Week 2: Good, Good, Good, ~Expectations~

Beach boys and girls

Week 2: Good, Good, Good, ~Expectations~
…As the Beach Boys classic goes (or something like that).

This past week was my first full week on the job; I already feel like I’m getting the hang of our early morning routine on field days, and that I’m a contributing member of the team. I’ve dug up my fair share of clams, even correctly identifying (some of) them. I got to use the handheld GPS to navigate us from waypoint to waypoint, which requires a very good handle on cardinal direction, and which I have yet to master. This week was also fun because our team consisted of three women (a fact that did not go unnoticed by a fisherman on the dock, who laughed at what he affectionately called our “sexy Gumby suits”). We ladies worked two 11-hour days in a row, allowing us to finish early on Wednesday. We celebrated later that night by going out for dinner and drinks at the local 7 Devils Brewery, where my co-worker graciously picked up my tab. I sipped on a delicious in-house hard cider and enjoyed the company of my ODFW team, live music, and the collection of canines brought along by our fellow patrons (a dog-friendly brewery, does it get any better?!).

Expectations Meeting-

As this post’s title would suggest, this week we held our Expectations meeting between my mentors, myself, and the program coordinators at Oregon Sea Grant. I really appreciated the program’s effort to work together with the scholars and our mentors to establish a game plan for the next 8 weeks, making sure our work is oriented towards reaching our goals. I have been enjoying my time in the field and lab, but a main part of what I wanted to get out of working for ODFW this summer was learning how a state agency operates, at all levels. I wanted to take part in public outreach and learn about the regulation/monitoring/policy aspects in addition to the science we’d be conducting. I brought this up during our conference call and I really felt my voice was heard. In the days following both Tony and Scott Groth, shellfish biologist and project leader for the Oregon pink shrimp fishery (and my co-mentor), presented me with opportunities to take part in outreach, including manning the ODFW touch tank at the state fair and conducting creel surveys of clammers off several docks in the region. This was in addition to the helpful document they had previously made listing my responsibilities and activities for the remainder of the summer. Their flexibility and willingness to prioritize my learning objectives is a clear reflection of why they were chosen as Summer Scholar mentors.

Could Use a Hand (or 2)-

I don’t know if I’d call myself accident prone, per say, but I think it can be fully established that I do not have the best luck. My track record this year includes my identity getting stolen, my new laptop’s battery dying- and learning that the manufacturer had recently stopped producing said batteries, unknowingly driving around with a gas leak for a couple months, and more than a handful of visits to urgent care. And that is where I found myself once again on Thursday evening, complaining of an irritating rash on the back of my hands that had popped up earlier in the week but was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. After consulting with my supervisors, we thought it best to go get it checked out. And, because of all the work I’d been doing in the water/mud and with animals, they informed me that this was likely a worker’s compensation issue and that it would be best to file a claim. So started my first (and hopefully last) encounter with worker’s comp paperwork, which seems to be quite the process. The urgent care facility was very nice, and newly renovated. I was seen by an older gentleman, and after a brief look at my hands we began a long brainstorming session to find out what could possibly be causing the bizarre red, bumpy rash isolated entirely to the back of my hands. My answers to his questions did not reveal a definite cause, nor did his answers to mine. His final advice was to act as a “Sherlock detective” and keep an eye out for things that could only be coming into contact with that part of my hands. He prescribed me a mild steroid cream to be applied twice a day and sent me on my way. It is now Sunday and they don’t seem to be improving much. :/

Mystery Rash

Bandon Pacific Seafood-

One cool thing I got to do this week was tour the unloading area of the Bandon Pacific Seafood wholesale plant, across the street from the Charleston ODFW office. These seamen hard at work pulling fish from their piles and operating heavy machinery were a greasy lot, but many of them greeted us or at least did not seem disturbed by our presence. We met up with Dean, a 20-yr employee of the Charleston ODFW office, who was dressed in foul-weather gear, wielding a large knife and standing over an icy bin of black cod (which is actually not a cod, but a sablefish). He was making precise cuts into both the belly and head of the fish, to identify the sex and remove the otoliths, respectively. Otoliths, literally meaning “earstones”, are the ear bones of a fish and are used to age the fish and determine growth rate. He was also taking length and weight measurements of the fish. He is clearly an expert at what he does, and was eager to explain each step to me. He even cut a weird sac-like parasite out a fish and popped it so I could see the black, congealed blood inside. It was gnarly (a seagull was later seen eating it- again, gnarly). The smell of rotting fish and being surrounded by death did not make the dock my favorite place, but I did learn a lot. One of the things I was most happy to hear was that they do their best to find an economic use each part of the fish/shellfish they catch. For example, shrimp are boiled and peeled before being packaged. The peeled exoskeletons are then saved and sold as fertilizer!

Otolith King

This week had its up and downs but I am very much loving Oregon and looking forward to the weeks to come. Hope everyone has an enjoyable, safe Fourth of July!


Katie Gregory

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About Katie Gregory

Originally from Rochester, NY, I finished my B.S. in Marine Science from Stony Brook University in Spring 2017 before heading out to Oregon for the Sea Grant Summer Scholars Program. I am working with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Shellfish and Estuarine Habitat Assessment of Coastal Oregon (SEACOR) project under mentor Tony D'Andrea, but assisting in several other things with ODFW along the way. I am based in Charleston, Oregon living at Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) and am hoping to explore the OR coast as much as possible in my free time!

3 thoughts on “Week 2: Good, Good, Good, ~Expectations~

  1. Glad that your desire for science outreach was well-received. Sounds like some conversations with local watermen and processors could be an educational opportunity. Hope your hands feel better soon.

  2. Wow, what a week! It is great to hear the feedback about the expectations meetings. Onward science communication, learning from fishermen, fieldwork, and hand recovery!

  3. It’s great to hear that you are feeling like part of the team and really getting the hang of the equipment and methods. It’s also outstanding to hear how Tony and Scott are offering you opportunities to pursue your goals in science communication, they truly are wonderful mentors interested in your learning. I hope your hands heal quickly and don’t impact your field work abilities!

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