A week in the life of a government biologist

Last week for me can be described in two words: field work. I was able to get outside and work on a different project each day. I started off my week by assisting South Slough lab technicians in the retrieval of SONDES water quality sensors located along tide gates in the upper Coos estuary. In the following days, I tagged along with Fisheries Biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW). My first day with ODFW consisted of fish seining at five sites throughout the estuary. The main goal of this work was to monitor the size and abundance of chinook salmon smolt. The next day I traveled with ODFW Biologists South to The Devil’s Backbone for littleneck clam population assessments. Working alongside these biologist taught me a great deal about the coastal species found on Oregon’s coast and the methods used to manage their populations. I concluded my week by analyzing settlement plates as part of an Olympia Oyster monitoring project and scouting out potential sample sites for my personal research project that I will begin this week.


I have decided to complete my own research project this summer on the European Green grab’s presence in the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. Green crabs have invaded the waters of the United States’ Atlantic and Pacific coasts. For years green crabs on California’s coast were unable to establish populations in Oregon and Washington due to colder waters. The invasive crab was first discovered in the Pacific Northwest in 1998 after an El Nino event which temporarily warmed waters long enough to allow the species to move North. The magnitude of the 2015/2016 El Nino is the largest since 1998 and incidental landings of green crabs in the Coos estuary have increased. I plan to compare my results to data collected from a previous green crab population assessment in South Slough conducted after the 1998 El Nino. The results of my study have potential importance in the management of dungeness crab fisheries as european green crabs have been shown to outcompete the less aggressive, commercially important native species.


I leave you with a picture of a garter snake I found just outside of my yurt a few mornings back. Follow my instagram account @CollinHoldingCreatures for more pictures of animals I encounter throughout my field work.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 thoughts on “A week in the life of a government biologist

  1. Can’t wait for future installments of @CollinHoldingCreatures to feature green crabs, Dungeness, salmon smolt, oysters…You’ve mentioned an interest in invasive species – what in particular motivated you to pursue an invasive crab as your study focus this summer?

  2. Sounds like you are certainly getting plenty of that field work that you wanted! I did find you on Instagram so looking forward to seeing more pictures of your holding creatures. I’ve been hearing lots about that invasive green crab lately so I’m excited to see what you find out! Great job taking advantage of every opportunity and conducting an independent project while you’re here!

  3. Sarah, I decided to study green crabs for my project, because the species is expected to increase its range and population size in the coming years. No one had conducted a green crab assessment in the South Slough Reserve, so my study will serve as baseline data for future researchers in the reserve as populations increase. This data might also be useful in determining when green crabs have established breeding populations in an area. This information would be especially useful to coastal managers working in areas that are recently invaded.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.