As I drove down a winding road in the mountains of western Oregon, I saw it for the first time: the Pacific Ocean. From afar, it looked much like the Atlantic, but the closer I got, the more I could see the new adventures each wave was carrying ashore for me. This summer marks my first time on the west coast, and I know for sure it won’t be my last. I grew up around Boston and have always been attracted to the ocean, but the older I’ve become, the more I’ve been drawn to the natural beauty and marine life of the Pacific Northwest. I aspire, upon completing my undergraduate degree, to bring my knowledge and passion of marine conservation to this region and make it my new home.
I’ve only been in Newport for a few days, but I’ve already had the opportunity to go to the beach, watch several beautiful sunsets, bike along the coast, and camp in a state park. I arrived a week later than the rest of the scholars due to the finishing of my SEA Semester, a program in which I spent 35 days sailing a tall ship 2,500 nautical miles through the Sargasso Sea and North Atlantic and studying Sargassum phylogenetic diversity and distribution. That means I’m not only adjusting to a new home and a new coast, but I’m also re-adjusting to life on land. While I may have the opportunity this summer to work at sea, the majority of my internship will take place on shore with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). For this job, I will be working with the ODFW fisheries research team to study the efficiency of remote underwater vehicles, also known as stereo-video landers, in developing fisheries-independent surveys of demersal fish populations in Oregon. I will be conducting video reviews of previously recorded stereo-video lander footage to study whether species composition and abundance varies between day and night. Understanding this parameter will help develop more accurate fisheries-independent data for stock assessments.
Throughout my undergraduate career in marine science, I’ve have grown increasingly more interested in fisheries conservation and management. Last summer I interned at the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center, and throughout the past year in the classroom I have learned a lot about fisheries management and economics. I’m excited this summer to experience a different type of workplace, as much of my previous work has been field-based, and to work hands-on in fisheries management. Tomorrow marks my first day in the office. Just as the Pacific Ocean became more scintillating the closer I got, this opportunity with ODFW gets more exciting as the minutes go by. I cannot wait to learn more about the project I get to assist, the marine life that thrives off the Oregon coast, and the ways fisheries science plays a role in marine conservation.