I scored for my first blog post…lab trips make for an easy topic.

This past weekend ORCAA (with some of our OSU marine mammal graduate student colleagues) piled into my Explorer and journeyed north to Bellingham, WA for the 18th Annual Meeting of the Northwest Student Chapter for the Society for Marine Mammalogy (mouthful!) The drive was long, and it rained the whole time, but the setting was wonderful and plenty of scientific fun was had!

ORCAA crew trying to look less serious?
ORCAA crew trying to look less more serious?

This year’s conference was hosted by the lovely folks of Western Washington University, and included students from University of British Columbia and University of Washington. We did a great job of reppin’ the orange and black, especially considering we traveled the farthest. The ORCAA ladies all gave oral presentations: Niki on sperm whales in the Gulf of Alaska, Michelle on humpback whale communication in Southeast Alaska, and myself on tagging some elephant seals. Shea Steingass of PEARL talked about hypoxia and harbor seals and Courtney Hann of the CEOAS department and Alaska Whale Foundation presented a poster of her citizen science mobile app to get the public involved in doing marine mammal science.

OSU student presenters (L to R): Courtney, Shea, me, Niki, and Michelle
OSU student presenters (L to R): Courtney, Shea, me, Niki, and Michelle

This meeting is an awesome, low-key conference for graduate and undergraduate students from universities all over the Pacific Northwest to present their research, meet and network with new friends, and catch up with familiar faces. It is especially great because  the group is almost entirely made up of students which equals a less scary, less stressful environment to practice sharing your science. I was much less nervous than I was last year; I’m happy to report that talking in front of large groups DOES  get easier with practice. I couldn’t have been more proud of our lab and fellow OSUers. Everyone did a phenomenal job!!

ShannonPoint
The impressive Shannon Point Marine Center…Anacortes, WA

Saturday’s presentations were followed by a wildlife viewing excursion on Sunday. We got to visit WWU’s beautiful Shannon Point Marine Center and took a boat tour of the gorgeous San Juan Islands on the comfy and cozy RV Zoea. Highlights included lots of harbor seals and several seabirds I wish I could identify. No killer whales but I blame Shea, she says she’s bad luck…Anyway, it was a great way to get outside and wrap up the weekend.

Wildlife viewing in the San Juan Islands!
Wildlife viewing in the San Juan Islands!

Many thanks to WWU for hosting (amazing organization by Kat and Erin) and we are pleased to announce that OSU will be hosting here in Newport in 2015. The wheels are already turning on how we can make next year even better.

Phew…that wraps up my very first blog ever; a little insight into the day-to-day lives of ORCAA students. I welcome any suggestions in the comments, I’ll be here every second Friday 🙂

Island for sale..I'm thinking about buying it.
Island for sale..I’m thinking about buying it.
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