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And That’s That!

Posted by: | August 28, 2017 | 3 Comments |

Having perused the previous Summer Scholar’s blog posts when applying for this program, I read that not only will you learn a great deal about yourself, research, and science, you will form connections with people who will serve as role models and friends long after the program ends. At the time, I knew that this would be a great experience, but I was not aware of just how meaningful those students’ statements were until now as I write this final blog post. More on that in a moment; first I want to reflect on the final week of this program. As always, it was full of positive experiences. The final weekend consisted of presenting at the Final Symposium, celebrating the end of the program with the rest of the Scholars, and traveling to Corvallis to see the total solar eclipse. To say the least, that was the most eerie, fascinating experience. The remaining weekdays consisted of finishing up small projects, saying goodbye to the magical Bandon office, farewell dinners, learning quintessential dart games from Miles, apricot ale, making too much noise with Chris, Rowland, and Dustin at our farewell breakfast, packing up all of my belongings, turning in my keys, and driving to Portland for my last night in Oregon. That evening, I visited Powell’s bookstore with a friend from school, which takes up an entire city block. Literally a dream. This weekend, I flew to my hometown of Denver for my mom’s wedding. I didn’t take any pictures because I was too preoccupied catching up with family and friends (my mom has 7 siblings, most of which have kids, some of whom also have kids), and butchering a toast in front of all of them because I was too overcome with emotion and gratitude. But here’s a picture of my mom and her best friend that my sister managed to snap. Seeing her celebrate love with our family surrounding her was one of the most beautiful experiences. 

Now that the craziness has died down, I am finally able to sit down and reflect on this past summer in the sunny, plant filled kitchen of my sister’s home. (Yes, the obsession runs in the family). I’ve previously written a bit about how my research this summer led me to learn how to maintain a strong sense of patience and diligence in the face of discomfort. (I’ve also learned that I have an almost uncontrollable sweet tooth when stressed. A very tangible thing that I will take from Oregon is my newfound obsession with Pepperidge Farm’s chocolate hazelnut pirouettes). In addition to learning about my personal research process, studying environmental interpretation, the tourism industry, and natural resource based recreation has shown me the overall potential to strengthen natural resources through sustainable tourism when collaboration between communities and the sharing of knowledge between stakeholders are the top priorities. There is so much potential for community collaboration, economic recovery, and ecosystem restoration/enhancement in the southern region of Oregon, and I hope more people have the chance to experience the wildness that resides there in the secluded coves, uninterrupted sand dunes, geologic sentinels, and centuries-old forests. 

As for the people I had the privilege of interacting with, saying that I am grateful for them is an understatement. There are so many people that have either offered me their knowledge, time, books, stories, and/or connections with other influential people that have also proven to be invaluable.

Surrogate Oregon parents Rowland and Chris with Dustin. We got scolded for laughing too loud.

Having now completed this program, I feel more motivation, bravery, and excitement for the future. Upon my return to California in a couple of weeks, I plan to complete my last round of classes, resume my role at the Estuary Program, graduate (!!), work at the Marine Mammal Center, and bring in the conclusion of the calendar year with getting my PADI Open Water Diver certification. After that – time will only tell. Within a few years from now, I hope to apply to graduate school, my (tentative) top choice being the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management of UC Santa Barbara to double-specialize in coastal marine resources management and water resources management.

In wondering about what I will end up pursuing, I am reminded of a statement I made in the essay I wrote when applying for this program: “As I approach my graduation in December of this year, and as climatic and destructive threats confront coastal communities, I feel a sense of urgency to seize every opportunity available. My lifelong goals are simple: to always learn, and to contribute to the well-being of the planet. Whether I become a scientific explorer for the National Geographic Society, obtain doctorate degrees in various areas of study, or lead a successful public environmental agency, my ambition is to be in a challenging profession that will further the scientific discovery of the world and augment the protection of our planet’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems.” This program has reinforced those goals and has added/strengthened other passions in the mix, such as marine mammal ecology and the indescribably, critical importance of effective science communication. 

Thank you to Sea Grant; Miles, the Scholars, OSU Extension; Haley; Dustin, Dave Lacey, Anthony, and friends of South Coast Tours; Rowland and Chris Willis; Erik Urdahl; Justin Meyers; Tom Calvanese; Joy Primrose; Gary & The Whale’s Tail; Marine Discovery Tours; The Oregon State Marine Board; Capt. John Blanchard; Dean Finnerty, Frank Burris; Mark Lottis; Sarah Kolesar; Mary Pleasant; and MOTHA EARTH. This has been a beautiful experience. 


under: Uncategorized

Clichés from California

Posted by: | August 27, 2017 | 1 Comment |

My lovely move-in crew to my new home in Monterey.

It amazes me the rate at which humans are capable of adapting. In just one week, I have made the trek from a life on one central coast to the next. I write to you now in California from my new balcony in Monterey. I had a wonderful move-in crew (my family) to help me set up in this new home. In the spirit of a new beginning, I have given myself the allowance to be cliché in reflection with my final blog post.

Oh how I’ve missed the California sun.

This summer has been a challenge. Not only have I learned to engage in interdisciplinary research outside of my normal scope, but I have reformed my ideologies as a person. I am increasingly aware of the social clock, watching all of those I grew up with get engaged, married, and have children. It can be easy to look at these developments of those around you and wonder, “Am I on track?”

From my research perch, all of these things are not yet an option. I am merely focused on my tasks at hand. That being said, this summer’s experience has given me one of the greatest insights into my future ambitions. Though not directly related to my research topics, this internship has caused me to parse out what I want in life from a holistic perspective. I love my career in research. And I want to pursue it.

What a successful summer! Jumping for joy in Astoria, Oregon.

As I begin to pour over my new books, research articles, and course requirements, I feel sentiments of gratitude. Thanks to the skills that I have sharpened this summer, I feel no hesitation to learning new material. After all, if a psychology major can understand the inner workings of national economics and marine policy, then what truly may stand in our way?

I am proud of our work as summer interns. Every REU and Sea Grant scholar I met during my time in Oregon shone bright with potential. I have no doubt that I will encounter them all again, working as colleagues towards a common goal in our appointed fields.

Though I walk away with a certain degree of healthy pride in our overall accomplishments, I believe that humility was one of my own greatest lessons. In being surrounded by such an abundance of remarkable people, I hold a newly found reverence for both passion and intelligence. Even amidst a politically uncertain time, I have hope that those who truly support inquisition and learning will be heard. I walk away from this internship more certain of the importance of research as well as the humble mind that must come with an ever-questioning spirit.

Goodbye Oregon- see you again soon.

Thank you, Sea Grant, for pushing our bounds and asking us to grow. I am leaving this internship a better and more hopeful person than I came. For anyone reading this blog with anticipation, waiting to hear back for next year’s recruitment, I have yet another cliché word of advice. Enter this experience with an open mind in all aspects, whether mentally, physically, socially, or spiritually.

With that, I will leave you. Thank you for reading along with me this summer.

Sarah Ann Coffin



under: sea_cof, Uncategorized

Fairwell for now

Posted by: | August 27, 2017 | 1 Comment |

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind- from preparing and then giving my final symposium presentation, to eclipse chasing, to working the Oregon State Fair, it has been a wild ride.

Let’s back up to week 9. Joe and I had finished our native oyster surveys, which sent us all around the bay to over well over 60 sites. I had helped in developing the qualitative methods, which were for determining the abundance of oysters at a site to a “level”, ranging from absent to high abundance. It is meant to take little time and to be repeatable. I wrote up those methods which will later be used to draft a final report, which I’m pretty excited about. I didn’t get too far with data analysis, because I barely had time to enter it all while also making my poster and final talk, but I do know that compared to the previous 2 studies in ’96 and ’06, there are more oysters in Coos Bay. More work will be done checking previously mitigated sites for successful recruitment and on determining range expansion.

Symposium day was in Newport at the Hatfield Marine Science Center on August 18, 2017. We were required to make a 4×3 foot poster of our summer work and prepare a 5-min talk paired with a visual presentation. Many hours of feedback and editing took place that week, but I was very pleased with my first ever academic poster. I also used Prezi for the first time for my talk (for those of you who don’t know, it’s an online resource that is kind of a step up from PowerPoint, with cool graphics and transitions), and though there were some technical difficulties, it looked great and I feel I still gave a well-delivered, informational talk. After the poster session that afternoon Julia and I took to Rogue Brewery for a celebratory drink to end the semi-stressful day.

Me and my lovely poster, titled “The science behind managing Oregon’s shellfisheries”.

In case you live under a rock, the great American eclipse was this past Monday! So, the day following the symposium Julia and I were headed inland. We were not going to risk staying on the coast and missing totality due to the fog, so in our search for a place to get the best viewing we were lucky enough to be invited to stay with a friend of her sister’s in Salem, OR which fell right in the path of totality (and, is loads warmer and sunnier than the south coast weather we’ve grown tired of). On the way to our final destination, we made a stop north of Newport in Depoe Bay, dubbed the Whale Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast by its visitor association. They have a resident pod of grey whales this time of year that are easily visible right off shore. Armed with Julia’s binoculars we spent over an hour making what must have been hundreds of spout, fluke, and back observations (if I had to guess there were at least a dozen animals there at the time). It was spectacular. 10000/10 would recommend. From there we took a nice drive from the coast through forest to the drier, grassier interior of the state. Julia mandated that we make a pit stop at Burgerville, a local chain that is locally sourced, sporting menu items like a marionberry shake. Again, 10000/10 would recommend. We met up with her family and family friends late that evening and spent Sunday afternoon doing a wonderful, waterfall-filled hike at Silver Falls state park. Monday morning it was time for the big event! We got up early to scope out a prime spot on the neighborhood golf course. We were surprised to find that we were one of only about 7 groups who had staked a claim there, after all the media hype about crowds and traffic and such (seriously, they were treating like a natural disaster- “stock up on food, water, gas, ahh!”). Equipped with our eclipse glasses and breakfast, we watched the entire thing from the start of the partial eclipse till the last bit of the sun peaked its way out from behind the moon. With the eyes of an excited child on Christmas morning, we all ooh-ed and ahh-ed as the temperature around us dropped and darkness began to creep in. We experienced about 2 minutes of totality, and it had everyone awe struck (I’m getting goosebumps writing about it). We popped champagne and toasted to the wonder of the universe. The “diamond ring” shone beautifully and an artificial sunset was created on the horizon. I’m so glad we went, and I think the whole event may have created a new wave of eclipse junkies.

My final week at work involved a couple more oyster surveys with Scott, measuring shrimp, and cleaning up data. On Wednesday, the office threw me a last-day-in -Charleston party, with a very pink heavily frosted chocolate cake. It was very sweet (the sentiment and the pastry). Thursday I made my last drive up 101 to Newport, as I’d be spending my last day of the program on Friday working the first shift at the ODFW shellfish display at the Oregon State Far! The 3-hr drive didn’t annoy me as much as the past few trips, being that it was the last time I’d be doing it. I listened to NPR and took in all the beauty and grandeur of the coast, and was very content. Upon arriving in Newport I met up with Liz, Ylva, and Graham and together we packed the trailer with display stuff, gallons upon gallons of frozen sea water, and the animals. We got to the fairgrounds in Salem late in the afternoon and between unloading, set up, and making sure the animals would be fine overnight (aka making sure the pump and chiller systems were operating correctly) it was a long day. We had dinner and finally got back to Liz’s where I was also staying at around 9 pm. It was all worth it though because we did not walk into a disaster Friday morning, the animals were A-OK, and we were able to finish setting up and even take a breather before the fair opened at 10:00. I had a blast working the exhibit; donning my very official beige button up, I talked to many Oregonians young and old for about 4 hours. We had an estimated 600 people (that’s a conservative estimate) during that time. I had some very meaningful interactions, including talking to an older gentleman about invasive green crabs and teaching a brave little girl how to hold and sex a crab- she got so comfortable with it, she began teaching others. I’m very happy to have gotten a taste of outreach experience (shout out to Liz for letting me crash family weekend, as her daughter was turning 3 and her parents were in town).

This weekend, I’m accompanying Julia on her drive home up to Seattle. Yesterday we stopped in Portland to check out Powell’s books and grab some food, and then made our way to Mount St. Helen’s! Such a cool place, full of interesting history and amazing landscapes. Shoutout to Julia for being my travel companion and closest friend throughout my time in Oregon, this summer wouldn’t have been the same without you. And to her family for opening their home to me and letting me pet their dogs.

I am very VERY excited to be home in a few days, but this summer has been a memorable and enriching experience for me and my career. I’ve gained skills and made connections that I know will benefit me greatly in the future, and I’m ready for whatever comes my way.


Over and out,


under: Summer Scholars

Coos Ba(y)ngers

Posted by: | August 26, 2017 | 2 Comments |

I’ve used these blog posts as a medium to talk a lot about what I did this summer, people I met, things I learned, etc., and it’s all important. But one thing that is really, really important to me that I never went into is MUSIC! I discovered and rediscovered a ton of sweet tunes this summer so I’m dedicating this post to my 12 favorite songs from this summer. Why 12? I don’t know but it was too tough to cut the list down to 10. Each of these 12 were at some point either stuck in my head for elongated periods of time, on repeat throughout the summer, perfectly complemented a moment, or all of the above. I think each of them are worth checking out at some point. Enjoy.

  1. My Mind Is Playing Tricks On Me – Geto Boys
    • I really discovered this song this past spring but it’s so damn good that this classic 90s banger was played continuously throughout my summer. While I can’t relate to the Boys and their situations, as a person who frequently gets lost in his thoughts I definitely resonate with the song’s title and dominant hook: my mind is playing tricks on me. The song weaves through four different narratives each told by one of the Geto Boys. Some are comedic, some are real, all are dominated by an insanely strong and personalized flow and a consistently upbeat tempo. Just when you think the song is done Bushwick Bill comes in and keeps you going with his rugged voice for just one more verse. Definitely a classic.
  2. Eat Your Heart Out – Hungry Kids of Hungary
    • I heard this song on my first day in Oregon. Catie and I were riding in Julia’s car on the way back from Newport and my iPod was on shuffle when this song came on. I can’t really explain what makes this song so distinctive and special to me. If it was played at another time on another day I might not have truly appreciated it. But that first guitar riff and its melancholic message perfectly complemented this chill drive with strangers who would very soon become friends.
  3. Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head & Last Living Souls – Gorillaz
    • I put two songs for this one because they both were played in succession during a drive to Siskiyou National Forest. This was my first weekend in the South Coast and my roommate Brendan and I had only known each other for a total of two days but we decided to escape the wind and go camping for a night. While Brendan was driving, playing his chill tunes, “Fire Coming Out of the Monkey’s Head” came on. I can’t remember anymore if I had selected it, if he had, or if it just came on at random, but within seconds I was reminded just how incredible this story of a song was. In a desperate attempt to keep the vibe going, I randomly chose another song off Demon Days that I had never heard before. “Last Living Souls” was slow at first but thirty five seconds in I knew I had made the right choice.
  4. Dope on a Rope – The Growlers
    • Now the Growlers are probably one of my favorite indie rock artists. Frontman Brooks Nielsen’s grainy, unconventional voice gives new meaning to every one of their songs. It’s no different with “Dope on a Rope.” The Growler’s album City Club was one of my favorites for the first half of the summer but this has to be the song that I would play constantly. I played it during Fourth of July when some of the South Coasters came over for burgers and it was the perfect ambience for such a day. Really pay attention to the bass line, like most Growlers songs it doesn’t follow a consistent rhythm. It’ll knock your socks off, trust.
  5. Suburban Beverage – Real Estate
    • I relistened to Real Estate’s self-titled album while roaming around Battle Rock and the beach in Port Orford. I’m a huge lover of Real Estate but their first album never captured me the way their later ones have, so when I was looking for some chill music to accompany this relaxed yet adventurous-feeling jaunt I figured this might be the perfect time to get into it. Real Estate’s emphasis has never been on their lyrics or vocals and this trend is most obvious in their self-titled. This particular song’s only lyric is “Budweiser Sprite, do you feel alright?” and for 3 minutes the band just repeats this ambiguously nonsensical phrase until crescendoing into a 3 minute jam sesh of emotion-driven, lyric-devoid instrumentation that will just make you FEEL.
  6. Sketch – Stereo MC’s
    • This groovy British hip-hop gem played on my way home from work on a Monday. I give attention to the day because Mondays are always those days where the routine seems so set in stone. In an attempt to escape this comfortable prison I put my iPod’s 15,911 songs on shuffle. I was blessed with Sketch, a 6 minute long groove cruise of British-accented flow, and I DUG it.
  7. Secrets – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
    • I love 80s music. I like to think that I’m pretty versed in this unique musical era but OMD is a group that I did not even know existed until this summer. Based on the suggestion of a friend who was seeing them in concert I decided to give them a listen and god damn god damn, “Secrets” is so beautifully 80s electro-pop it makes me want to throw up. With a catchy synth riff, a theme that could have been taken directly out of a teenage girl’s diary, and a continuous, longing outcry from a female singer who most likely is wearing something studded with too many rhinestones, “Secrets” is an anthem and my favorite 80s song of the summer.
  8. California – The Lagoons
    • Now of these 12 songs, this might have been the one that most suited the moment in which it was played. This moment occurred during the Mid-Summer Check-In. I had just gotten my full dose of the North Coaster’s lifestyle with a bonfire on the beach that was part of a goodbye party for a chill dude by the name of Brady. It was a beautifully memorable night shared with beautiful strangers that was concluded with a tight, illegal squeeze in Brady’s truck bed with people who were no longer just strangers. Combine the company, the night lights from the bay bridge, the Oregon beach breeze, and this sexy sax-filled song and you’ve got a liberatingly content moment out of a Stephen Chbosky novel. Shoutout to Sarah for being such a great DJ.
  9.  ALL OF EVERYTHING NOW – Arcade Fire
    • Ok first off f*** the haters, this album is incredible. It’s not the Arcade Fire you’ve grown up with, it’s not the Arcade Fire you love, but it’s the Arcade Fire of today and I am fanboying HARD. I listened to this album three times within 12 hours. The first time I heard it I was at the Punchbowl trying to play putt putt as I danced along to the album. With every song that came on I thought “Wow, that was fantastic, it can’t possibly get better” but I am so happy to say that it did get better, and it got better and it got better and it got better and…(do I need to keep going?). The second time I heard Everything Now was the next morning at 7am when Catie and I drove up to Depoe Bay to go whale watching. I was so filled with joy to discover that my love of the album was still just as strong after a night of sleep. It made me even more happy to see that Catie was digging it just as much as much as I was. The third time I listened to it was that evening while cleaning my room. Nothing special, but still just as dope as the first two times.
  10. Pyramids – Frank Ocean
    • Apparently it’s a sin if you didn’t fall in love with Channel Orange in high school. The first time I ever heard it was my junior year of college and I only really liked three songs off it so I’m basically the devil. But a week ago I needed to organize my negatives and I knew it was going to be a long and lonely process. So, I cracked open a cold one and threw on Frank’s Blonde. A few beers later and I had finished Blonde and started Channel Orange. The combination of repetitious work, booze, and Frank’s stories created a vibe that would get you ready to call up your ex. Pyramids nine minute ballad and its disgustingly encapturing transition really made me understand Frank’s music.
  11.  Uncle John’s Band – The Grateful Dead
    • One of my goals this summer was to get into the Grateful Dead. My roommate Brendan is a Dead Head and he would make it a point to show me their music here and there. It took eight weeks but my eyes were finally opened on his last night in Coos Bae. As I sat in my room, a live version of this song played in the kitchen. I can’t describe exactly what set Uncle John’s Band apart from all the other Dead songs I’d heard before but it felt like I was listening to the Dead for the first time. Since then I’ve listened to their Blues for Allah and the song Shakedown Street (which I am in love with). If things keep up I may be a late bloomer to the Dead Head scene.
  12. Young Folks – City of the Sun
    • I was so fortunate to have Catie as a co-worker. We carpooled for more than half the summer and with every drive we would listen to music. Let me tell you, her music taste is on point. This was the last song she suggested I listen to and it’s been playing at least three times a day for the past three days. Peter Bjorn & John are great and this is a truly creative and commemorative tribute to a classic.

“Cheers to the end of a great summer and a larger music library!” is what I would say if I didn’t have one last blog post to do. I’m an awful Scholar I know. Stay tuned.

under: Uncategorized

So Long, Farewell…

Posted by: | August 25, 2017 | 1 Comment |

I wish my departure could have been as graceful as this but that’s just not my style (;

As many have written the last week was packed full of awesomeness. I had to depart early to begin my graphic design courses (which I already love!) but I was lucky enough to stay for the weekend as well as experience the eclipse.

I must admit that I’m a little disappointed the world didn’t end there wasn’t an insane overflow of crowds. The commotion and chaos is part of the fun, right? Either way the entire event was probably one of the top 3 greatest things I’ll ever have gotten to see in my life. A few friends of mine from Berkeley were able to make the drive up and join us as we made the drive to Corvallis early Monday morning. We made an ever so important stop at Dutch Bros and hustled our way to Bald Hill near the fairgrounds to gather as the sky went dark. As the air began to chill and the sky dimmed I felt so so lucky to have ended up right in the center of totality this summer.

Many of my peers know I didn’t have the easiest summer. I struggled with homesickness a lot and missed California immensely. Hot summer days and warm nights are something I look forward to every year and I felt that lacking with the crispness of the coastal Oregon air. What I will say, though, is that the Oregon coast does hold a very special place in my heart. On my last day I made myself think about all the things I will miss about Newport and the OSG program to remind myself that I was incredibly privileged to have this opportunity.

First off, I will greatly miss the ecosystem that Hatfield is surrounded by. The little bridge along the estuarine walk was one of my favorite places to watch the sunset on a clear night. The grooves underneath the bridge were either filled to the brim with the high tide or scarred the Earth when the tides were low. The salty sour smell that would drift over to the dorms in the morning was incredibly nostalgic for me and always brought back memories of the Elkhorn Slough near my house. Although the weather drove me crazy I knew it contributed to such a unique little world that we lived in for the summer.

Second, I will miss Fred Meyer. I know this sounds ridiculous but I get extreme enjoyment out of grocery shopping. The selection was always impressive and the cashiers were always kind. Safeway will never be the same (and I don’t think there’s such thing as Californian hospitality…)

Third, I will miss that bridge. Its size never failed to surprise me as I crossed it everyday to go to work. It was oddly elegant for being so massive and it added so much charm to Newport. It really was iconic there’s nothing like it out here in the Central Valley.

Fourth, I will miss the palace that is the Muscle Studio. What a great gym. I made so much progress this summer and looked forward to lifting every single day at this place. Full of such cool and interesting people that loved to workout and chat. It was such a unique environment and I WILL return to get my name on their lifter wall once I hit my goals.

Lastly and most importantly I will miss the people and all of our adventures. Meg turned out to be an incredible mentor and someone I would call my friend. The OSG staff was so encouraging and kind every step of the way, I never felt alone because of them. All the REUs became our teammates this summer, especially Angelina who was our house mom. And each Sea Grant Scholar brought something so unique to the group. Jeremy is a fascinating person and I wish we all had more time with him, Julia coordinated an entire trip for us to go to Crater Lake as a fam, Katie was so upbeat and positive, Dustin was 100% my favorite dude to have a conversation with, Catie’s artistic abilities blew me away, Sarah is one of the most brilliant and dedicated people I’ve ever met, Neal is ridiculous and I don’t have any other way to say that, Zach is the other half to Neal so you can figure that one out (add a couple inches and mean volleyball skillz), and Allie’s greatness is only measurable by the amount of post-run and pre-breakfast ice cream feasts I witnessed her have this summer (there were many).

Thank you all so much for a memorable summer and your endless encouragement. I wish you all the best and leave you with this piece of advice: Blue raspberry 5 hour energy and sour patch kids are the secret to long car rides and ultimate life success, don’t forget it.

Oh and here’s my poster lol, CHEERS TO THAT!!!

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @orkingtide (:


under: sea_haye, Summer Scholars

Well, as they say, it’s all over but the crying… I have officially come to the end of my time as an Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar.  Not gonna lie, I’m pretty bummed. It’s been a spectacular summer, and it ended in pretty spectacular fashion. You may or may not be aware that this Monday, our whole sun was totally blocked by the moon. Or, if you are in the “flat earth” camp, some other pseudo-celestial event occurred. Regardless, the result is that for a few minutes in a small band that spanned the USA, it went TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY DARK. And, as luck would have it, that small band included the very part of Oregon in which I’ve been living this summer. Even before the program I was told about the total eclipse hitting Newport. On orientation day, we were given free eclipse glasses by Sea Grant. Throughout the summer I was continuously texted by friends from other parts of the country asking if I knew that this eclipse was going to happen (I did). And for the few weeks leading up to it, we were constantly warned of the dangers of the “apoceclipse” coming to Oregon’s coast. Traffic would be chaos, gas stations would run dry, super markets would be empty, it was even predicted that cell service would fail due to an overload of Snapchatters and hashtaggers. Essentially, rational civilization was predicted to utterly implode as millions of people descended on Oregon’s coast with the sole intention of staring directly at the sun.

That didn’t happen. All in all, it was actually a fairly tame weekend in Newport. The only significant traffic was the backup at the county fair’s mud-runner rally when some guy named Alan got his Jeep stuck on the course (it was hilarious). On a whim, some interns and I decided to trek inland to Corvallis for the eclipse just in case the coast was too foggy. What is normally an hour drive took 50 minutes. No traffic to speak of. On the morning of, we hiked up to the top of Bald Hill a few hours early to get prime seats for the event. As prepared as I thought I was, I still absolutely cannot get over how COOL it was. In the few minutes before totality, the lighting became very eerie and muted. And when darkness hit, everyone around us couldn’t help but shout out in amazement. To be brief, it was so darn cool.

Pro-tip, you can tell this is staged because we’re standing in sunshine and the eclipse blocked out the sun. It’s all in the details.

Afterward though, it was back to reality as it became clear again that the program was ending. After eating lunch, we had to say a goodbye to Dustin and Catie, two of the South Coast Sea Grants who were driving back to Coos Bay. Then, later that evening Megan (another Sea Grant) departed from Newport for good. They were the first official goodbyes and it stunk. They’re three really awesome people who I’m really glad I got the opportunity to get to know some this summer.

I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of my last week in the field. On Monday I went out into the intertidal zone to help plan permanent plots with some ODFW Marine Reserves folks, an Oregon State post-doc, her lab tech, and her 4-month old son! Seriously, Sara (the post-doc) scrambled around the intertidal with her baby strapped to her for about 3 hours and I was thoroughly thoroughly impressed. What an awesome early exposure to field work!! Anyway, the plots we planned will eventually supplement our Sea-Star Wasting data to give a clearer picture of what’s happening in the intertidal of Otter Rock and Cascade Head Marine Reserves. Sadly I won’t be around to perform the surveys myself, but it was great to see how the project and collaboration with OSU is evolving.

The next day I headed out early for my very last day of SMURFing… (insert image of me shedding a single tear here). It was a great day full of lots of oceanic animals, but very few juvenile fish recruits. We saw sea lions, seals, and a FAMILY OF GREY WHALES RIGHT NEXT TO OUR BOAT. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t get a picture of the whales because I was in a wetsuit covered in amphipods at the time but I swear it happened ask anyone else who was out there.

Pretty proud of this picture too. I won’t lie.

Speaking of who else was out there, it’s been an absolute pleasure working with my fellow SMURFers this summer. Madeline (REU) and I got to share a couple long road trips down to Port Orford together and also commiserated in our failure to come even close to Will’s success at catching fish. Will (Ph.D. student at OSU), for his part, has been an awesome guy to work with. He’s a great source of fish knowledge, as well as a great person to grab a burrito with. Doesn’t get much better than that.

What a great gang of SMURFers

In the office, I’ve just been tying up some loose ends. I’ve written my final SMURF blog entry, input some old data, worked on these blog posts, and tried to organize my work from this summer a little bit. Additionally, I got to attend the REU’s summer symposium and learn more about the work they’re doing this summer. There are twelve REU’s at Hatfield studying everything from shrimp to humpback whales. They’re pretty brilliant students and it’s been great living in such a tight-knit community with them. We said goodbye to the first one yesterday and another one this morning along with another Sea Grant, and it was all darn sad. Goodbyes stink. But I’m excited to see where all my fellow Sea Grants and REUs end up, and what awesome things we accomplish.

Talking to a friend from back home the other day, he mentioned that my pictures and posts almost make it seem as if this has been an extended vacation rather than an internship. Honestly, he had a point. I feel as though I’ve really made the most out of my brief time in Oregon. Nearly every weekend has included some sort of adventure that has taken me all across the state and even into California. And not only have I taken advantage of my time not working, the work itself has been pretty awesome as well. I’ve learned a ton, grown a ton, met some awesome people, and gotten to do some pretty cool fieldwork. In addition, I’ve built some friendships that will definitely extend beyond this program while living in a great community of students (that includes you, South Coast Sea Grants, even though we didn’t live together).

To bring this full circle back to my first blog post, the final scene of Season 8 of Scrubs (which was meant to be the series finale before they regrettably made a mediocre 9th season) shows JD walking down a hospital hallway as he leaves Sacred Heart Hospital for the final time. In his imagination, the halls are lined with the people he’s met – friends, co-workers, patients, love interests, The Janitor, etc. He walks outside to watch a projector screen flashing images of his future while Peter Gabriel’s The Book of Love plays in the background. It gets me every time, seriously.

Basically me right now.

I don’t imagine my exit will be anything like that. Except, I will be sad to say goodbye to this experience, and I am excited to see where it’ll take me. So long Sea Grant, and thanks for all the fish.

I’m out *mic drop* *big splash* *shriek as freezing water permeates wetsuit*

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These last couple weeks of my internship have been a lot of tying up loose ends. Last week, I was busy getting prepared for the final presentation and poster for the symposium in Newport. It took a lot of work, but it was fun to bring together everything that I’ve been working on this summer and show what we’ve been doing at the South Slough. I’ve also been trying to go explore places in Coos Bay one more time before I leave. Earlier last week, I drove down the Cape Arago peninsula again, and this time I finally saw seals at Simpson Reef! The day was really clear, so there was no fog obstructing the view of the rocks, and it was at low tide, so the maximum amount of rock was exposed for seals to haul out on.

This picture basically just looks like big rocks, but they’re covered in seals:


I also went to the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge and spent some time birdwatching. At the shore at Coquille Point, there were tons of gulls and cormorants on the large rock outcrops and feeding along the intertidal. Along the emergent saltmarsh at the Ni-les’tun Unit, I saw swallows and sparrows, a great egret, a turkey vulture, and a peregrine falcon.

The big rock outcrops at Coquille Point in the Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge:


However, the past few weeks haven’t been all lasts, but also some new things.

  • I finally saw whales in Oregon! Katie and I were heading up north from Newport after the symposium and stopped in Depoe Bay. Depoe Bay claims to have the world’s smallest harbor—and it is a perfect spot for whale watching. Over the course of a couple hours that we sat overlooking the bay, we saw hundreds of grey whale spouts, tons of whale backs, and a couple shots of flukes. I was so happy that I got to see whales before I left Oregon!!
  • The best new thing—the eclipse. We were really lucky that the eclipse was happening this Monday, August 21st, only a couple days after our symposium in Newport. The path of totality passed right through Newport inland across Oregon. Coos Bay would see about 97% totality, but Katie and I decided to stay with my mom and sister at a friend’s house in Salem so that we could see the total eclipse.

We were really surprised there was basically no traffic getting to Newport or from Newport to Salem, because we had heard dire warnings about the millions of people coming to Oregon for the eclipse. On Sunday, we went to Silver Fall State Park, hiking an 8-mile loop that brings you past about 7 waterfalls. It was an awesome way to kill time before the eclipse.

Monday, Katie and I woke up early to claim a spot at a local golf course to view the eclipse. We definitely could have slept in a bit later, as only a couple dozen people ended up watching from the course. My family and friends came a bit later with food. It was amazing to just sit for the next couple hours, watching the moon slowly cover the sun. I had heard what eclipses would be like, but no description really prepared me for experiencing it. As totality neared, it got eerily dim and felt like I was looking at everything through a filter. Then the moon fully covered the sun, and it was instantly really dark. Streetlights came on, the horizon looked like sunset, and you could see the corona around the moon. The two minutes of totality felt like seconds. Before we knew it, the sun peeked out behind the moon, and we had to put our eclipse glasses back on.

My attempt to take a picture of the eclipse with my phone:


This whole summer—the fieldwork, research, hiking, camping—has been incredible, but I feel lucky that I got to end the summer with a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I may not have been able to see if I’d been somewhere else.

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This summer I wanted to use the time away from home to set challenges for myself and see how many I could complete. Setting goals always seemed like a great way to work on self-improvement. So right from the start I set three goals for myself:

  1. I wanted to run at least 3 times a week and get to the point where I enjoyed running.
  2. I wanted to read for pleasure more.
  3. I wanted to avoid the late night work sesh’s that stem from an unhealthy amount of procrastinating that has haunted me my entire college career.

So before we dive into this week’s work update, I’ll update everyone on my personal summer goals.

  1. In the first week and a half I ran 4 times! That was more miles run in those 10 days than in the last 5 years, I was quite proud of myself. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you really hate running), that feeling of pride was not strong enough to stop me from giving up running completely when a group of interns roped me in to joining the local pool with them. The only sport I’ve ever done has been swimming and I’m quite awkward on land. After 11 years of competitive swimming, I’d like to think land sports just aren’t my thing. So I happily made a quick goal switcharoo to swimming at least 4 times a week instead of running. With a good group of supportive swimmers we’ve been able to motivate each other to hit that goal just about every week. All I can hope is that by the end I can still beat the 14 year old swimmers that I coach back home. Goal #1 = Kind of complete?
  2. Well… I’ve read a bunch of research articles, papers and two textbooks. Learning is pleasure, right? Goal #2 = to be determined.
  3. The past two weeks have been a grind to research and finish my final presentation and poster. While I didn’t procrastinate necessarily, I did burn the midnight oil. It’s just something about the quiet peacefulness of 4 am in the Hatfield library that really just lets the thoughts flow out clearly. Working in the ODFW cubicle staring into the corner of a wall is honestly driving me insane. It’s a quite a bummer I can’t do the out of project work out of the office. Oh well, the late nights will have to continue for now. A successful presentation and poster later and Goal #3 = half way finished, I think?


This leads into the next section of the blog… Presentation and posters! Presenting on our work over the summer felt like it snuck up on us. In reality this whole summer seemed to just slip away. I knew from experience that this 10 week program was going to go quick. But knowing and experiencing are always two different things. Walking home the other day felt like it was the first week and we had just signed our ODFW paperwork.

In case you weren’t at the Sea Grant final presentations, I presented on the importance of community engagement for research scientists. I modeled the presentation mostly on background research rather than on the Oregon Marine Reserves, as they are currently transitioning towards an engagement model rather than a pure outreach model.

With just a few days until I present, I was very much looking forward to getting feedback from my mentor. In true fashion she gave me some feedback in ways that seemed as blunt as possible. Which, after getting over myself I realized how important it was. The advice that stuck out the most was that I needed to explain the topics as if I was “explaining it to my friend at the bar.” She wanted me to pretend there was a barrier of noise between myself (the message sender) and my mate (message receiver). In order to get my message across effectively I had to be clear and say it as quickly as possible to avoid getting, literally in this case, drowned out by the noise. In reality noise could refer to literal noise, visual distractions, extra words, other conversations, etc. This noise distracts and takes away from the message you are trying to convey. I had always recognized noise, but always in terms of designing a campaign message. For some reason it never occurred to me that the same idea could be applied while giving a presentation. Kelsey also encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and use PowerPoint to aid the presentation, instead of being the presentation. I took out as many words as I could and replaced them with easy to understand graphics and pictures.

This forced myself to be able to confidently explain the topic without the use of notes or cue words. Practicing this resulted in a few 3 am nights in the library practicing to my audience of wheelie chairs. But once I got it down, it felt sooo goooood. It was so much harder, but I felt my presentation skills improve loads. S/o to my mentor Kelsey for the top pro tips.


Of course we can’t forget to talk about the one event that was so incredible that it just eclipsed the whole week. An event that felt spiritual, as if you could feel it throughout your entire body. An event that mentally and physically puts you in a state of awe. An event that, should you be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time for, you would be a fool to miss out on. An event that I know that I will spin never ending yarns to my grand children about. An event that I hope goes down in history as a moment where we put away the sadness and strife of the current state of the environment and politics and replaced it with joy and wonder. Obviously we’re talking about the pre-final Sea Grant presentation cinnamon bun trip! 5 Sea Grants interns, 5 cinnamon buns and 5 full happy stomachs, what more could you ask for?! Granted they weren’t the best cinnamon buns of all time, but boy were they still so good. Really overshadowed just about every other event that occurred recently.

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When I left you last week, I was still a little behind, having just finished describing my sister’s wedding. Now, I find myself woefully behind once more. Maggie’s wedding is old news, so now we can go back to what’s really important, me (kidding, Maggie, I’m kidding).

After my whirlwind weekend trip back home, I returned to a whirlwind week of work. On Tuesday (two weeks ago today) I returned to the field for some more intertidal surveying. A brief recap of why we survey in the intertidal zone is probably warranted here. We are collaborating with Oregon State University and PISCO to survey sea-star wasting disease (SSWD) in Oregon’s Marine Reserves. SSWD is a gruesome infection which can cause sea-stars to lose limbs and disintegrate into the rock. It recently re-emerged on the west coast and our surveys help to determine the severity of the outbreak (mostly in the species Pisaster ochraceus, thus the title). So, last week I led a group of volunteers out into the field. Though the disease is a serious one, the survey process itself is a blast. Basically, you wake up before sunrise, throw on some ill-fitting boots and uncomfortable waterproof pants, and try not to slip and fall on rocks and kelp for 3 or 4 hours. Awesome, right! It really is. I love being out in the field and getting my hands dirty trying to find tiny sea stars.

Gotta have a good eye to find these guys.

Fortunately, my volunteers did as well. My volunteer pool is basically the other summer interns living at Hatfield Marine Science Center. All of them are passionate scientists and most are accustomed to fieldwork, which makes them stellar sea-star surveyors. I’m really grateful for all of their help and how excited they are to lend a hand. Additionally, after the survey we all went for some of those legendary cinnamon rolls I raved about in my previous blog post. Great day.

I spent most of the rest of the week toiling on my final presentation. This involved a lot of work in excel cleaning up datasets, punching in numbers, running stats, and making graphs that looked pretty. Sounds a little tedious, but all in all not a bad gig. Remember, I’m a nerd, so data analysis is actually pretty cool to me. In addition, I authored another installment of my SMURF blog and power-washed some SMURFs. This was all done in anticipation of the weekend though.

Last weekend (weekend of the 12th) was the Seaside Volleyball Tournament, aka my opportunity to make all that time spent playing beach volleyball this summer finally count. Turns out I love volleyball. I’ve never played it competitively before this summer unless you count 5th grade gym class when I broke Nick Hipple’s glasses (sorry Nick), but this summer it’s been my main afterwork pastime. Early in the summer, three of my coworkers and I signed up to play in the Seaside Tournament, the largest amateur tournament in the world. My three teammates have all played competitively before and are super talented bumpers, setters, and spikers. Me? I’m tall. That was pretty much the only qualification that got me on the team. But I’ve played a lot this summer and I’d like to think I’ve improved. At least, Megan make fun of me less now than she did before.

Anyways back to the tournament. Our team was named “Pretty Good” in honor of our talent level, but we played like champions.

Still working on getting the Pretty Good high-five down

We utterly smashed “BBJ” and “stone cold chillerz” in our first two games of pool play (coincidentally, “stone cold chillerz” is my least favorite team name ever). In our third game of pool play we played the best game of our lives but lost a barn-burner to “Topher Rocks” (Topher did, in fact, rock). Finally, we bowed out in the knockout round against one of last year’s champions and his new team, the AJs. Major props go to Sawyer for being 6’6” and raining death and destruction down on our opponents from above. Megan’s sets were so perfect that even I couldn’t mess some of them up. Gabby worked harder than all the rest of us combined, and was covered in sand constantly as a result. For my part, I didn’t screw up too much. The real MVP though was our cheering section. Almost the entire intern population of Hatfield trekked up to Seaside with us and screamed their heads off in support. Legendary. Always nice to take a break from all the science to enjoy some sports.

The Real MVPs.

BUT. Anyhow, back to the science. I’ve now made it up to the beginning of last week! This week was supposed to be entirely consumed by working on my final poster/presentation, but somehow other stuff kept coming up. First of all, though, last Monday we had an ODFW Marine Reserves cookout after work partially in honor of Neal, Sarah, and I coming to the end of our program. It was a great reminder of how awesome the people I’ve worked with this summer are. The Marine Reserves team is full of brilliant scientists who are also genuinely cool people. There are plenty of graduate degrees spread amongst them, as well as plenty of experiences living in countries all over the world. Conversation topics range from “how to succeed in science” to “how awesome was Game of Thrones last night??” It’s a great group of people to work with and learn from.

Back at work, I worked on my poster and presentation, but also spent an entire day road-tripping down to Port Orford to collect SMURF samples. Not a lot of work got done on my personal agenda that day, but I’m a big fan of throwing on some podcasts and driving so I consider it a success. My project did come together eventually though! With the help of my aforementioned co-workers, I put together what I believe was a solid presentation for our final symposium last Friday, as well as a nice poster. The symposium was a cool event in that it gave us an opportunity to share what we’ve worked so hard on all summer, and also learn from the other Sea Grant Scholars at the same time. My fellow Sea Grants are a pretty impressive group of people – incredibly smart and incredibly dedicated to their fields, which extend beyond just marine ecology. Definitely an awesome group that I’m proud to be a part of.

Dang I’m gonna miss Oregon’s coast.

under: sea_cle

The Howl of the Moon

Posted by: | August 22, 2017 | 1 Comment |

We live in perpetual motion around a star. As a metaphor, deity and mystery, our star’s various memetic incarnations derive from its constancy of power and presence, yet we still know precious little about it. The long life span of trees relative to that of humans makes studying them difficult. Similarly, understanding the life of a star is an infinitely more daunting endeavor and in many ways an eternal puzzle, one that we can only observe indirectly, mediated through technology, projecting ourselves into the future and past, and only in the briefest of blinks. We know that our star is not magical, that it obeys known laws of physics and nuclear chemistry, that it is incredibly far from us, yet we can feel it on our skin, and as we consume the products of its excitations and marvel at the games it plays, we continue to spin around and around its eternal light. A place of constant origin, only one of an infinity of others that speak to us from the night sky. A contradictory and alien being, our sun.

On Monday I watched our moon eclipse this star from a field in Corvallis, hundreds of people laying or sitting in the grass with lawn chairs and blankets, drinking morning cocktails, chasing rambunctious dogs and kids, telescopes and cameras trained to the sky. As the light dimmed and the world changed color, the shadows through an old redwood sprayed a hundred crescent suns across the ground, all of us wondering at the fascinating pattern of light and shadow in the dirt. At the moment of totality, cheers and gasps filled the air, life holding its breathe on the cool wind, wonder and fear echoing back through thousands of such events throughout human history.

Intellectually I was aware of the process as a consequence of orbits, relative distances and coincidental alignment, but the animal within howled. I stood there in the stop-time of fear and curiosity so common to the human animal, wondering at what I was seeing, not with my eyes but with my being. A part of me knew that I was looking at the corona of the sun, but such explanations have no bearing on the emotional component of such an event. In that moment I felt an awesome and terrible presence. I can now understand why such events have inspired panic and sacrifice. I have only once before felt something similar about the sun, my first morning in the sands of Kuwait, the sun rising as a pale blue disc on the horizon, its visible rays feeble and weak, yet its power all around me in the 120 degree air. The sun as an embrace, a holy gesture of an ambivalent god, a passing terror, a perpetually unknowable entity driving art, religion, science and life together under its rays.

I am becoming a scientist. I am the recipient of a vast canon of knowledge about the world we live in, a gift from our ancestors. I have been given many tools to inquire about the workings of nature, to ensure that I am not seeing only what I want to see, or the spirits of habit and superstition. I have a community of passionate and experienced scientists from around the globe that I can call on for help and guidance, yet this is a relatively recent state of affairs. Staring at the sun and moon in alignment I found myself remembering all of those who came before and confronted such phenomena without science. They possessed the same mind and intellectual powers as I, an inheritance of knowledge and experience to keep them alive, and a cultural narrative to order the why’s and how’s of the world, but no science. Those people put stones in circles, piled them high toward the stars and consecrated them with human blood in the effort to understand and control the powers of life and death. I remember and honor those ancestor’s efforts, the generations of sacrifice and confusion that led to here and now, to me. Confronted by the mystery and terror of an eclipse, I must have felt much as they did, quaking at the sight of the sun blotted out by the moon, an event that shouldn’t be.

I have struggled both intellectually and emotionally this summer in pursuit of science. Standing before a wonder of life on planet earth, I was reminded that a part of my being remains untouched and untouchable by science and intellect, that at some level I am unable to completely integrate what I know from science with what I feel with my being. Like the sun, I am a mysterious power of contradiction that defies explanation, even as I seek to explain this condition and the world around me. Much remains hidden in the light.

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