Visiting from Virginia and never having been to the West Coast before, everything is new to me. This first week has been full of excitement, from seeing the different vegetation and wildlife, to realizing different cultural norms. Just yesterday while working, I saw a Bald Eagle fly, watched curious Harbor Seals watch me, then later saw a Porcupine scuttle past me as I admired a Pacific Coast sunset. I’ve never seen any of this wildlife in the wild before, it’s wild. I’ve enjoyed hearing the haunting sounds of Cormorants and learning the birds that float nearby on the water are named the Pigeon Guillemot, it’s so fun to say!
My Sea Grant Summer Scholar position is to work with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on the Shellfish and Estuarine Assessment of Coastal Oregon (SEACOR) team. This means almost everyday I am on the water in Coos Bay taking samples of various clams, crabs, and shrimp. Once all the data is compiled the population levels and health of the species will be assessed so inform decision making on resource management. I wear a bulky dry suit that makes me feel like an astronaut, and when filled with air makes for a wonderful and fun floatation device to swim above Eelgrass when it’s too hard to walk through. I’ve learned a lot about the different local shellfish, and other slippery worms and sea slugs we find. Some of my work days begin at 5am which allows me to witness the busy marina of fishermen sailing off too.
I love not knowing what I will do each day, I spend a lot of time walking and discovering new beautiful places along the coast. Each day brings a new experience, and new people. Everyone I’ve met has been so kind, and happy to talk with me about our lives on a deeper level than just the surface. I am happy with my work and social life here, I’m loving Oregon.