First Impressions as a Sea Grant Scholar

My name is Melissa Wood and I am a 2019 Oregon Sea Grant Scholar, which means spending 10 weeks on the Oregon coast while working with a marine science team. I have been here about 4 weeks and the Oregon coast is amazing. There are so many things to see and do that it feels like there will never be enough time for it all. As part of the Sea Grant Scholar experience, I am staying in a yurt (for the first time) on an estuary reserve. Here are some pictures from one of the yurts on the property and one of an attempt at the view but it is hard to do justice to the beauty of the area.

One of the yurts on the reserve.

Inside of the yurt showing bunk beds, table with chairs, and a dresser.

My attempt at capturing the view outside the yurts.


Yurt life has been an interesting cross between camping and staying at an Airbnb. What’s not shown in the pictures above is a ranch house, which sits right by the yurts with two bathrooms and a full kitchen, so yurt life has been sort of like camping but warmer and right next to all of the comforts of home. An added bonus is the yurt is on a nature reserve so it is located right next to hiking trails, bird watching trails, and a great kayaking spot. Yurt life has been an unexpectedly awesome part of the summer.

The real focus of being here this summer is to participate in a permanent project of the shellfish program within the Marine Resources Program of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). Though the official project is titled ‘Shellfish and Estuarine Assessment of Coastal Oregon’ it is often shortened to SEACOR. The SEACOR team has a big job tracking clam populations and studying estuarine habitats along all of the bays in Oregon. The information collected is useful to recreational clammers by letting people know where to clam and what kinds of clams are found. Even more importantly, the data SEACOR provides is used for conservation purposes to ensure future generations will be able to enjoy the abundance of life and beauty of the Oregon estuaries.

My fourth week with the team has just finished and I have learned so much already. Everyone has been welcoming, patient, and willing to share their extensive knowledge about estuaries and the project.

This is data collection/field work season for SEACOR so that is what I am learning this summer. There are three main types of data collection going on this summer:

  • Rapid Assessment Method (RAM)
  • Detailed Assessment Method (DAM)
  • Eel grass habitat mapping using drones

My next post will have more detail about the data collection methods (hint, it involves lots and lots of mud). Until then here a picture of me learning how to megacore, part of the Detailed Assessment Method.

Image by: Bob Mapes

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4 thoughts on “First Impressions as a Sea Grant Scholar

  1. This is my new favorite blog. Used to be, I was but a child. But now, having read this, I’ve achieved enlightenment. Truly a thrilling read.

  2. Hi Melissa – thank you for your detailed post and I am so glad to hear that yurt life is going well! I’m also dying to know more about the “Detailed Assessment Method” after seeing your photo :) I hadn’t realized that recreational clamming was an important enough part of the ecosystem balance to merit such in-depth investigations. Are there limits to how many clams can be collected in a day by one person? Do folks have to get permits? What’s the difference between a “recreational” clammer and a “professional” clammer as defined by SEACOR? Thanks for all your hard work on this!

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