As Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) Marine Reserves’ intertidal intern, I am fortunate enough to travel all along Oregon’s coast to participate in fieldwork. So far I have visited 4 of the 5 marine reserves: Otter Rock Marine Reserve, Cascade Head Marine Reserve, Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve, and Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve. The first time I went to the intertidal in Oregon I was shocked at how different it was from the intertidal where I live in Southern California. Otter Rock was the first place I visited and the intertidal area there is massive, continuing on out well into the ocean. But because Oregon’s intertidal areas are so vast and surrounded by such large sandy beaches, the walk to our sites always takes way longer than you think it will. At Otter Rock and Cascade Head I saw so many cool organisms. I got to see tidepool sculpins, an opalescent nudibranch, and spotted dorid nudibranchs.
Cape Perpetua was my favorite site to explore because the sea stars there are massive and very abundant. At that site I helped count sea stars per age class and species while looking for indications of sea star wasting syndrome. Around one tidepool I counted over 60 sea stars. Unfortunately there were some that showed signs of wasting such as the ochre sea star below which is losing its grip, one of the symptoms of wasting.
This last Tuesday I was fortunate to join a researcher from OSU at Redfish Rocks and help with her experiment on intertidal sponges. Since Redfish Rocks is a 4 hour drive from Newport we camped the night before and woke up at 4:30am to hike to her experiment site in the intertidal. One of the best parts was that she brought her dogs with her for the trip.
While I do spend a decent amount of time doing fieldwork, I spend more in the office analyzing data about the intertidal, helping with science communication about the intertidal, and creating field guides for sea star wasting symptom identification. I really enjoy seeing all the steps from collecting the data to finding out what it means and finally communicating this with the public.
But not all my time in Oregon is spent working, I have gotten to experience so many of the amazing things that Oregon has to offer. I went blueberry picking in Corvallis, saw Thor’s Well spraying, hiked in the Siuslaw National Forest, and so much more.