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A Summer of Growth

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

I cannot believe how quickly this summer has flown by! It feels like just a few days ago I was at the WRCA office working on writing my first blog post. Now, I’m back at my school library, trying to find a way to summarize everything I’ve learned and experienced.

This summer was my first time living somewhere away from home other than on a college campus. I had to learn how to cook, clean, pay for laundry and problem solve on my own. This experience in itself was invaluable because it taught me how to become a real adult, especially now that I am officially no longer a teenager.

I learned how to work with people who may have opinions or ideas I don’t agree with, and how to speak up for myself when I feel I need to. I figured out that a desk job is not my profession of choice, but also how to make office work manageable. A skill I was hoping to improve on was my networking skills, and I was presented with many opportunities to do so this summer.

I think my biggest take-away from this summer is how passionate each and every person I met was about what they were doing. I didn’t meet a single individual who didn’t love what they did every day. In a world where us students are pushed towards jobs that bring the most profit, it’s inspiring to see that you can always find a way to do what you love and care about.

In summary, this summer has been life changing, although a lot of how I’ve grown cannot be put to words. Needless to say, I am so grateful to Oregon Sea Grant and all of those I met and/or worked with this summer. I will hold this experience close to my heart and can’t wait to do more with Sea Grant in the future!

under: Uncategorized

A Summer in Paradise

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

As I stepped onto that American Airlines flight in Phoenix, gladly escaping the imminent desert heat of 110+ degrees, I did not know what to expect but I knew that I had to make the most of my journey. I always thought of Oregon as “that random box-shaped state with a bunch of hippy, tree loving people” with nothing much else to offer. Well…let’s just say that I was happy to be proven wrong and that Oregon has been in fact one of the greatest states I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. If you have read any of my previous posts, then you know a little bit about the amazing adventures I have been on and my appreciation for Oregon State University.

My project was challenging at times, but it gave me an insight on what it is like to work in a collaborative manner with faculty members from different departments and organizations. One of the main aspects of the project that I personally enjoyed was being able to work on an initiative specifically for the cause of Native American students. It was fantastic to know that OSU wants to address the need to increase high school graduation and college entrance rates among Native American tribes in Oregon and throughout the country. As a summer scholar, I was able to help the program gather information pertaining to American Indian and Alaska Native student populations in the nation and developed two surveys for distribution at a later stage in the project. I hope the program will continue to succeed and achieve the goals that it has set out to. It was quite wonderful to learn about the history of Native American tribes in this part of the country and I was beyond excited to have had the opportunity to attend a Pow Wow on the Siletz reservation.

Another aspect about the OSG program that I enjoyed was having the opportunity to learn more about the Pacific Northwest region and about how climate change is affecting the agriculture and farming industries here in Oregon. Coming from Arizona, we rarely hear information pertaining to coastal regions, unless you specifically seek out this information or know someone within the scientific and environmental fields researching these issues. This summer was the first time that I learned about “The Blob” and about the declining and migratory populations of marine species that is occurring as a direct result of climate change. It was an eye opening summer of learning to say the least!

To conclude my travels, I will be taking one last road trip with my mother to visit the Tillamook cheese factory where I am planning to gorge on as many dairy products as I can and then continue on to Cannon Beach. It is saddening that I have to leave this amazing state in less than a week, but Oregon will always have a special place in my heart! A million thank you’s to the Oregon Sea Grant organization for allowing me to have had this once in a lifetime opportunity, I will never forget it! As for my fellow scholars, I will miss you all greatly and wish everyone the best in their junior/senior years and beyond. You are all phenomenal individuals that are going to do some great things in the world and I’m happy to have had the pleasure of meeting you all!!!

All of the amazing Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars!

Until next time Oregon…I will be back for Marionberry shakes at Burgerville!!!!

P.S. I FINALLY figured out how to add pictures!

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This summer has been full of learning opportunities, interesting times in Portland, and making great connections with others. Working at a cubicle was by no means my first choice this summer but looking back I couldn’t have asked for a better internship! My aspirations to help salmon and steelhead populations could not be better achieved than to assess the impacts that climate change will have on them. Research on salmon and steelhead has reached new heights in the last decade thanks to technological advancements such as PIT tag technology (used in some pets), genetics, and modeling.

To start, not a lot has been understood about the life history of salmon and steelhead until we were able to track and monitor their migrations. PIT tags and acoustic tags have helped researchers track where in the ocean these fish go to feed and undergo metamorphosis. Although we have been able to establish migratory routes for many of these fish one thing that we need to better understand is the diversity of life histories that exist with these species. Some anadromous fish spend only a year in the ‘salt’ (as anglers say) while others spend two to five years in the salt. As you can imagine this results in huge differences in the size and fecundity of the fish. Because salmon are semelparous, meaning they put all their energy into one large reproductive event, size does matter. Bigger fish produce more eggs and therefore have higher fitness than smaller fish. One concern for salmonids in the ocean is that the longer the fish spends time in the ocean the more likely it is to be caught by fishing boats, prey, or die due to pathogens and disease. Currently research is being conducted to better understand alternative life cycles of salmonids and what can be done to increase their chances of recovery in the Pacific Northwest.

Another fascinating and fairly new technology is genetic analysis. One interesting finding is that some parents contribute more to the next generation more than others. A hypothetical example is if two all star athletes produce offspring compared to if two people with poor health produce offspring. The all star offspring are more likely to survive and pass on their genes to the following generation. This is important because if we remove the all stars through fishing we may reduce the fitness of subsequent generations. These kinds of studies are being conducted throughout the range of salmonids to analyze the effects of hatchery fish breeding with wild fish.

Lastly, models have come a far way by having a better understanding of what assumptions must be put into the model. As we learn more about the ecology of salmonids models can be improved to better represent the reality of population cycles. One difficulty that remains in modeling is taking into account genetic interactions with hatchery fish as well as how does a one year salt fish breeding with a three year salt fish effect fitness. These small details are hard to account for in models and often time little is known about these interactions to begin with.

My work will play a role in addressing the impacts of projects that affect salmonids in light of the struggles they face with climate change. I am looking forward to seeing my work applied in the NEPA process as well as continuing to work with salmon and steelhead in the future. Thank you Sea Grant for helping me follow my passions!

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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.

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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


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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

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