, thus anyone who came into the Hatfield Marine Science Center and saw me would know that I LOVE my job.  This past week has been filled with smiles, not only from me, but from many visitor’s both tall and small.  On Monday, everyone who worked with me was asking me how my vacation was and was so happy that I got a break from the craziness of work.  Also, that day Aurora was fed quite happily and I had many people who said they loved the marine science center and couldn’t wait to come back again next summer.  Then, Tuesday was a great project day because I got to see my wave tank in action even more.  A summer camp with 56 kids and a boy scout troop of 23 came in at the same time and tested out my erosion wave tank.  Also, I got to be at the tide pool touch tanks for most of the morning and have some amazing questions asked by children about the animals and their environment.  On a cool/sad note I got to see a fish necropsy to see why it passed away which was highly informative while the death was a sad state of affairs.

On Wednesday which was my only day off this week, I got to do something quite different.  I went with Hillary to Cascade head and see what she does for her internship.  I got to take pictures of her interviewing many people about their view on marine reserves and taking pressure counts of people at each site.  I saw her interview many types of people from local fisherman to families just traveling to the coast for a few days.  These surveys asked very interesting questions and I got to hear various answers such as people who think marine reserves are great and others who had very strong opinions about how unsuccessful they would be.  Hillary did and is still doing an amazing job for her internship and it was a treat to see her in action was well as get to go to Cascade Head as well as the Lincoln city outlets.  Even at the outlets I got some great deals on jeans and workout clothes :)

The rest of the week was just as amazing as the start and challenges actually didn’t occur this week.  Many people may consider that boring, just like how a story without conflict is boring, but smiles are never boring to me.  I got to do more estuary tours, even one with 32 people on it! So many people, but I still got asked some highly intelligent questions.  Then, I showed a girl scout troop from Redmond, OR through the VC.  There were 10 7-8th graders and their leaders.  They were fascinated that I was a lifetime girl scout as well as a broze, silver and gold award winner.  They asked me so many questions and all were different from girl scout ideas to my time as a girly girl scout to marine science.  The VC was really cool to them and that made me smile even more.  Yet, the most exciting thing that made me smile was………….learning to be a feeder! I got to feed every animal in the VC except the octopus such as sea anemones, rock fish, wolf eel and much more.  I traveled around the whole VC with my cart accompanied by Harrison, Kristen (aquarists) and Julie! Together, we fed all the animals a wide variety of food items.  It was one of the best learning experiences I have had at Hatfield and I can’t believe I was so lucky.

Next week I’m sure will also be filled with smiles but also with a little bit of sadness since this will be my last blog post of the summer .  There will also be sadness because my new made friends will all be leaving while Brian, Nick and I stay for another 10 days until the VC changes over to winter hours.  This summer has been filled with crazy, exciting and magical moments that I will keep forever in my memory.  Thanks for everything and I hope for all the best not only in the future of my project, but also all of our OSG Scholar’s futures.

Here we go!

This past week has been very interesting for me because it was mainly vacation time.  Yet, before my vacation time occurred I did do a lot of work at the VC.  First of all, at the beginning of the week I had some of the same duties as I usually do.  I did Ocean Quest for Sunday and Monday and I’m starting to feel more and more comfortable with it.  I’m starting to get a groove with a 25-30 min presentation and have a pretty good feel for each crowd.  That way I can tailor the presentation to them, such as whether there are many adults, children, or young adults/ college students.  The VC was normal as usual and Aurora seems to be doing much better in the tank.  Then, on Tuesday we had a real project day which was amazing to have.  I got to change the water out of my shore erosion tank as well as make completely new signs for the tank.  This is the third sign change, and each sign has evolved.  Now the shore erosion tank has 2 signs.  One says “The Erosion Problem” and this is where we talk about making a beach, move the paddle steady and see the erosion occurring.  Then, the second sign says “The Erosion Solution” and this is where I give three examples of shore erosion solutions and say to try ONE of them.  We were already seeing great progress with the Beach Erosion Challenge, hopefully more progress will occur with these new signs.  In addition, these new signs are made of much thicker laminent, thus they stand up much better than the flimsy beach erosion challenge signs.

The main things I did this week was……..VACATION! I was on vacation from Wednesday to Sunday and it was amazing.  I went to Vancouver, BC, Seattle, Portland, and Tillamook.  In Vancouver, BC I stayed at a hostel in a tiny room with 4 other girls (2 from England, 2 from Germany), but it was cheap.  My hostel was also really close to public transport to get to Stanley park where the Vancouver Aquarium is located and Science World was right down the street. I spent a LONG time at the Vancouver Aquarium and once I mentioned I volunteered at the Baltimore Aquarium and working at Hatfield for the summer the special treatment started to roll in instantly.  I got to see the dolphins up close and even get a kiss from willow the sea lion.  I also got to see some behind the scenes aquarist workshops and lastly I got some business cards to be an intern there or for a job interview.  Thus, an amazing experience and one that doesn’t come very often.  At Science World I got to see an IMAX movie about the Rocky Mountains and building the transcontinental Canadian Pacific train through those mountains.  Yet, the main reason I went to this place was to see the DaVinci exhibit where I got to see his journal entries, his machines from the journal entries built, hands on exhibits about his inventions, his original art pieces and a whole exhibit on the Mona Lisa.  This exhibit to an art historian (or art history minor like myself) was spectacular.  The rest of Science world was cool as well with many hands on exhibits about physical science as well as biology and chemistry.  Needless to say it was a long day, but totally worth it.  I left the next day for Seattle and that was a crazy trip as well.

Seattle brought me the Seattle Aquarium, Pike’s Place, Ferry rides, many hills, and Seattle Center with the Pacific Science center, concerts at the mural and MOD pizza!  My day of exploring alone brought me to the Pacific Science Center where I did see another IMAX on mummies in Egypt and all the other exhibits, but the real deal was King Tut!  That was worth the whole trip, because not only did I get to see so much ancient Egyptian history that I studied at my college, but it was all in 1 place.  I ended up leading my own tour because I was explaining to a middle ages couple about the sculptures that were around them.  Before I knew it, 4 families and a security guard were listening to me as I answered many questions and explained the history and art behind each piece.  It was spectacular to see all of this history in real perspective compared to on a screen in a classroom.   Then, when I was done there, I came out and there was concert at the murals randomly and I got to see 3 Seattle bands as well as get lots of free stuff.  Then, Hillary;s family was lovely and let us all (Maryna, Kate and I) stay at their house.  They also fed us delicious food all the time and we caught up on all our Olympic games we have been missing.  Then, after a day with my housemates at Pike’s place, Ferries, Seattle Aquarium and a fantastic dinner, we slept and left for Newport.  On the way home, we went to Portland to Powell’s books (got 3 books for under $10), a Sunday market, Tillamook cheese factory to drop off Maryna for field work and even saw some whales on our way to Newport.

Now that my vacation is over, work is about to begin.  I need to not only work on my VC project and my regular duties as an education intern, I also need to work on my final presentation.  This will mostly likely be the largest challenge since it has to be done in 11 days, but I’m always up for a challenge.  Working days here I come :)

Preparing for the end

Well it has definitely been an interesting time here at Hatfield.  We have had some bright sunny and very warm days and then it changes completely to a fog bank that makes me unable to see even the bridge that crosses over the Yaquina Bay.  This past week I did get 2 days off like regular and during that time I slept, watched olympics, did laundry and planned out more of my vacation.  At work, I got to meet some more amazing volunteers and visitors that made my time here much more fun.  I got to do some awesome aquarist work where I got to inject lemon juice (acidic) into aplasia which is a coral invasive.  Doing that, taught me a lot about how to keep a tropical fish aquarium clean and healthy.  I also was able to siphon the tank by myself, which meant I got to change the tropical water and decide how to treat it correctly.  I was also able to see Auroras beak! It was a spectacular thing to see and I may never see an octopus beak again, but now not only do I have memories of it, I also have pictorial evidence as a reminder of my sensational summer here at Hatfield.

My wave tank though is at a standstill right now.  Both my mentors and I are now at the next stage of progress that will require a lot more than just signs and sand.  We need to start making real stainless steel tables and other items that are more than I can do myself.  Which means mainly that time is now an even larger factor, but I’m hoping for all the best.  I still get to see all the different things kids imaginations make with my freshwater wave erosion tank and that still poses some fun challenges for my job.  Ocean quest keeps getting better and better as I get more and more comfortable with it.  I also get to hear more stories about the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption in 1980 which gives me more facts to talk about as the presentations keep going.  People told me how they had to wrap their air filters in toilet paper every few miles to make sure they didn’t breathe in ash as they drove to work each day.  Some said they still has ash from 1980 in the woods of their backyard. It’s crazy learning all about the different experiences people have had with volcanos and earthquakes especially when they’ve had experiences all through their lives.  Then, estuary walks are always amazing because no matter how many people you have or the age differences between the people I still always have an amazing time and I learn more and more after each estuary tour.   Also, each estuary tour is different since the tide is different from being a low tide or a high tide, and of course the people change each day.

The main things I have to look forward to are a five day weekend which involves me going to Vancouver, Canada for 3 days and then meeting up with my other housemates (kate, maryna and hillary) in Seattle for a few days.  I get to take the amtrak train on the west coast for the first time.  Everyone keeps saying I’ll see some beautiful views along the way, so I only have high hopes for the trip :)  I also can’t wait to see if more progress can be made on my wave tank while I’m gone and then when I get back.  Mainly because once I get back I only have 11 days before our final presentation to get everything together.  Wish me luck and a great vacation time!

Working forever…….?

I have seen more and more that work can have crazy busy times and super slow times.  I have been working for 7 days straight and will continue to work 3 more days.  Yet, these hard times at work will bring me a long awaited vacation of 5 days.  I have bought train tickets to go to Vancouver, British Columbia and Seattle, Washington, more about that later.  At work, I have been doing various things such as estuary walks and ocean quest.  There have been some amazing days at work.  There were days this week where I was completely amazed by the public and it made me feel on top of the world.  I had one couple in particular that went on my estuary walk and asked millions of questions that I could actually answer and they said they were so happy with my tour and welcoming attitude.  They talked to me constantly in the visitor’s center, I even talked them into staying for the eye level tank feeding and ocean quest.  They even went up to McKenzie to say how happy they were with me and how this experience was one they would not forget easily.  That day, I felt like I was really accomplishing something this summer and making a difference in people’s lives.

For challenges, the public was a large one; whether it was trying to understand the public in general or dealing with them in my project.  We had many foreigners come to Hatfield this week including Portuguese researchers and Japanese researchers to see our wave energy areas so I had to put on the shmoozing and know my wave energy research.  It was definitely a challenge when someone who knows way more about wave energy and shore erosion is asking you questions about your project and the goals of the exhibit.  Especially when there’s a 5 year old right there not following directions and basically destroying your project.  Yet, it  did make me feel empowered when I could fully answer their questions and get my point across clearly.

While I work for the next couple a days I mainly am looking ahead and seeing what I can improve upon at my job.  My project will need some more work, especially one how to keep the water from getting so dirty and murky after only one day.  I’m hoping the tsunami tank will be ready to go by Monday or Tuesday.  I’m also excited for more aquarist work such as seeing how the nudibranch  eggs develop and figuring out more about salmon.  Things like this keep my job interesting, I only await more fun to begin.

DaVinci Days and Power Surges…

What a whirlwind time I’ve had this past week with not only project days, getting ready for DaVinci days, but also just having a 4 day weekend with some work.  My week started off with Aurora still not being as social as Squirt was when he was in the tank, but she still was good during feedings and would come out every so often.  I’m also doing more aquarist work; I got to de-leech more rockfish and check out some awesome animals brought into the Visitor’s Center like huge sand shrimp that are really pale and much larger than anything the aquarists have seen before.    This week, I was also able to work on my wave tank more by putting out new Beach Erosion Challenge signs.  These new signs seem to help a lot and have definitely cut down on the bad behavior while increasing the good behavior and knowledge.  I also helped Nick with his tsunami structures for a bit which was definitely something different, but cool to learn about!

The main thing I loved about my work week was going to DaVinci Days in Corvallis, Oregon.  First, there was the mid-summer check-in where I got to see where everyone else are in their projects.  It was awesome, because everyone is doing something different and everyone’s excited about their projects/ what they’re doing.  I especially like hearing about the differences the people who are doing policy work and others who are in the field all day.  Then came the most awesome part of the week/ weekend…..dun dun dunnnnnnnnn…..DAVINCI DAYS!!!! Oh My Gosh, it was spectacular.  On  Saturday, I volunteered from 1-6pm at the Oregon Sea Grant booth where I talked to various people.  Yet, before that I explored the DaVinci Days park area and watch the parade with all the human powered kinetic structures.  During the morning/ afternoon hours of Saturday I made various clay objects, my own print by etching in plexi-glass my own design and placing ink on it, gel beads, UV bead bracelets, star charts and more.  I also got free Odwalla products such as shakes and energy bars.  I got pretty much every free thing available there as well as did as many free things as I could including clay making and printmaking.

This week is going to be long since i’m working 10 days in a row, but I’m excited for new challenges in the wave energy exhibit and things like POWER SURGES 20 min before closing.  Thus, we have to restart all of the monitors and computer devices in the whole visitor’s center for the 5 people that were left.  It was an interesting task since some of the computer CPU’s are underneath tables, cabinets and hidden away so visitor’s won’t play around with them.I’m definitely becoming even more technologically skilled through this job and I’m excited for more challenges to present themselves.  Bring it on world, let’s test my skills!

Wave tank extravaganza!

Who knew that my wave tank would cause such chaos?!? This past week we opened up the erosion wave tank to the public with certain items such as large rocks to represent rip rap, bags of gravel to represent dynamic reventment, plastic vegetation, legos to represent a seawall.  There were also a small squeegee to design the sand with and to move the sand from one end of the tank to the other end.  I wasn’t sure if we should open it to the public yet because there weren’t any signs around or directions really and there weren’t any containers for the objects.  In addition, 2 school groups with 20 kids each ranging from 1st graders to 6th graders were going to use the tank when it first opened.  Oh Man, it was crazy!!! Kids were created such imaginative things in the sand that I wouldn’t even be able to think of it.  Their minds were amazing and I was happy I got to see them at work.   I was a lurker this past week to see how different people used the tank and I got some great feedback and notes on it.  Overall, this past week I’ve been working at the front desk and touch tank most of the day while doing estuary tours and the Ocean Quest presentation.  One of the main fun things I did was go to the Volunteer and Staff picnic where I got to talk to volunteers and staff a like in a more casual setting with good food and good conversation.  I had a blast and got some terrific leftovers like awesome tuna stakes and hamburgers plus dessert.

It looks like Aurora the octopus is adjusting to the tank in the visitor’s center.  She is showing small signs of stress.  We have her shrouded and in the dark to try and help her but it makes it hard for the visitor’s that come specifically to see the octopus or feeding it.  We had to cancel the feeding this past Saturday which upset some people, but most understand that Aurora is a live animal, not our pet.  Hopefully we can help her and make her feel more at home :)

Tomorrow, I will be thoroughly working on my wave tank.  I’m gonna try some new methods with the tank like putting in new ramps to distribute the sand or new toys that will be more durable in the tank for kids of all ages.  I  went to the Lincoln county festival and it wasn’t too shabby.  I got some good fair food, saw a few animals and rode a few rides.  Overall, for the $5 admission fee, it was worth it.  Also, I got sleep in on my weekend (Wednesdays and Thursdays) as well as go to seal rock and the historic bayfront of Newport.  My next stop at the Bayfront will be local ocean, because I love seafood and I hear it’s the place to go.

New Octopus and Movie!

You know when an announcer talks over the PA system at a grocery store or department store and you ask yourself, “What’s she saying?…Huh?”…That’s what I feel like.  I talk on the PA system quite a bit and for many different reasons.  To announce the estuary walk, ocean quest as well as movies. All of these announcements have made my voice become scratchy as well as highly known to the Visitor’s center staff.  At least the other staff members say they can hear me loud and clear on the PA system and quite like it.  Even with all the ocean quest presentations, estuary walks and announcements, the newest and coolest thing that occurred this week was the new octopus being put in.  First of all, Aurora (new octopus) is very friendly and moves around the tank quite a bit.  Also, moving all the sea creatures that live in the tank with her like sea anemones and sea stars needed to be taken out and the tank cleaned; that job is a huge deal in itself.  Squirt will be put back into the visitor’s center tank in 3 weeks, so for now our lovely aurora will be on displey.

Overall, I learned so much this week including different ways to give the estuary tour, how to present Ocean Quest, and a delicate way to tell people that they have misidentified a sea creature such as that sunflower sea star is not an octopus.  I love that I keep learning more and more about how to be an aquarist and what goes on in the sea creature tanks as well as what goes on behind the scenes.  Challenges come up all the time since I know less about the state of Oregon and some of the marine like here than the volunteers, but overcoming them is becoming easier and easier as time goes on.

I’m really excited that I found someone living at Hatfield who also has Wednesdays and Thursdays as their weekend and has a car.  That way I can do more new things such as sand dune surfing, scuba diving, going to Tillamook and various other things.  Also, it’s awesome that she plays rugby, that way I can  have more rugby talks with someone here.  I am exited to be planning my 4 day trip that includes 2 days in Vancouver, Canada and 2 days in Seattle, Washington.  It’s not until mid-August, but I still cannot wait.  For the Visitor’s center, the only knew things for me will be working more and more on my section of the wave energy tanks and trying to feed our new octopus.

My section of wave energy is about how it effects erosion on sandy shorelines.  I’m really excited because we got brand new sand that works really well in the tank, new items to put in the tank such as mesh bags with gravel to show dynamic reventment and rocks to simulate riprack.  My advisers love my ideas so far and my enthusiasm for my project.  The visitor’s center is supposed to open it up to the public next week, but we’ll see how it goes.  Sometimes water, toys, sand and kids don’t mix.  Yet, I have the highest of hopes for it and have more ideas to put towards it.  Lego’s, plastic plants, rocks, sand, blocks and other fun things get put in my tank and so far it’s working out well.  Even if my project is not totally ready, I still want kids to be able to try it out, because it’s one thing for 20-40 year old to love it, will a 10 year old? Also, will that 10 year old understand what it’s supposed to show? Children are the future and should be treated as such, thus I need to make sure my project is fun, informational and child-proof…looks like I’ve got some work ahead of me! Wish me luck!!!!

Will my voice ever be the same?

It’s only the second week and I’m already learning and being tested on so much information about not only the Oregon Coast, but also biology itself.  While mainly working the front desk this week at the Hatfield Marine Science visitor’s center, I talked to visitor’s constantly.  I welcome them, ask where they’re from, give them a 30 second tour of the visitor’s center, ask for a donation and then send them on they’re merry way.  I also work at the tide pool touch tank where I teach people to touch gently and actually what’s in the touch tank to begin with.  Lastly, my main job is to lead the estuary walk and give insight into what an estuary is and what happens there.  Does my job end there? NO! Lies completely!!! I get to do so much more!!! Not only do I get to work with marine education, I also get to work with the aquarists.  Already since I have been here I have done water quality tests on the “west wing” water, fixed problems with tanks in the visitor’s center and got to “de-leech” rock fish! Oh yeah! I have been walking around, helping visitor’s and learning more and more about Oregon from everyone around me.

I definitely had to face a few challenges this week, but they were mainly because of my left knee. Earlier in the summer I had torn part of my ACL, LCL, Meniscus and brusied the knee bone.  This left me needing an ACL derotation brace and I had to get it here. Too bad the nearest orthopedic and prosthesis place that takes my health insurance is in Corvallis! Thus, figuring out my work schedule to take days off and finding a way to get to corvallis was an interesting task all on its own.  Yet, it was all worth it because now I can move around with ease and feel much safer all around.

One of the main things that was completely new was touching our giant pacific octopus Squirt! It was awesome!!! He even almost came out of the tank, but we got him.  I got to interact with him and help him move through the circular hole that is placed between the front of the tank and the back of the tank.  It was amazing to see this creature move and interact with visitor’s all while learning about him and his tendencies. Yet, definitely one of the most amazing things that has happened to me so far is how welcomed I feel.  The volunteer’s, aquarists and my supervisors have all made me feel like I am one of the family and that I am completely worthy of working at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.  Next week that main things to face will be fixing exhibits, dealing with large groups coming to the visitor’s center all at once and becoming even more acquainted with the science behind the center.  Bring it on!

Oregon…What is this place?

As a native east coast resident of Maryland and having never been to Oregon or the Pacific coast really, I was shocked at what Oregon was like.  When I first arrived it was cold and rainy; while in Maryland it does rain a good bit during the summer, it’s mainly summer showers that come in large thunderstorms compared to a drizzle all day long.  This week I was trained at the Hatfield Marine Science Center with a boat load of things including leading an estuary walk, a presentation about detecting earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and various other things including fishery knowledge and animal husbandry.  All of this information was amazing because I learned so much not only about biology and education, but the Oregon coast as well.

I learned all about the cold upwelling that occurs in the Pacific ocean as well as the axial seamount that is created by the Pacific plate and Juan de Fuca plate spreading.  This axial seamount is an underwater volcano that we don’t worry about with mega thrust earthquakes or tsunamis because it regularly erupts compared to becoming pressurized and then having a mega thrust earthquake and volcanic eruption.  I’ve never been very interested in plate tectonics, earthquakes or volcanoes, but having to do a presentation about them has made me very interested and wonder more about them.  So much technology is being created to detect this events soon especially technologies that are used underwater.  Many challenges come with these technologies like the pressure of the water and the fact that the deep sea is dark.  Challenges have been seen throughout this week such as learning all this new information to start work on Saturday and learning more about the west coast so I can answer guest questions at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

Next week is going to be a huge challenge because it will be the start of my actual job of leading estaury walks and working in the Marine Science Center.  I feel like I’m ready for some things, but not all since I’m not as familiar with the environment.  Yet, I have high hopes for all of us summer interns and I hope we’ll be able to learn more and more as the summer goes on.  Especially since while doing all of the 40 hour a week work, we also have to do a project and create a plan for it that’s due 2 weeks from now.  My life will certainly be busy to say the least, but i’m up for the challenge.  Playing volleyball, talking to home friends online and just getting to more people here at HMSC has really helped me get into the groove of things.  My hope is that only more fun is to come and that mosquitoes will go down in number.