This summer I’ve been a part of the Shellfish and Estuarine Assessment of Coastal Oregon (SEACOR) team, a program of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. This shellfish program conducts surveys to estimate bay clam abundance in estuaries on the Oregon coast, this summer’s field work is in Coos Bay. Recreational clamming is a popular activity amongst locals and tourists in Oregon, commercial clamming is sold mainly as bait for Dungeness Crab fishers, supporting livelihoods. Our work is to ensure that this fishery is sustainable by suggesting conservative quotas for commercial clamming and daily catch limits for recreational.
When I began as an intern I dove into field work, my first day consisted of basic boat operations (which I knew none of), dredging randomly computed GPS locations, and filling in data sheets of habitat characteristics. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks in I could see the big picture and importance of the work we were doing. As an intern I’ve been given opportunities to be a part of more than my teams immediate work, such as participating in an ODFW shellfish creel survey, a Cockle clam survey, shadowing water quality monitoring specialists, learning how the work and research ODFW does contributes to policy making, and community outreach events. That first day as an intern I could only see the clams and crabs in front of me, sorting them is only one component of it all.
One thing I can say with certainty about this internship is that I haven’t been bored. My hours are irregular, my work weeks are all different from the last, and something new occurs each day. Here are a few special and random memories that stick out to me from working with my team this summer:
- A Hagfish swam by and my coworker dropped our equipment to catch and show me what a Hagfish was and how interesting they are
- I used the first aid kit’s binoculars to ogle at bald eagles
- Sitting in the warm sun, cleaning eelgrass, listening to reggae, and talking about our favorites movies
- Seeing my first adult Dungeness Crab
- Swimming from the boat to an RV park to use their porta potty
- Driving a boat for the first time, traveling a whopping 5mph yet being so nervous to do so
- Learning how to tie a bowline knot which took me many tries
- Watching one unfortunate Sand Shrimp be the most popular attraction in the shellfish touch tank
I have two weeks left in Oregon and I’ve begun to think how much I will miss my team, Coos Bay, and the work I’ve been given. The employees I’ve had the pleasure to work with at ODFW are genuine, lively, and hardworking people. I don’t get sick of being on a boat with them 5-10 hours a day, they’ve made me realize it may be hard to find a job where I am as happy to be at work as this one. I am so lucky to have been accepted as an Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar.