On this most summer of holidays, while her home state experiences powerful summer storms and heat waves, intern Diana adjusts to her summer home and job:
As a native Marylander, I have been thrown into an environment of cold northwest water and weather. I was definitely not used to wearing pants in the summer or having my hooded sweatshirt as a necessity to my wardrobe.
The first challenge I faced was understanding how the west coast worked in terms of upwelling and the cold temperature of the water here. Once I understood this, I could then understand why the biodiversity that lives and flourishes here can actually do so. I am still learning, and I probably always will be for at least this summer if not more, because the Oregon coast is a complex world.
The next step to fitting in here at Hatfield for the summer was to learn about the Visitor’s Center itself. I had to learn about the animals that live here, the activities and free choice learning aspects that are displayed as well as what my project for the summer here would be. That is a frustrating task in itself. I do know a good bit about marine biology and ecology, but this place was intense. This is mainly because I have only seen a few science centers and aquariums that use the water around them as their water for the marine animals. Hatfield completely relies on the bay its saltwater wedge. If something happens to the water in the bay, then all heck breaks loose in the science center because that’s the water we use. I know it’s filtered a million times in many different ways, but sometimes things still make it through and that’s what effects the marine environment such as bacteria, invertebrates, etc.
Then, there are the surprises I have gotten while working at this job for almost 2 weeks…the Visitors. No matter how many changes in the center, from the animals to the water quality to the behavior, the visitors still surprise me the most. Each family and person is different, from the moment they walk in the door and are asked for a donation rather than an entrance fee. Some give a little, some give and wish they could give more. There are people who are from out of town who just want to see the octopus and people from landlocked states and have never seen an estuary before. You also get visitors who know nothing about the Oregon coast or marine ecology. Then, before you know it there’s a kid who comes in and knows more about sea stars than you would ever know, no matter how much you studied. Each visitor has their own story, and that is what makes my job so exciting because not only is science ever changing, but so are the people that want to learn.