About Katie Gregory

Originally from Rochester, NY, I finished my B.S. in Marine Science from Stony Brook University in Spring 2017 before heading out to Oregon for the Sea Grant Summer Scholars Program. I am working with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Shellfish and Estuarine Habitat Assessment of Coastal Oregon (SEACOR) project under mentor Tony D'Andrea, but assisting in several other things with ODFW along the way. I am based in Charleston, Oregon living at Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) and am hoping to explore the OR coast as much as possible in my free time!

Fairwell for now

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind- from preparing and then giving my final symposium presentation, to eclipse chasing, to working the Oregon State Fair, it has been a wild ride.

Let’s back up to week 9. Joe and I had finished our native oyster surveys, which sent us all around the bay to over well over 60 sites. I had helped in developing the qualitative methods, which were for determining the abundance of oysters at a site to a “level”, ranging from absent to high abundance. It is meant to take little time and to be repeatable. I wrote up those methods which will later be used to draft a final report, which I’m pretty excited about. I didn’t get too far with data analysis, because I barely had time to enter it all while also making my poster and final talk, but I do know that compared to the previous 2 studies in ’96 and ’06, there are more oysters in Coos Bay. More work will be done checking previously mitigated sites for successful recruitment and on determining range expansion.

Symposium day was in Newport at the Hatfield Marine Science Center on August 18, 2017. We were required to make a 4×3 foot poster of our summer work and prepare a 5-min talk paired with a visual presentation. Many hours of feedback and editing took place that week, but I was very pleased with my first ever academic poster. I also used Prezi for the first time for my talk (for those of you who don’t know, it’s an online resource that is kind of a step up from PowerPoint, with cool graphics and transitions), and though there were some technical difficulties, it looked great and I feel I still gave a well-delivered, informational talk. After the poster session that afternoon Julia and I took to Rogue Brewery for a celebratory drink to end the semi-stressful day.

Me and my lovely poster, titled “The science behind managing Oregon’s shellfisheries”.

In case you live under a rock, the great American eclipse was this past Monday! So, the day following the symposium Julia and I were headed inland. We were not going to risk staying on the coast and missing totality due to the fog, so in our search for a place to get the best viewing we were lucky enough to be invited to stay with a friend of her sister’s in Salem, OR which fell right in the path of totality (and, is loads warmer and sunnier than the south coast weather we’ve grown tired of). On the way to our final destination, we made a stop north of Newport in Depoe Bay, dubbed the Whale Watching Capital of the Oregon Coast by its visitor association. They have a resident pod of grey whales this time of year that are easily visible right off shore. Armed with Julia’s binoculars we spent over an hour making what must have been hundreds of spout, fluke, and back observations (if I had to guess there were at least a dozen animals there at the time). It was spectacular. 10000/10 would recommend. From there we took a nice drive from the coast through forest to the drier, grassier interior of the state. Julia mandated that we make a pit stop at Burgerville, a local chain that is locally sourced, sporting menu items like a marionberry shake. Again, 10000/10 would recommend. We met up with her family and family friends late that evening and spent Sunday afternoon doing a wonderful, waterfall-filled hike at Silver Falls state park. Monday morning it was time for the big event! We got up early to scope out a prime spot on the neighborhood golf course. We were surprised to find that we were one of only about 7 groups who had staked a claim there, after all the media hype about crowds and traffic and such (seriously, they were treating like a natural disaster- “stock up on food, water, gas, ahh!”). Equipped with our eclipse glasses and breakfast, we watched the entire thing from the start of the partial eclipse till the last bit of the sun peaked its way out from behind the moon. With the eyes of an excited child on Christmas morning, we all ooh-ed and ahh-ed as the temperature around us dropped and darkness began to creep in. We experienced about 2 minutes of totality, and it had everyone awe struck (I’m getting goosebumps writing about it). We popped champagne and toasted to the wonder of the universe. The “diamond ring” shone beautifully and an artificial sunset was created on the horizon. I’m so glad we went, and I think the whole event may have created a new wave of eclipse junkies.

My final week at work involved a couple more oyster surveys with Scott, measuring shrimp, and cleaning up data. On Wednesday, the office threw me a last-day-in -Charleston party, with a very pink heavily frosted chocolate cake. It was very sweet (the sentiment and the pastry). Thursday I made my last drive up 101 to Newport, as I’d be spending my last day of the program on Friday working the first shift at the ODFW shellfish display at the Oregon State Far! The 3-hr drive didn’t annoy me as much as the past few trips, being that it was the last time I’d be doing it. I listened to NPR and took in all the beauty and grandeur of the coast, and was very content. Upon arriving in Newport I met up with Liz, Ylva, and Graham and together we packed the trailer with display stuff, gallons upon gallons of frozen sea water, and the animals. We got to the fairgrounds in Salem late in the afternoon and between unloading, set up, and making sure the animals would be fine overnight (aka making sure the pump and chiller systems were operating correctly) it was a long day. We had dinner and finally got back to Liz’s where I was also staying at around 9 pm. It was all worth it though because we did not walk into a disaster Friday morning, the animals were A-OK, and we were able to finish setting up and even take a breather before the fair opened at 10:00. I had a blast working the exhibit; donning my very official beige button up, I talked to many Oregonians young and old for about 4 hours. We had an estimated 600 people (that’s a conservative estimate) during that time. I had some very meaningful interactions, including talking to an older gentleman about invasive green crabs and teaching a brave little girl how to hold and sex a crab- she got so comfortable with it, she began teaching others. I’m very happy to have gotten a taste of outreach experience (shout out to Liz for letting me crash family weekend, as her daughter was turning 3 and her parents were in town).

This weekend, I’m accompanying Julia on her drive home up to Seattle. Yesterday we stopped in Portland to check out Powell’s books and grab some food, and then made our way to Mount St. Helen’s! Such a cool place, full of interesting history and amazing landscapes. Shoutout to Julia for being my travel companion and closest friend throughout my time in Oregon, this summer wouldn’t have been the same without you. And to her family for opening their home to me and letting me pet their dogs.

I am very VERY excited to be home in a few days, but this summer has been a memorable and enriching experience for me and my career. I’ve gained skills and made connections that I know will benefit me greatly in the future, and I’m ready for whatever comes my way.


Over and out,


Enzo & Hank

It’s week 8 and I’ve made 2 wonderful furry friends- Enzo the Border Collie and Hank the Australian Shepherd.
They are the family dogs of the Groth family, whom I have been house sitting for since the start of the month. Scott, one of my mentors at ODFW is ironically vacationing in our hometown of Rochester, NY, and asked me before he left to take care of their house, dogs, bearded dragon lizard, fish, and plants for about two weeks. He and his wife showed me around the place and gave me the run down on my duties. They put me up in their lovely guest room and gave me full use of their Prius and all the amenities (including hot tub and even more importantly, food and laundry ~lol). Not a bad gig, huh?

I quickly learned that taking care of a home isn’t as easy as it seems, and since I had a lot of things to remember to do on any given day (fetch the mail, give the dog his meds, etc) I resourcefully made a spreadsheet calendar to check off daily tasks- as any scientist would do. But really, the responsibilities have been a breeze, especially given the fact that through this whole thing I’ve gotten to play with doggies!

Hank is an old boy, he is almost fully deaf and blind. But he’s a real sweetie and takes his meds just fine morning and night (disguised in a piece of cheese or peanut butter of course). He’s a simple guy who very much enjoys food, and has mastered the new doggie door they bought right before their trip. In the past week he’s been uncharacteristically energetic, running to the door with Enzo when I utter that coveted phrase “You wanna go out?”. Walks with the two of them are funny because I’ve basically got Enzo on one leash pulling up front an Hank on the other slowly moseying behind, stopping to smell all the smelly smells. And, I may be crazy, but I swear Hank can sometimes see where I throw the ball. But it’s about 2% of the time, and even when I drop it at his paws it usually goes unnoticed. It remains a mystery.

Enzo, the younger, hyperactive half of the pair has been my real buddy the past couple weeks. He’s the cutest lil bugger, who greets me at the door and sleeps at my bedside. We’ve been on a few adventures to different parks and hikes after work and on weekends, and he makes the big house feel a lot cozier. He’s got these crazy eyes that are just hysterical, and his deeply ingrained herding skills come out anytime a ball is in the mix. He’s the fastest dog I’ve ever seen, and is relentless at fetch (I call it “fetch”but really he only brings the ball 50%-75% of the way back to me, so it’s exercise for the both of us). We only stop playing when I’ve decided he’s definitely too tired and needs a break, if it were up to him he’d run till his feet bled.
It’s been so nice having them around, they are the highlight of my day. I’m going to have puppy withdrawals (and miss the use of the car) when Scott gets back on Wednesday.

As for work I spent a whoooole lot of time on the water this week with Joe conducting our native oyster surveys- more on that later (maybe even with some results!).

I’ve been applying for jobs and internships and fervently trying to find a balance between pursuing my career goals- which right now pretty much keeps me poor and away from home-  and what my heart wants- which is to spend some time with my family and friends and save money. I actually just completed a very successful interview for an AmeriCorps position with the Coos Watershed Association, which is the perfect balance of the outreach/education and science in the form of fish biology. But, it would require me to make the leap of moving across the country at the end of the month (!!!) and making barely enough money to break even for 11 months. I’m quite conflicted, but I am also excited by all the opportunities I’ve been finding.

Anyway, here are some cute dog pictures.

Enzo at Blacklock Point (such a good poser)

Hank dozin'

Enzo giving crazy eyes

The ball literally sank... was not expecting that

Handsome Hank



Week 7: Under Pressure


It’s what pushes us to perform our best, it’s sometimes hard to handle….and  it’s also what created Crater Lake.

This week was a pretty routine work week- I spent the first half megacoring with the SEACOR team and the latter half in the office doing background research for our oyster survey, counting shrimp, and conducting surveys of local recreational crabbers/clammers. Pretty low pressure as far as work is concerned.

However, this week we received information on our final symposium taking place the 9th week of the program, for which we have to prepare a 5 minute talk and poster to present to the Sea Grant audience. The due dates for when these final products have to be submitted are fast approaching. Intro pressure. I have done enough public speaking to feel pretty comfortable giving these sorts of presentations. But in such a short time frame, trying to relay across enough information to draw an audience seems a difficult task. I’ve also never created a professional poster before, and trying to get it done in the midst of what will almost surely be my most time-consuming work week to date (with the native oyster survey happening Monday- Friday with just Joe and myself hitting 60+ site by foot, boat, etc), just does not sound appealing. That being said, I will change out of my grumpy pants and rise to the occasion to put together something I will be able to show off with some dignity at the final symposium.

Beyond the pressure of the program, I’m feeling external pressure as well. With only a few weeks left in my internship, I’ll be back home before I know it. The pressure of finding a job to come back to is intensifying. I have always been a person with forethought, planning my next move to get me to my next goal. I remember the relief I felt after being accepted into this program, because it meant I had a next step after graduating college. But I’m at a dead end. This time (as of now) I don’t have a next step waiting for me when I get done. And I don’t like that, not one bit. My long-term plan is to go back to school in Fall ’18 for my master’s, but find a full time position in the mean time to save money for school and make a dent in my existing loans. But finding a full time position in anything even remotely close to my field is proving difficult. Especially in my home state of NY. I’ve been away from home for 4 years and the thought of being back in Rochester for awhile after graduating was comforting. But if I can’t find work I fear I’ll feel paralyzed. Like I’m not living up to the expectations I had for my life beyond graduation.

I have been putting out applications, editing my LinkedIn profile, contacting old mentors- everything they tell you to do when looking for a job. So far, I’ve only gotten rejections or no response at all. Dealing with the rejection has been a bit of a struggle for me, mainly just because it’s often blamed on my lack of work experience. Well how am I supposed to get the experience if no one will hire me?! (I realize this is an issue 99% of recent grads have all been through/ relate to, but this is my blog so let me have my pity party moment, thanks). I kind of hoped having a degree would put an end to my interning days/ working for minimum wage, but I don’t think I’ll be in a big girl job making the “big” bucks anytime soon. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and hope something turns up (if you’re reading this and you have a job opening- hire me? :) or if you have info on any positions please send it my way!).


Now on to hydrothermal pressure. Ah yes, the fascinating natural disaster that gave rise to beautiful Crater Lake. 7,700 years ago the catastrophic eruption of Mount Mazama led the mountaintop to collapse in on itself and form a massive bowl-like depression called a caldera. The caldera, almost 4000 ft deep, then filled with water from rainfall and snow events, to form a lake 1943 ft deep, the deepest in the United States.

The geologic history of the lake is fascinating but its natural beauty is what’ll take your breath away. It was my first time being in a national park, and even with such a high volume of visitors the park was pristine, with the natural features so well preserved, and human presence undetected in a lot of areas. I was in awe all day, impressed by the natural structures and national park service alike. We took a beautiful hike- that was classified as strenuous but totally doable, and not super crowded- up Garfield Peak, which took us through wildflowers, hordes of butterflies, a bit of snow, and followed the edge of the caldera almost the whole way.

Later on we took another hike, this time down to the water at the only access point to the lake. It was a sunny, warm day and I jumped right in without hesitation. After a few sharp breaths and the initial shock of the cold I actually adjusted to the temperature pretty quickly. Julia joined me and we both took our time swimming (a deviation from most people who get in, can’t handle the cold and get the hell out) and taking in the views above and below us. I’m not a religious person, but being in that gorgeous blue water was a spiritual experience. So was sitting in a rocking chair in the back of the luxurious lodge with a drink in hand, looking out over the park while the sun sank lower in the sky. It was a perfect day.

Crater Lake National Park

Till next time,





Some of my more loyal readers may have noticed that I haven’t posted in awhile- and that’s ’cause I’ve been too busy having fun in the Oregon wilderness! That, and there’s no service in the woods.

The past couple weeks have been very eventful: the mid-summer check in and practice presentation for Sea Grant, 2 camping trips in 2 weekends, UAS surveys in Tillamook (more travel), and experimental design back at the Charleston ODFW office.

The mid-summer check in was basically a run through of our projects thus far, presented in front of the other scholars and some Sea Grant admins. I went way over the allotted time (oops, will fix for the final talk) but was proud to share all that I’ve been involved in with my 2 mentors at ODFW. It was also cool to hear what everyone else had been up to. The provided lunch and bbq that followed weren’t a bad touch either.

That Friday we headed inland as a group to spend the weekend camping somewhere east of Corvallis (I still don’t exactly know where we were, all I cared about was that it was hot enough to wear a tank top and shorts- finally). We spent some quality time together setting up camp- shout out to Julia for always sharing her tent, chillin in the creek, and eating around the camp fire. I think we all learned new details about each other, which is always cool when you’re dealing with people who come from all different backgrounds. The highlight of the trip was on Saturday, when we took the highly anticipated hike to the Tamolitch blue pool. It was way overpopulated for my taste, but at first sight of the water I understood why. Crystal clear and intensely blue, the pool sat below a series of cliffs perfect for plunging into the freezing and astonishingly deep water below. Some scholars partook in the 70 ft jump in the 30-something degrees fahrenheit water, I however opted for the quick leap off the edge and scramble out as quickly as possible. Though beautiful, that water was bitchin cold. But I’m glad to say I did it, as did all but one of the other scholars.

Bluey blue of the blue pool

Summer scholars at the blue pool!

Getting back into the work week after an exciting and tiring weekend wasn’t easy, but on Monday we packed up and head out to Tillamook to run unmanned aerial system (UAS) surveys of the tide flats the next morning. The UAS consists of a UAV (we don’t use “drone” but, yeah a drone) that has been programmed with a flight plan and fitted with a camera. There’s a lot more background that goes into the flight plan, like the type of camera, the height the vehicle will fly at, etc, but this is not my forte. My job was to assist the ground team with setting ground control points and recording their gps positions. The vehicle flies over these points for scaling purposes and to later on put all of the images together to form one solid view. We also did assessments of quads within the flight path, since the whole point of the day was to compare human surveys with what the drone’s image captures. If the UAS surveys can be as efficient as having people on the ground, using this method could save a lot of man hours (aka money) and potentially help the crew avoid safety risks associated with working in mud and on the water.

Tony and I setting GCPs (ground control points) for the UAV


Me being a pack mule for flags and quads

After returning from Tillamook I rejoined Joe and Scott in Charleston to begin planning a quantitative and qualitative survey of the native Olympia oysters, Ostrea lurida, around Coos Bay. There had been previous work done for quantitative measurements, with methods in place for estimating abundance at a site. What I am now more involved with is the qualitative methods for being able to walk onto a site and quickly assign it a ranking, with the ranks signifying varying abundances of oysters. Together Scott, Joe and I discussed the best way to go about this in a timely manner, since we had decided to do about 100 sites, and I have been tasked with writing up the methods section. I am excited at the idea of possible getting mentioned in a publication of this study. Here we are searching for the oysters on their most common habitat, rip rap:

Oyster surveys

This past weekend included a trip to Crater Lake but that deserves more attention than a mention at the bottom of this post.

With that, I sign off.

Can’t believe its already almost August!





Week 4: Show me the cockles!

My favorite part about my placement for this internship thus far has been its erratic nature. I mean this in the best way possible! No two weeks are the same ; my schedule is always changing, and with it my tasks (partially due to splitting my time between 2 mentors). This week held in store some challenging statistics work and a new survey for cockle clams in the South Slough Estuary.

I will spare my readers from going too far into detail on the stats stuff, but basically I have been asked by Scott (the ODFW shellfish biologist and pink shrimp fishery expert) to assess the current rule for how pink shrimp takes are measured by authorities, and to see if we can come up with a better system that requires less work to get the same value. This can be done using a power analysis, which determines the sample size necessary for your experiment. Generally, the greater the sample size the more statistical power. However, we want to avoid huge sample sizes because that requires time and resources. And there lies my chore- to find a happy medium that gets the job done better than the current, arbitrary rule (found here #635-005-0645-  http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/oars_600/oar_635/635_005.html ) .

For the cockle survey we set off as a crew of three (Joe, Liz [both ODFW employees], and myself), without the guidance of our trusted leader Scott, who was suffering from severe back pain. Though we were all first-timers to this particular survey, we had full confidence in our ability to run a smooth operation. The survey methods are fairly simple- 1. find your waypoint 2. lay down the 1 meter-by- meter quadrat and take note of the kind of substrate it is on 3. rake in one direction and pull out any cockle clams you unearth, then record that number 4. rake in the opposite direction and do the same. The reason for raking twice is to get a detection rate differential between the first and second swipe. It is almost always an 80% detection rate on the first swipe.

Raking for cockles


Minus one navigational hiccup, day 1 of the survey went without a hitch. I got to practice more of my GPS skills as I led the team from waypoint to waypoint (which I had generated on our maps using a GIS program- nbd), and soon we had completed nearly all of our 60-point goal. We would have gotten all of them too, if it hadn’t been for those meddling tides! We brought our bag-o-clams back to the lab to be weighed and measured and entered into the data base with the previous years’ data. This survey has been done for almost a decade and the goal is to compare the densities at two sites- one that is open to commercial cockle fishing (they’re often used for bait), and one that falls within the South Slough National Estuarine Reserve that is only lightly recreationally clammed.

The next few days were the same, with the only differences being that we were rejoined by Scott and that we started at the heavily fished site and then moved up to the less exploited site. The south slough was a beautiful work space, we only had to deal with a few sticky spots on the flats (my waders have never been so clean at the end of the day), and we were surrounded by wildlife. Joe, being the typical birder, has an exceptional eye and ear for birds and their calls and never fails to point one out for me. We saw a couple juvenile bald eagles fly right in front of us, and drove past some fat sunbathing seals in the boat. The beauty combined with some great senses of humor made the work go fast, even if we had a lot more clams to carry. It was a fun time.

On a more personal note (since I’ve gotten a few friends and family to read these things), I wanted to share that my time in Oregon has inspired  the chef in me. My meals are still mediocre at best, but I really enjoy cooking for myself, especially after years of being stuck on a meal plan. I’ve found joy in planning my meals ahead and making a fine tuned list for the grocery store (which totally helps with budgeting). I’ve been incorporating so many veggies into classically easy college kid foods- like eggs and pasta- yummy and healthy. I’ve made several calls home to my mom along the way to ask some pretty basic food prep questions, and she’s been very helpful. It’s a process, but you gotta start somewhere. Pictured below is a meal I made a couple nights ago- garlic, onion, zucchini, and broccoli with parmesan and alfredo sauce over whole wheat shells.

Bon appétit



Week 3: Tillamook 101

Week 3: Tillamook 101

The Lead Up

Following the holiday this week (which we enjoyed with firework-viewing and snacks on the beach) I traveled 4 hours north to accompany Tony at the Tillamook Estuary Partnership’s (referred to hereafter as TEP) meeting to discuss their Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP).
TEP is a non-profit organization consisting of many partner groups from federal and more local levels- from Oregon Department of Forestry to Bureau of Land Management to Oregon Department of Agriculture- that exists to conserve and restore Tillamook County’s estuaries and watersheds. This is no small feat, as there are 5 different bays and estuaries that fall under their protection, the largest of them being Tillamook Bay which holds a designation as a “Bay of National Significance” for its role as an economic and ecological resource. For more background on the watersheds themselves and TEP see here: http://www.tbnep.org/about-us.php.
The premise of this meeting was to revise the existing nearly 20-year-old document that serves as the current CCMP. So, my first step to prepare for attendance was to read over and take notes on the ten-odd chapters of the old plan, as well as several pdf documents Tony had sent me that encompassed the planning thus far. When they call this plan “comprehensive” they aren’t kidding. It was a lot of reading about many different aspects of resource management, with focus on four main issues: water quality, habitat loss/simplification, erosion/sedimentation, and flooding. Beyond that, it included a section on the implementation and financing of the plan (money makes the world go ‘round), as well as future research needs. Since my internship surrounds the assessment of shellfish and their habitat, I paid extra close attention to sections regarding those animals. I gathered that Tillamook has a long history of commercial oyster fishing and clamming as well as recreational use.

0000 00

Armed with my notes, I packed my bag and started my journey to Newport, where I’d be meeting Tony and we’d carpool the rest of the way to Tillamook. I took advantage of my early start and use of the state vehicle and made a pit stop at the Coos Bay farmer’s market (which for some odd reason is held on Wednesday mornings). After picking up some blackberries and the most beautiful breakfast taco I’ve ever seen (pictured below), I was on my way. The drive was very scenic and went well despite the on and off radio availability and bridge construction. On the second leg of the trip Tony drove and talked to me about the history of each town we went through on U.S. Route 101, which basically forms the main road in all of those towns (makes for slow driving). The 101, or Oregon Coast highway here, is teeming with tourists in the summer months, which is no surprise considering it accesses more than 80 state parks along its length. The amount of hotels and resorts was a little perplexing to me, as the climate here does not really meet my expectations for a beach side vacation, but nonetheless most signs read no vacancy. And don’t even get me started on the R.V.s / R.V. parks. R.V.s far as the eye can see. We didn’t have a set time for arrival to Tillamook since the meeting was not till the next morning, so we made a few stops to stretch/check out the scenery. We pulled onto the beach in Pacific City (you can drive on the beaches here!) to take a look at Chief Kiawanda Rock- basically a huge rock standing by its lonesome just off the beach. Pretty neat. Once in Tillamook, we ate dinner and checked into the hotel. I was spoiled with my own king bed and hot tub privileges for a night. All in the name of science. :)

The Meeting

The meeting was held at the local community college in a nice big conference room which could comfortably seat the 20 or so members that showed up. Tony and I were first to arrive, and I was introduced to Lisa Phipps, director of the TEP. She had tacked large sheets of paper all over the front of the room, some with writing and some to be written on later. I took a look at the proposed agenda and could understand why it was predicted to be a 3-hour meeting. There was a lot to cover.
The meeting began with introductions, and I got an idea for how many representatives of each partner group were present. Some had more than others but there was definitely a lot of diversity. They proceeded to reiterate some of the decisions discussed in the previous meeting to give everyone a refresher and then got to work on the agenda items. An example of one such item was the proposal to reorganize the management units. Before the plan had been sectioned by issue, but the proposed change was to break it down by land use; dividing the estuaries into upper, lower, and head of tide, and then address problems specific to those areas. This was the first exchange of ideas I saw, as there was a discussion on what distinction to use to make the land divisions- By salinity or by bacterial line? Several people stated their opinions and gave advice on specific terminology to use in the document. That was how the entire proceedings went on: a question or issue was presented, then they would brainstorm, Lisa would write, and so on. It was step by step decision making, and as we went down the board I began to see who weighed in on what issues, who was knowledgeable about each category. For example, the “forest people” may not give any input regarding burrowing shrimp on the mud flats. The atmosphere was friendly and professional; people gave honest feedback, freely voiced their concerns, and addressed misconceptions if they arose.


I learned a lot from this experience, not only on issues specific to Tillamook but about how these sorts of meetings operate in general. I learned how much the waterways there are influenced by agriculture, and that managing land owners is a very dynamic process. I learned that the TEP’s future goals focus on being more proactive than reactive, which will require more outreach and public education. They also want to identify data gaps where more research may be needed. I learned that making a plan like this has to be so all-encompassing because they are planning for the next decade, and this document will be referred to for grant funding throughout that timeframe. I even got to speak up during the meeting, when Oregon Department of Agriculture reps were discussing the role of “hobby farmers” and the expectation that they follow responsible land use practices even though they’re not held as accountable as large industry farmers. One woman brought up the difficulty in knowing just how many people own animals and making sure they are informed. I asked if there was an online resource available to those people, and suggested that they incorporate a place where hobby farmers could register themselves, submit a plan of action, and get their questions answered all on one site. My comments were very well-received and I was glad I had raised my hand (even if my bright red face begged to differ). There are still a few meetings left till the CCMP document can be written up, but it will eventually be submitted to the EPA for approval. I am thankful I got to participate in the meeting and get my first taste of resource management on a large scale (getting out of field work and driving a car again weren’t bad perks either).

Here are some photos of me enjoying the scenic 101.

On to week 4!

-Katie Gregory

Week 2: Good, Good, Good, ~Expectations~

Beach boys and girls

Week 2: Good, Good, Good, ~Expectations~
…As the Beach Boys classic goes (or something like that).

This past week was my first full week on the job; I already feel like I’m getting the hang of our early morning routine on field days, and that I’m a contributing member of the team. I’ve dug up my fair share of clams, even correctly identifying (some of) them. I got to use the handheld GPS to navigate us from waypoint to waypoint, which requires a very good handle on cardinal direction, and which I have yet to master. This week was also fun because our team consisted of three women (a fact that did not go unnoticed by a fisherman on the dock, who laughed at what he affectionately called our “sexy Gumby suits”). We ladies worked two 11-hour days in a row, allowing us to finish early on Wednesday. We celebrated later that night by going out for dinner and drinks at the local 7 Devils Brewery, where my co-worker graciously picked up my tab. I sipped on a delicious in-house hard cider and enjoyed the company of my ODFW team, live music, and the collection of canines brought along by our fellow patrons (a dog-friendly brewery, does it get any better?!).

Expectations Meeting-

As this post’s title would suggest, this week we held our Expectations meeting between my mentors, myself, and the program coordinators at Oregon Sea Grant. I really appreciated the program’s effort to work together with the scholars and our mentors to establish a game plan for the next 8 weeks, making sure our work is oriented towards reaching our goals. I have been enjoying my time in the field and lab, but a main part of what I wanted to get out of working for ODFW this summer was learning how a state agency operates, at all levels. I wanted to take part in public outreach and learn about the regulation/monitoring/policy aspects in addition to the science we’d be conducting. I brought this up during our conference call and I really felt my voice was heard. In the days following both Tony and Scott Groth, shellfish biologist and project leader for the Oregon pink shrimp fishery (and my co-mentor), presented me with opportunities to take part in outreach, including manning the ODFW touch tank at the state fair and conducting creel surveys of clammers off several docks in the region. This was in addition to the helpful document they had previously made listing my responsibilities and activities for the remainder of the summer. Their flexibility and willingness to prioritize my learning objectives is a clear reflection of why they were chosen as Summer Scholar mentors.

Could Use a Hand (or 2)-

I don’t know if I’d call myself accident prone, per say, but I think it can be fully established that I do not have the best luck. My track record this year includes my identity getting stolen, my new laptop’s battery dying- and learning that the manufacturer had recently stopped producing said batteries, unknowingly driving around with a gas leak for a couple months, and more than a handful of visits to urgent care. And that is where I found myself once again on Thursday evening, complaining of an irritating rash on the back of my hands that had popped up earlier in the week but was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. After consulting with my supervisors, we thought it best to go get it checked out. And, because of all the work I’d been doing in the water/mud and with animals, they informed me that this was likely a worker’s compensation issue and that it would be best to file a claim. So started my first (and hopefully last) encounter with worker’s comp paperwork, which seems to be quite the process. The urgent care facility was very nice, and newly renovated. I was seen by an older gentleman, and after a brief look at my hands we began a long brainstorming session to find out what could possibly be causing the bizarre red, bumpy rash isolated entirely to the back of my hands. My answers to his questions did not reveal a definite cause, nor did his answers to mine. His final advice was to act as a “Sherlock detective” and keep an eye out for things that could only be coming into contact with that part of my hands. He prescribed me a mild steroid cream to be applied twice a day and sent me on my way. It is now Sunday and they don’t seem to be improving much. :/

Mystery Rash

Bandon Pacific Seafood-

One cool thing I got to do this week was tour the unloading area of the Bandon Pacific Seafood wholesale plant, across the street from the Charleston ODFW office. These seamen hard at work pulling fish from their piles and operating heavy machinery were a greasy lot, but many of them greeted us or at least did not seem disturbed by our presence. We met up with Dean, a 20-yr employee of the Charleston ODFW office, who was dressed in foul-weather gear, wielding a large knife and standing over an icy bin of black cod (which is actually not a cod, but a sablefish). He was making precise cuts into both the belly and head of the fish, to identify the sex and remove the otoliths, respectively. Otoliths, literally meaning “earstones”, are the ear bones of a fish and are used to age the fish and determine growth rate. He was also taking length and weight measurements of the fish. He is clearly an expert at what he does, and was eager to explain each step to me. He even cut a weird sac-like parasite out a fish and popped it so I could see the black, congealed blood inside. It was gnarly (a seagull was later seen eating it- again, gnarly). The smell of rotting fish and being surrounded by death did not make the dock my favorite place, but I did learn a lot. One of the things I was most happy to hear was that they do their best to find an economic use each part of the fish/shellfish they catch. For example, shrimp are boiled and peeled before being packaged. The peeled exoskeletons are then saved and sold as fertilizer!

Otolith King

This week had its up and downs but I am very much loving Oregon and looking forward to the weeks to come. Hope everyone has an enjoyable, safe Fourth of July!


Katie Gregory

Week 1: Introductions – To Oregon, my co-workers, program-mates, job, and more!

The Coast

*Please click on photos throughout to view associated captions*

Week 1:

After a long day of exceptionally smooth travel (still thankful for that) I arrived in Corvallis, OR at the Oregon State University campus ready for orientation the next morning. On Monday we met up for a small, informal breakfast to finally meet the program coordinators face-to-face rather than via email, as well as the other Summer Scholars. The lax atmosphere continued throughout the day as we played (dare I say) fun ice breakers and listened to presentations on what to expect from our summers/ what Oregon Sea Grant is all about. We even went to lunch at a great little café for Mexican food before heading out to Newport to the Hatfield Marine Science Station (OSU’s marine campus). There, I got my first glimpse of Oregon coastline and met my mentor for the first time; Tony D’Andrea, project leader/supervisor for Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife’s Shellfish and Estuarine Habitat Assessment of Coastal Oregon (SEACOR) project through the Marine Resources Program. I got to spend the night there and hang out with my fellow scholars and other students staying in the housing on campus, which was a very fun way to relax after a day of information overload and recovering from jetlag.

Day 2 began with a riveting session of paperwork and reading of lengthy protocols to learn just what it means/takes to be part of ODFW. We took the forms mobile as we started the drive from Newport to my final destination of Charleston- I signed many a form to indicate my understanding of safety procedures and agency policies (the scenic ocean views from the pacific highway were a frequent and welcomed distraction throughout). I felt very official and excited to be an employee of a state agency that does so much. Once we got to Charleston, a town on Coos Bay where I would be living and working, I checked into my room at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (The University of Oregon equivalent of OSU’s Hatfield campus) and unpacked a little bit before meeting back up with Tony. We toured the lab we’d be using which is shared with researchers from the South Slough estuary, the garage where all our equipment is stored, the boat, and the ODFW office where I got to meet more members of the agency. Everyone was very nice and answered my barrage of questions (I feel like my first week was essentially me asking everyone a million questions). I learned that my position would be aiding in field work for the shellfish assessments of Coos Bay, which would help with informing fishery regulations for the area. I would also be an extra set of hands for whichever ODFW project needed me, and I expressed a desire to be part of their community outreach and education programs, as I have a growing interest in science communication.

Wednesday morning was a 5 AM start time for field work on the boat, using a sampling method called megacoring (more on that later, when I can use photos to accompany the description: a picture’s worth a thousand words, right?). It was a brisk day, with a LOT of wind. Common for these parts, but not what I’m used to calling “summer”. The water tends to stay in the 50’s so we donned dry suits paired with fleece onesies underneath, many base layers, extra socks, boots, and our ODFW hats (which I’m still stoked about) to stay warm. After a few hours in the field, we returned to land to rinse off the boat and sampling materials. I discovered there’d been a tear in my suit and I ended up soaked from the waist down- just my luck, but a good reintroduction to the joys of field work. Thursday (day two of 5 AM start time) was originally going to be like Wednesday, with more work from the boat and some new stuff (for me) surveying low tide habitat. However, mother nature had her own plan of very high wind speeds, so we opted to stay close to land and conduct the surveys at a nearby tidal flat site- Charleston Triangle.

Research Vessel used during megacoring


Methods: The sampling strategy used for these surveys is called the Rapid Assessment Method (RAM). Previous bathymetry data is used to map tidal levels across the study area, ensuring that samples were taken across all tidal elevations. A handheld GPS is programmed with randomly generated waypoints displayed both as a grid and as points spread intermittently between rows.

At each waypoint designated “grid” a 1 m2 quadrat is placed, and before any disturbance occurs, a photo is taken with the site location and waypoint number for identification purposes. Within the quadrat environmental data such as sediment temperature, anoxic layer depth, and sediment type are taken. Biological data including percent of algal or eelgrass cover on surface, shrimp borrow density, clam “show” density, and physical presence of clams living below the surface are taken. This is done by using a hand rake to disturb the top ~15 cm of sediment. Species observations are also made for a 2 m radius surrounding the quadrat, which can be used to dub the area a clam/shrimp bed, even in the absence of those organisms within the quadrat.

Raked quadrat

For the “random” waypoints the Detailed Assessment Method (DAM) is employed in addition to RAM. The supplementary data includes collecting above-ground eelgrass blades and sediment samples for total organic carbon and grain size analyses. The eelgrass samples were collected in a 0.25 m2 quadrat within the larger quadrat. The placement is determined by a random number generator. The same goes for sediment samples within the larger quadrat. These waypoints are also marked with a stake and attached buoy for future megacoring sampling.




By Thursday afternoon I was pretty much exhausted from traipsing in the mud (sorry for all the yawning, Tony) as we went over ODFW’s payroll system and I was given my employee computer login, with access to project files and agency documents.

5 AM Friday came all too soon, but as we had accomplished so much the day before, and Charleston Triangle is a fairly small site, we were able to finish the rest of the waypoints quickly, resulting in an early end to the day. J I used that time to take a sizeable nap, start this blog post, and spend some time in the nearby Marine Life Center (which I know I’ll be returning to since it’s free, interesting, and the volunteers are super nice!).

I also took time throughout the evenings/weekend to make friends with other interns living in my hallway and their friends from the South Slough Estuary Research Reserve. We lit off sparklers, took many a trip to Walmart, and hiked out to waterfalls at Golden and Silver Falls State Natural Area. The beauty of Oregon is absolutely awe-inspiring, and I am so glad I get to experience it.