Final Days: Fishing and Writing

ODFW Adventures: IX

I can barely believe that ten weeks has already passed by, and I will spend the next 4 days wrapping everything up at ODFW. Last week was a short week for me, as I had Friday off to travel to Vancouver, WA to be in my Cousin’s wedding for the weekend. But I spent the time I had working hard on the presentation I gave on Thursday and reading and writing more for the annotated bibliography. My presentation turned out very well, thanks to the practice run I had in Ali’s office with the Nearshore Team as my audience. At the symposium I had some technical difficulties to begin with, as my presentation saved in a very wonky fashion, but after downloading it one more time, the pictures and titles were all perfectly in place. And after my presentation, my team congratulated me on my presentation and the professional answers I gave to questions asked after my presentation. All the previous and following presentations were just as good, and it was fantastic to hear in-depth descriptions of all the other Sea Grant interns’ internships. It was a great ending to the Summer Scholars program, and I hope that all the years to come with new scholars turn out as good as this one!

I was only able to add a few articles to the annotated bibliography due to my limited schedule, but that seems to be the story with this document–slow and steady gets the job done. I hope to pick up the pace and read all of the last articles and add them to the bibliography this week, but with my other work items taking priority, I will simply do my best to finish the bibliography in the next 4 days.

I wasn’t able to write this blog yesterday because I spent the day FISHING on a boat in Port Orford! Although I have a lot of work to finish up this week, it was nice to take a break and get some fun cross training. Besides, I need to practice my fishing skills if I really want a career in this field! I ended up catching 5 black rockfish for the Marine Reserves Program to measure and weigh. They were looking at the different fish species that live at Redfish Rocks, where a Marine Reserve will soon be put into place. All in all, it was a windless day with many flies and just a few fish pulled onto the boat. But beyond that, we saw some amazing wildlife–several species of fish, tufted puffins, jellyfish, whales (even a tail out of the water!), and porpoises right next to the boat! It was a great way to start my last week and I will remember that trip for the rest of my life.

This week I will also be writing up the protocols for the Herring project for determining the spawning biomass and quota, making the maps, and likely revising the egg counting protocol after our Herring meeting this Thursday that we are having with people that are/have been involved with the project. Even though this meeting is on my second-to-last day of work, it will likely be one of the most significant meetings of my internship, as (hopefully) changes will result from the hour of vigorous discussion.

Last, but not least, I will be spending some time putting together my final report for Sea Grant. Evaluating and reflecting on this internship will not be difficult, as I have learned so many things about myself and my interests that I could likely write a chapter in a book, but it will take more time to get my thoughts organized and write a flowing essay on the topic. But I have confidence that this, and my other two tasks, will be accomplished before 5 pm on Friday.  

I had such an amazing and memorable summer, and it wouldn’t have been the same without my mentors of the Nearshore team, Greg, Ali, and Delia, or the other Summer Scholars, Sea Grant staff, and the rest of the staff at ODFW. Thank you everyone so much for such an amazing experience!

A Week of Reading.

ODFW Adventures: IIX

Sometimes, you’ve gotta spend some quality time with the things that aren’t wildly exciting. So this week, now that I’ve accomplished my big task of the determining the herring quota and making the spawning maps, I spent all 5 days, 8 hours each, working on one thing: the annotated bibliography. If you remember, I started on this task several weeks ago. The bibliography consists of citations and annotations of many articles, mostly peer-reviewed journal articles, that will help the Nearshore Team accomplish the task of writing the supplementary document about climate change for the Oregon Nearshore Strategy. That being said, I have now read over 50 articles about climate change related to things as large as all the oceans on our watery planet, to as small as a single species in Newport’s own Yaquina Bay. My knowledge of upwelling, salinity changes, temperature changes, freshwater inputs, and other ocean-related factors has increased ten-fold since I came to Newport and began this specific task. But I will admit, I am now even more confused about wave height changes due to climate change now that I have read several very confusing, mathematical, and technical journal articles about the subject that I didn’t understand. But with all the time I spent on the bibliography this week, I have read the majority of the articles we have gathered (probably about 80 articles total) and I hope to finish reading and documenting the last few articles before I leave, as I have several tasks left to do in the next two weeks as I finish up my internship. For Sea Grant, I will be preparing a presentation and writing a final report about my internship to submit, while for ODFW I will be writing up protocols for all of the processes in the determination of the herring quota, such as how to count the eggs and make the maps. So I will be very busy in my last days here, and I will hopefully leave the office on the 19th with everything checked off on my to-do list!

This week I simply made a lot of omelets because I bought a rather large amount of salmon at Fred Meyer that I ended up eating all week. With all of my delicious salmon and egg combos, I realized that I always make omelets when I have a lot of random stuff in my refrigerator that I need to use, usually including produce and plain yogurt (a great fat-free creamy addition to your omelets!).We also went crabbing two more times this weekend in Waldport, but sadly we only caught one! But I still have hope of catching more delicious dungeness crabs before I head home! Below is a picture of me holding Guapito, our only crab of the weekend.

The Big Moment!

ODFW Adventures: VII

This weekend, instead of just cooking my food, I went out into the wild and caught it myself! Nicole, a fellow intern, and I went out crabbing on Friday night. Luck struck us as we pulled up our nets and to find four worthy male crabs, who we named Nacho, Maximus, Philip, and Fatty. We got slightly attached to our new pets, but hunger took over as we boiled them thick with seasoning the following afternoon. Cracking away for nearly two hours, we each ate one crab and cracked another to make crab cakes in the future! Not only was it a delicious meal, but one we both worked hard for!

In the office, I had a very exciting week. Why, might you ask, was this week so much more exciting than all the other typing and fish-egg counting weeks? Well, I would like to inform you all that I have OFFICIALLY determined the herring fishery quota in the Yaquina Bay, Newport!!! After starting the maps last week by downloading the points to GIS I made polygons of the areas in which spawn was found and then recorded their area and converted them to shape files. With the newly determined area and estimated percent coverage and rock size recorded on the sample tags for each area location, Ali and I calculated the density (eggs/ft squared) and “corrected area” including the other factors such as rocks (area x percentage x rock are conversion factor) for every area. Using the calculation for the corrected area, we multiplied it by the density to get the spawn (total eggs in the area), which we then divided by 144 (the approximate number of eggs each adult lays–but remember that only females lay eggs, meaning they lay around 288 eggs for both them and the male) to get the herring biomass, which we converted to tons. Then we calculated 20% of the biomass for the quota, meaning that with 10 minutes of hard work after all of the data was organized, we had our quota! I would categorize this as being in the top 10 moments of my life. I mean really, how many people get to determine the quota of a fishery, even if it is a small one?! So there you go, the main task of my internship has been accomplished, and it’s smooth sailing from here on out! (Actually not really…but it’s a motivating thought!) With the shapefiles, I created a density map of the spawn in the Yaquina bay, making two different maps, one of February and one of March, due to the overlap in area of the spawning events. Although it took me an entire day to make the maps just right, it was one of the best days I’ve had in the office so far, and my final product certainly is beautiful!

Since I was so busy with the herring project, I once again did not do a lot for the Nearshore Strategy Update. I worked a little bit more on the annotated bibliography, but I still have a long ways to go on that project. Let’s find out how many more journal articles I can read in the remaining three weeks!

With the time I have left I will also be writing up protocols for nearly every task of the herring project, as it has become a project that is passed around the office in the past few years, and a protocol would make it a much smoother process for the next herring person. I will be writing up how to make the maps, determine the quota, and likely revising the egg counting protocol as well. So hopefully whoever gets to do this next year will have an easier time of it!

What a great week!!

Obscure journal articles to fill in the puzzle…of Oregon’s Nearshore.

ODFW Adventures: Part VI

This week I decided to try an old family recipie that has been passed down–but not from my family. My boyfriend Marc constantly talks about eating a dish called “Machaca,” which the internet says is a dish of finely shaved beef, but the Aros family creates with chorizo (mexican sausage) con huevos (with eggs). Although I didn’t have the exact recipie, I used my best judgement in making the dish by also using bell peppers, jalepenos, garlic, onion, cayenne powder, cilantro, tomatoes, avocadoes, and tortillas. My creation was, in my mind at least, a success! I have always loved the multiple uses eggs can serve in cooking and baking (including several fried egg sandwichs I made this week), and creating a new taste treat with them is always a pleasure.

At ODFW I had a fairly slow work week as I finished up couning the herring egg samples, for real this time! Ali and I began using GIS to map all of the GPS points, but we will delve into the full proccess this week. This will include mapping local distributions into polygons including all egg counts that had similar numbers into one polygon, creating layers to the map. We will the use those polygons to estimate the total number of eggs that were laid in the bay, therefore giving us a viable number to base next year’s quota off of. I am excited to be in the final working stages of this project, and when I am done I will have learned so many techincal details about the computer software I’ve been working with and about how fisheries in Oregon are run and determined.

The Nearshore Strategy part of things was also a bit slow this week, as I only worked on the extensive annotated bibliography that I began a few weeks ago. In this process, I have learned that there are likely billions of scientific journal articles that exist in the world, in many many many extremely research-specific journals, that explain even the smallest niches of our ecosystems. Which is acutally a pleasant surprise, because I have also learned how many species there are that are important to the ecosystem they live in that people don’t generally know about, which therefore leaves them unprotected to any vulnerability. This week the bibliography will begin to be useful as my team members begin to draft out sections of the climate change task for this revision, and I will continue to read articles relating to Oregon’s oceanographic and nearshore climate change to expand the bibliography during this coming week. I hope to be able to report solid progress on that for my next blog!

The Halfway Point!

ODFW Adventures: V

At 5 weeks, I can hardly believe that half of my internship has already flown by! It seems like I just got here!! But I still have 5 weeks left to make my name in a small government branch. And don’t worry, I’ll do my best.

This week I made two food extravaganzas to make up for last week: pad thai and an Indian soup (the name of which I have forgotten). They were both eventually a success, although the soup ended up taking nearly two hours to make. The pad thai, with rice noodles, shrimp, vegetables, and a delicious sauce, was quick and tasty. Next time I think I will add some fresh lemon juice and extra ginger to give it a distinctive zing. The soup was a pureed blend of carrots, coconut, banana, and other ingredients along with pieces of chicken. Despite the time and hardwork it took to create that soup, it is delicious. All in all, I consider it a successful cooking week!

As for ODFW, remember back when I mentioned I was done counting samples, and I was destined to finish out the remaining weeks at my desk? Well, missing samples have been FOUND, and I have begun counting the final 9 samples. This will certainly keep me busy for the coming week, and I am saving my counted samples so that when I write a new protocol that will attempt to confront and fix the issues of high variance I have discovered in my previous samples, I can test my methods. I also downloaded the GPS points where the spawn was collected onto my computer and have successfully used GIS to represent the points on a map of the Yaquina Bay. All things considered, the whole herring project is moving along well and I can’t wait to look back on all I’ve done when I leave Newport!

I also helped work on the Nearshore Strategy by creating a table of all the spelling errors in the original document that will be part of our “Roadmap” task, which will show all the revisions that will have been made during this 5-year review. I also commented on a document that definied several technical terms and acronymns in order to make it easier for the general public to understand.

It seems that I have a busy week coming up, with samples to count, GIS to play with, and working on the annotated bibliography, so I’d better get started!

The days of Desk Work.

ODFW Adventures: Week IV

After an adventurous but tiring weekend sandboarding with some other daring sea grant interns, I did not manage to make my next extravagant dish, but I plan on creating another food-wonder this coming week. In the mean time, I want to say a few words about one of my favorite food subjects: potatoes. You might think they originated in Ireland, or that yukon, red, yellow, white, and russet are the only varieties that exist. But there are actually over four hundred types of potatoes, and these handfuls of colorful potatoes are rooted in the Andean region of Peru. If there’s anything I miss more with my luch, it is a delicious and tasty baked peruvian potato–far more tasteful than any potatoes found in my local Fred Meyer. So if you ever get the chance to try a crAzy purple potato, my advice is do it!

This week, work at ODFW was a little bit more frustrating than I was anticipating. Now that I’m no longer bending over a back-breaking microscope, I miss the times when I counted hundreds of individual herring eggs throughout the day. Instead I have begun my days of desk work, sitting in my comfy chair with strained eyes. I spent the majority of the week working on citations, finishing a bibliography for the updated Strategy Species Table and beginning the largest bibliography of my time–an annotated bibliography for all of the climate change literature we have collected thus far. Having never done an annotated bibliography before, I am quickly learning how to summarize a fact-packed nine page scientific article into six sentences or less. I am also learning a lot about oceanographic climate change in the process, such as the negative affect of ocean acidification on the ability of shell-forming species to use CaCO3. I’ve also been doing google and library searches to find more local articles that will add to our expanding climate change library. 

Along with bibliographies, I attended many many meetings this week! Always a great break in the day, I listened to other people’s projects (Great job so far Nicole Matthias!) and learned more about the status of the updates for the Nearshore Strategy. My team is doing great, and moving at a quick pace to get these updates done before the deadline in December 2012. We have a good start on 3 of our 6 tasks, and the other three are beginning to be thrown on the table as well. It looks like I have more busy-work ahead of me; bibliographies never cease to be necessary.

All in all, things are rolling along swimmingly, and after a meeting with the gentleman that spent many years working with the herring data, I will be able to begin working with the GIS data this week! As well as finishing my bibliographies, of course! Until next week!

Patience pays off!

ODFW Adventures: Part III

To begin to describe my week, I will start by sharing my progress on my non-work-related goal for the summer, which was to learn how to cook. And not just make dinner from a package, but to create authentic meals that I usually find myself going to restaurants to satisfy my cravings. So this week I decided to take my cooking a step further–I cooked something I have never made before, Dahl. This Indian dish of lentils, vegetables, and spices may have taken me nearly two hours to make in our tiny kitchen, but my efforts were a success! Especially when it was served with rice, curried chicken, and naan! I hope to update everyone next week with another new dish!

At ODFW, the most exciting thing I accomplished was counting my very last sample on Friday afternoon, meaning no more bending over a microscope, no more clicking, and no more sore neck muscles! My patience and persistence has finally paid off! All in all, I counted 21 samples and 442 sub-samples that weighed 1-2 grams. It was a long process, but now that I’m finished counting I can use my online GIS training by applying it to this project! Although I still find GIS software to be quite complicated, the online course I took last week was extremely helpful and walked me step by step of how to make different “layers” of a map, using Yellowstone as the example. I learned how to create layers of trails, temperatures, precipitation levels, ranger districts, and other wonderful layers and features you can add to a map with this software. For my project I will be mapping the distribution and abundance of the herring eggs throughout the Yaquina Bay. The abundance that will be calculated with this map will then allow me to predict how many herring will be in the bay next season, and the fishing quota will be set at 20% of the predicted abundance. I am very excited to start the second half of this project in the coming week! 

On the Nearshore Strategy side, I spent the week finding sources to use for the supplemental climate change document my team will be writing. Once I found the articles my team suggested, I organized them into folders based on their emphasis on habitat (for the purposes of the Nearshore Strategy, rocky shore, sandy beach, rocky subtidal, soft-bottom subtidal, and open water) and/or impact type (changes in sea surface temperature, sea level rise, upwelling, hypoxia, storm intensity/erosion and wave height, ocean currents, interannual and interdecadal cycles, ocean acidification, and freshwater inputs). I have learned that although the ocean currently is and will experience many of these different impact types, many articles written by climate scientists and oceanographers focus on temperature changes. Finding this in my research frustrated me because I believe that the complex systems and processes of the ocean are effected by many different impact types, each of which is just as important as the last. Yet I am excited to read the articles in depth and search for more articles to learn more about how climate change will affect the ocean off of the Oregon coast. With these articles I will be creating an annotated bibliography for the climate change document this week that will likely become an appendix to the document. To prepare for this task, I had some practice making a reference sheet this week when I cited the articles Ali used in the overall strategy update. Although it was a great review of how to cite scientific articles, I learned that not all articles (especially when they are found on the internet) are easy or even possible to cite. So I figured out how to cite articles and sources with whatever information is available–I am now a citation master! With this useful skill set, I will be spending next week in the library if anyone needs to find me!

Herring Eggs and Other Oddities.

ODFW Adventures: Part II

Hello again! After having made it through my second week at ODFW in this unfamiliar job I have been given, I am starting to gain my bearings and understand a little bit better what I am expected to accomplish before I pack up my bags and return to studying in the dreary depths of the Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette University. Continued from last week, I counted more herring egg samples at what has become my second desk inside the chem. Lab. With the CV calculations I explained at the end of last week’s blog continuing to be high for most samples, I counted out all 30 subsamples in frustration due to the knowledge that I could theoretically have counted out three whole samples in that time frame. Yet on Friday I allowed myself to count the rest of the bagged samples I have left inside the freezer, and realized that after having counted 11 samples I only have 10 left to go!

As for my place on the Nearshore Strategy team, I am still finding my niche. Our weekly meeting on Wednesday still swirled my brain to muck with all of the unfamiliar details of our work being avidly discussed by my other team members. I was disappointed after the 2 hour meeting that I still felt lost in the project, and still having several questions about the draft outline for our document on climate change, I followed Aly into her office with my questions. Being extremely helpful as she always is, Aly discussed my questions with me and called in Delia, the creator of the outline, to expand the discussion. Although this impromptu second meeting set my stomach grumbling as lunch was delayed an hour and a half, I walked out of the office with access to new reading materials that would guide me through the discussions at our normal meetings and the job of finding sources for our upcoming climate change document research, along with a new sense of purpose.

Alongside these two main “events” of my week, I spent time doing small projects and assignments to keep myself occupied. Using a list of scientific names, I attempted to search for the common names of these species (trust me, this was a lot harder than it sounds!) and proudly found all but 14 of them, I read more, more, and MORE documents (I suspect this will be a popular theme during the rest of my internship), helped clean the chem. Lab with another co-worker (which was judged to not have been cleaned for the last 30 years or so—definitely a good use of my time!), and began going over some basic GIS training that was found on the ODFW website. Although the powerpoint slides I went through taught me a lot of basic terms of GIS and its main purposes and abilities in map-making, I still find myself lost with this incredible software.

Based on this week’s list of work and achievements, I will continue diligently counting samples next week in the lab, read through the sources I have already found for the climate change document to learn about ocean issues related to climate change and sort the documents into categories for the rest of my team’s convenience, and hopefully go through several more forms of GIS training to help me understand this immense resource for future use. Wish me luck!

ODFW Adventures: Part I

Hello everyone! My name is Lauren Dimock, and I am going to be a Junior at Willamette University this coming fall majoring in environmental science. Over the summer, I am going to be blogging with weekly updates about my experience as a Sea Grant Scholar at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC). I arrived at HMSC knowing only that I would be working under my Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) mentor Greg Krutzikowsky on two separate projects: estimating the spawning biomass of Pacific Herring in the Yaquina Bay and updating ODFW’s Nearshore Strategy. After a day of orientation at Oregon State University and settling in at the small but cozy dorms at HMSC, I began to find out the details of my internship.

My first day of work was a special treat, as I was lucky enough to go deep sea fishing as part of the Black Rockfish Pit Tagging Crew of ODFW for their last day on the ocean. Having only gone deep sea fishing one other time, I was no expert at catching ocean fish, so I was lucky that two very experienced and kind fishermen on the boat helped me out. They even risked their own catch to make sure my rod was in good working condition and the fish I caught made it on board safely to be quickly measured and tagged before being let go to swim back down to their homes at the bottom of the sea. From this experience, I learned to identify several types of nearshore fish, including Black, Canary, Copper, and Yelloweye Rockfish, as well as Lingcod. It was also very interesting to observe and participate in a different project from my own that will also attempt to estimate the health of a fishery by tracking their locations throughout the coming year.

My second day at work, which was really my first day of work, I was introduced to everyone around the office and given several thick documents to read and familiarize myself with, including the Nearshore Strategy and the Oregon Conservation Strategy. This is my homework to become adept enough to begin working with the Nearshore team to update the Nearshore Strategy and begin the process of combining the document with the Oregon Conservation Strategy. In my first of many weekly meetings, I learned several tasks that were aimed to update the document, including the addition of a section about estuaries, comments on the progress made from the 16 original recommendations given, general editing of minor formatting issues of the document, and the creation of a separate document about the current and future effects of climate change on strategy habitats and species. I am currently signed up to begin research for the base of the climate change document, but we have not yet carved a clear path for the layout of this document . Therefore, until our next meeting I will simply be finishing reading the Oregon Conservation Strategy so that I can better understand and participate in our next meeting.

I began the herring project on Thursday, where another member of Greg’s team named Aly drove me around the Yaquina Bay and estuary and showed me where she did her daily surveys looking for roe from February to April, which allowed me to familiarize myself with the names of the places where the roe was collected. On Friday I began counting samples. The roe are all attached to a algae named Fucus , and after measuring the entire sample size I measured out 1-2 gram sub-samples, and counted all of the eggs on both sides of the Fucus. After doing 10 of these, I checked the CV, and if it was below 0.3, then I moved to my next sample. I actually find this work to be slightly entertaining, with my clicker ready to go in my left hand and the radio singing in the background.

It has been frustrating to read the several hundred page documents I’ve been given, but understandably necessary. But the lab work is keeping things interesting, and with two projects to juggle for the next nine weeks I don’t think I will need anything extra to do. Next week I will continue counting samples and reading documents, but I will hopefully gain a solid understanding of what my role will be in the updating of the Nearshore Strategy. I’m excited to be working on these important projects at ODFW, and look forward to providing more updates next week!