Week 5: A seal of approval

It is pupping season for the harbor seals and this week started off with a baby harbor seal sighting. Just as I made it over the dunes separating the forest from the beach, I saw the little guy flopped out on the sand. During their first three to four weeks of life baby seals need to spend time resting. Their mothers often leave them alone for hours at a time on the beach. People naturally are concerned when they find them alone and report the seals as abandoned or worse try to move them. Sure enough, I spotted a group of people not too far away peering over at him.

What a cutie :)

What a cutie :)

Putting on my concerned citizen scientist hat, I approached the group of tourists, mentally going over the marine mammal protection talking points. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I approached the group to have my talking points fed back right to me. They were not plotting out their seal selfie strategy as I had assumed but were keeping a appropriate distance and informing others to do the same.

I’ve always believed that the public wants to do the right thing when it comes to the environment, a view that is often challenged by reports of climate change deniers and the carelessly tossed trash I always find on the beach. However, moments like this one where it is clear that the message has reached the public renew my confidence. As a scientists it is so important to remember that education must be a key part of conservation if we are to protect the environments we study.

This week marks the halfway point for the summer. Friday, all of the scholars got together to present the research we have worked on the past five weeks. We attended a few seminars on science communication and then headed out for a camping trip in the beautiful Willamette National forest. The change of scenery was spectacular. It was great to trade the bunk room by the beach for a tent in the forest.

A spectacular view from the Oregon section of the PCT

A spectacular view from the Oregon section of the PCT

Hiking was my favorite part of the weekend. We explored the Willamette forest full of creeks and lakes and the headed towards Bend, Oregon and the alpine landscape surrounding Mt. Bachelor.

As far as CBRAT goes, the initial part of my crab research is nearly complete. I have compiled all of the most important research papers. Now, I am editing my spreadsheet that I will review with my mentors at our meeting next week and begin looking at which pH values indicate high, moderate or low risk for decapods. 

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2 thoughts on “Week 5: A seal of approval

  1. looks like your really busy and having a great hands on learning experience while enjoying the great outdoors, maybe leania and I will go back to college, take care, enjoy the rest of your stay in Newport, mike

  2. Wow congratulations on seeing a baby seal! Also I’m impressed with your confidence and science communication skills that you were willing to approach the public and inform them on what to do when they see a “stranded” pup. Super cool to hear that that particular group already knew what to do and was spreading the word to others!

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