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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

After nine weeks of working, learning, and getting to know Newport, my time here is almost over. A lot has happened in past few weeks since my last blog posts, including many first and lasts for the summer.

I started these past 3 weeks with my last field day in the Trask River in Tillamook. We did a second run-through of the experiment quantifying in-stream processing so that we could have a second set of data and include a dark treatment. Once we got back to the lab, I sorted the containers and set aside the rocks for later so that I can measure the volume of the rocks and use this to better quantify photosynthesis and respiration rates – one of the projects I have for my last week.

Storing containers with river rocks from my last field day. The volume of these rocks will be measured this week to account for volume in my photosynthesis and respiration rates.

Running my last set of samples on the Burkolator

Once I was all finished with field work and running samples, it was time for data analysis! I had 3 days after gathering all my data to process them and create a final poster and presentation. Here’s the final poster that I created:

A screenshot of my final poster

But most of the time, processing data actually looked more like this:

A screenshot of one of many sheets on one of many excel workbooks as I try to piece together the data.

I have never processed large data sets before, and I learned that this process is very messy but fun. Compiling and making sense of the data brings up just as many questions as it answers. For example, when I look at the changes in dissolved oxygen as compared to total carbon dioxide in a container, preliminary graphs show me that there is a fairly linear relationship between the two. But that brings into question: is it best to use the concentration of oxygen or the percent saturation in this comparison? How can I compare changes in the containers to changes in the stream when the containers are staying in place but open the water is moving through many different areas? How can I find a way to visually present the connections that I am making in my head? What do I do about the four ugly data points that seem to be off?

And then of course: How do I present this all in just 5 minutes?

Trying to find a way to present my findings turned out to be a great way to learn more about the subject. In order to be able to explain the observed changes to others, I had to solidify my understanding of the processes underlying the changes we were seeing in water conditions as well as making the calculations and the graphs. This process was challenging and fun, and the symposium on August 17 was a great way to conclude this part of my project and see what everyone else has been working on.

So what now?

I may have presented my findings last Friday, but the project is not over yet! Over the next week, I have plenty to keep me busy: measuring the volume of the rocks collected to normalize for volume, cleaning up the many excel documents used to compile and graph data, improving the meta data on the documents I have produced, finding a way to account for loss of dissolved oxygen from air exchange, and making sure all the files I have created over the course of the summer are accessible to others once I leave.

After this week, I will keep working on this project remotely. We intend to continue processing data, and I intend to write a manuscript for my WWU Honors Program Senior Project requirements as well as the possibility of publishing this work alongside my mentors in a journal.

I also intend to go to all of my favorite places at least one last time: Ollala Lake, Bier One, South Beach State Park, and the “hammock tree,” to name just a few.

Newport, you have been good to me.

under: Uncategorized

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

Last weekend I concluded my fieldwork for both Otter Rock and Cascade Head 2018 intertidal monitoring for ODFW. On Saturday we finished community mussel bed surveys that examined the intertidal community for potential changes from reduced populations of sea stars caused by wasting in 2014. For this we meet at Otter Rock at 5:20am while it was still pitch black outside. We proceeded to walk to the site in the dark using the light from a few headlamps and phones.

Heading to site at Otter Rock before dawn

For this survey we measured the height and depth of the mussel bed, abundance of mussel predators (sea stars and whelks), and counted mussel recruits. We count the whelks because they may take over the role of controlling the lower limit of the mussel bed. This is normally the role of sea stars (especially Pisaster ochraceus) but their populations are significantly reduced due to wasting.

Counting mussel recruits at Otter Rock 

Whelk: predator of mussels

On Sunday I woke up before sunrise again. At 5am I was on my way to Cascade Head to complete the last sea star wasting survey of 2018. And good news was that we saw very little wasting sea stars! Unfortunately though three of our transects that we sample were under water even with the -1.9 tide. In previous months and years there had been more sand that made the pools shallower allowing for ODFW to count sea stars in those areas but this year the sand was all washed away and we were not able to sample them. We were still able to survey around 200 sea stars during the belt transect and over 200 sea stars for the timed searches.

Timed search surveys at Cascade Head


Timed search survey at Cascade Head

Once I finished the fieldwork I had to enter my data and analyze it before the final presentations we gave on Friday. It lead to a couple of very busy days but I was able to finish everything. For those of you who were unable to come to the final presentations I will give a brief summary of what I found. The biggest conclusion was that sea stars are very healthy! Since 2015 when monitoring began the percentage of sea stars showing signs of wasting has deceased to very minimal levels (below 2%) at both sites by 2018. The other big conclusion I determined was that population of sea stars remained similar to 2015 over the four years based on densities. There was some fluctuation but it was not statistically significant at Cascade Head and for Otter Rock it was only one year having slightly higher densities but then it dropped back down the next year. There are two main possibilities to explain why we aren’t seeing an increase in densities over the four years. One is that by 2015 populations had already recovered from sea star wasting. The other explanation is that four years is not enough time to see recovery and it will take more years of monitoring to observe an increase in sea star density indicating that they have recovered.

For those of you who came to the final presentations, thank you for your support. And for those who are reading and were unable to come, I hope you enjoyed learning about my project and you can check out a picture of my poster below:

Presenting my poster


under: Uncategorized

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

I still can’t believe that I only have two more week until my final presentation and three weeks left in total.

The first couple of weeks, I spent a lot of time researching the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as mentioned in my earlier blogs. I had questions which I did not have a solid answers too. The questions I faced was, what happens when two listed species overlap. An example of this is the Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) and the Chinook salmon. Last week a SRKW gave birth, unfortunately the newborn did not make it. Since then, the mother still carries the dead newborn on its nose as it migrates with the pod. We don’t know how long this will last, and how much stress this puts on the mother. Unlike other killer whales, SRKW feed primarily on Chinook salmon. From what is happening with the SRKW, people are raising question to provide food for the SRKW. Well, what does this mean? This mean hatcheries will have to crank up Chinook production. However, there is a downside to increasing salmon production. Increasing hatcheries production may increase risk towards Chinook salmon which are also listed. This is a challenging question to answer when prioritizing one species over the other could bring one specie to extinction which defeats the purpose of the ESA. This situation becomes increasing complex given we have very little information on the populations dynamics and rapid changes in climate altering ecosystems.

This week I went down to Bend with Wesley, another Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar. We did a six hours hike up to Broken Top. The first portion of the hike was great because we had a huge cloud hovering over us as we climb up in elevation. Luckily the sun was not beating down on us. There was a part in the hike which was very sketchy. The path was very narrow and the gravel was unstable, not to mention there was some snow and nothing for us to grip on with our hands as we slowly move across. Aside from the scary part of the hike. The view was fantastic! Broken top in front, Three Sisters Mountain, Mt. Bachelors and many more. We kept hiking until we reached the lake at the bottom of Broken Top. The lake had no name which is why I think they named it No Name Lake. By the time we had reached the lake we were exhausted, and decided to dip into the lake before heading back to the trail head. I planned on hiking Crater Lake the next morning but after this hike, my legs had enough. Crater Lake would have to wait another day.

On our way back to Portland, we took a detour towards Warm Springs. I heard there was a hot springs there and I wanted to see the Eastern parts of Oregon. The Eastern part of Oregon was of course drier, however the landscape was very nice. Before we reached the hot springs we encountered wild horses. They were grazing along the side of the road and blocking the road. I’ve never seen a wild horse. They were well groomed and their colors varied unlike the domesticated horses I’ve seen. We finally reached the hot springs without running any wild horse over. The hot spring was not what I had in mind. It was a swimming pool with two slides similar to a water park. We came all this way, so I had to get into the water and at least slide down the slides. It was 30 feet high. I wanted to get a thrill in before we hit the road again. Until next blog, that is all I have for now.

under: Uncategorized

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

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

At the end of my last blog post, I left you hanging with what is human dimension research and how does it play into my work this summer. If you haven’t looked up the definition in the last two weeks, or read blog posts by my fellow Summer Scholars,human dimension research examines how we interact with and utilize the environment around us. This information is commonly gathered through surveying the general populous, as well as specific interest groups. For instance, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has conducted surveys at various marine reserves to understand how who is visiting these areas, in addition to their overall experience while at the reserve. When looking at this “who?” question, surveyors may look at everything from education level to income to ethnicity to what city exactly the person in question lives. In order for a natural area to garner more attention, and in turn building up public’s desire to protect nature, surveyors may also question what can be done better. Sometimes it is providing more facilities, such as campgrounds or hotels at which travelers can stay, or picnic tables where families can eat their lunch. In other instances, it may be offering more educational programs so guests understand the value of the refuge, reserve, park, etc…


In my case, Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) has been looking to gain a better understanding as to where our visitors come from and if they both understand and value this unique place. While the organization has collected a great deal of data for over fifteen years, including the number of people we talk to during a shift and the number of people walking on the rocks instead of the sand, they have never delved into the background of these visitors. Therefore, my human dimension research centered on a survey that asked our guests these questions. I utilized a platform called Survey123 by ArcGIS to create the survey, as with ArcGIS’s technology we were able to ask people to pinpoint exactly where they live. This was an important component to HRAP as we talk to people from all over the world, not to mention many people who have lived here in Cannon Beach for a long time.


Based on my interactions on the beach and speaking with staff members who have been with the organization ranging from a year and a half to over sixteen years, I knew that the survey needed to have a range of questions – some of which were directed more specifically towards locals and some which more highlighted the experience of tourists. I also knew that while some people had never visited Haystack Rock, we also have a large portion of visitors who have come back for many years. Given all of this information, I built the survey with a few distinctive sections in mind. Like many surveys, I began with demographic questions, the most important of which being where does the person live. Other questions in this section focused on their socioeconomic background, including gender, age, income, and ethnicity among other personal details. It is important to note that the person was free to skip any question which they did not feel comfortable answering.


The next section centered around the frequency with which the person visited Haystack Rock and what brought them to our reserve. Questions encompassed the number of times and how recently they had visited, how they first heard about us, and why they visited Haystack Rock. Obviously, the format of the question varied between local and tourist, but each addressed the same question – why do you visit the Rock? Within this portion of the survey, I also wanted to find out just how well known our organization was to those who had not been to Haystack Rock before. HRAP is constantly trying to spread its presence as we believe this is one of the ways we can help ensure the conservation of the Rock.


The final section moved a little more into the nitty-gritty scientific details. For one, we were curious as to whether or not the public understood that Haystack Rock is actually two different parts of the same whole according to US Fish and Wildlife Service. One part being the Marine Garden, or intertidal area littered with smaller rocks, while the other is the rock standing at 235 feet tall, which is part of the Oregon Islands Wildlife Refuge. Our theory when formulating the survey was that many people perceive our asking them not to stand on the rocks as HRAP’s personal rule, when in fact it is a federal regulation. To test this, a few questions were dedicated to the subject’s understanding of these regulations. The other half of the section asked whether education and enforcement needed to be improved/expanded at Haystack Rock as well as up and down the coast in other natural areas.

Can you tell what is the Marine Garden and what is the Wildlife Refuge based on this photo? Photo Credit: Haystack Rock Awareness Program

There is much more to the survey than what I have simplified it to in this blog post, so please check it out in the link below. Even better, if you have been to Haystack Rock, please take the survey! It only takes a few minutes and I am trying to get as many responses as possible in the next week. I am not including any of the results I have gathered to this point in this post because I don’t want it to skew anyone’s responses.


On a completely unrelated note, I cannot believe I only have two weeks left here in Oregon before I return to the Sunshine State, but I have seen some incredible places and met some even more incredible people!

under: Uncategorized

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