Sea_Gil’s Flying Home

Well here we are folks. It’s my last week in Oregon. It’s so weird to think I will be on a flight back home to NY in a couple of days.

Last week was busy between some more data mining and preparing for the Summer Scholars Symposium (nice alliteration). I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous when giving my presentation. It’s funny how I’ve given a bunch of presentations throughout college but I still get a little scared. I’m pretty happy with the way mine went though and on a few of the evaluations people mentioned that I had good public speaking skills so that was nice! Everyone’s presentations were very informative and I think we all did a good job! It seems like everyone did a lot of interesting work this summer and I think all the scholars count their time here as a good experience. I know I do!

On Friday, I (along with Sara) gave my presentation at the EPA Summer Intern “gathering”. This one stressed me out too, even though I had just given the same presentation the day before. I think I was a bit scared because I had been working with these people all summer and I wanted to impress them with the project I’ve been working on. Though I do work at the EPA, I am mostly in my little office all the time and I don’t think people know exactly what I’ve been up to this summer. The EPA presentation went well and because I had given the presentation so many times at that point (especially with my practice run throughs), I felt more confident when speaking about my research. After the talks were done, Sara’s mentor came over to her and me and said that while we did a good job at the Symposium, he thought we improved over all on our presentations at the EPA. I would like to thank all the evaluations for that compliment. I read them over on Friday morning and tried to incorporate many of the suggestions that were written down by the audience from the previous day.

Friday was also Betty’s birthday! It was a lot of fun. We ended the night singing karaoke at Moby Dick’s of course! For the rest of the weekend, Betty, Diego, and I went on a little camping trip in the Willamette National Forest. Saturday evening was spent collecting wood and Diego was able to start up a nice fire which we used to roast some tofurkey hot dogs and marshmallows. On Sunday morning we explored the Terwilliger Hot Springs. The springs were pretty awesome but after sitting in them for some time I started feeling a bit woozy. I know you are not supposed to stay in a hot tub for too long so I imagine that it would be the same for the springs. After the hot springs, we decided to swim in a (much cooler) reservoir. It was a refreshing experience and there was even a waterfall nearby!

Terwilliger Hot Springs!

Right now I am starting to work on my portfolio because this week is kind of busy for me since I am going surfing from Tuesday-Thursday. I just don’t want to get eaten by a shark when I’m out there AHHHHHHHH! I got freaked out after Katie told me that they were in fact sharks around here. I just have to think that the chances of that happening are pretty slim. Other than that I need to work on some metadata stuff aka data about the data. I also need to compile all the spreadsheets/articles/documents that go along with the project that I have been doing so I can give it all to Katie for the future.

I’d like to end by thanking Sarah and Eric for making my summer in Oregon such a good experience! I had a great time out here and learned a lot on a subject I barely had any in depth knowledge about before. One thing definitive thing I’ve discovered is that bivalves are more complicated than they appear. For anyone reading this who is thinking about applying for the Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar Fellowship, I would highly recommend it.

While I am happy to be going home soon, I am going to miss the friends I’ve made out here but I’m sure we’ll stay in touch! Adios Oregon, it’s been great!

Sea_Gil’s Blog Pt.8

While the past week was spent adding a number of new species to the spawning period spreadsheet, a good chunk of my time was dedicated to working on my powerpoint for the symposium. My mentor is not going to be in this week, so I wanted to get a rough draft prepared for him to look over. I ended up giving a practice presentation for him and two other EPA colleagues on Thursday. After I went through the whole presentation, we then went back over each individual slide and discussed any changes to be made. There were quite a few suggestions, but I am glad for the constructive criticism because I would like for this presentation to be good.

On Wednesday, I headed up to Corvallis with Betty and Diego to see them (along with Becca and Chris) play at Bombs Away! Hats off to them for a good show!

Friday was the day  I finally got to go out into the field! On a HOVERCRAFT! It was totally awesome! I’d seen a hovercraft going around when I was in Turks & Caicos and it looked pretty cool. I never thought I would actually get to ride in one. I went out with another intern and an EPA worker to help them with collecting some cores in mud flats. Needless to say, I got a bit muddy. Also, I had my first experience with these contraptions called Mudders. They’re these types of “shoes” that are designed to keep you from sinking into the mud. It was weird walking around in them, but I was glad for them because the intern, Rachel, told me she had gotten stuck in the mud a few times on earlier trips when she didn’t have them on. She said she had to be dug out because she couldn’t lift her legs from the mud!

So that was my work week. My weekend was very fun. Betty, Diego, and I went to Zumba on Friday. A bunch of Hatfield interns then invited us to watch a movie called The Abyss. I confused it with some other movie about people getting stuck in a cave. This one was about divers getting stuck deep in the sea and meeting some interesting, new friends while down there

Betty and I went to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse on Saturday. I always see it in the distance when walking along the jetty, so I wanted to check it out. Also, I wanted to take some pictures for my grandma because she really likes lighthouses (just emailed her some photos!). We parked outside of the actual park and took a nice walk up there. We didn’t get to go inside because there was a long wait, but it was still nice to just see it.


Yaquina Head Lighthouse

For dinner, we got to go to BBQ in Siletz at the HMSC director’s house. There was a lot of great food, since it was a potluck. At this point, I’m mostly used to microwaved veggie burgers and tomato soup, so it was nice change. That night, we went out to Nana’s where there was a band playing. After Nana’s, we headed over to Moby Dick’s for some karaoke which is always fun!

This week will be filled with more slideshow preparation since the Symposium is on Thursday. Hopefully my presentation goes well!

Oh and I’d like to give an early birthday shout-out to Betty! Wooohooooo!

Sea_Gil’s Blog Pt.7

So, we Sea Granters have only have 2 and a half weeks left of the Summer Scholar Program. It’s crazy, I can’t believe we’re almost done here.

Well, this past week I got some new books to look through. One is called Distribution and Abundance of Fishes and Invertebrates in West Coast Estuaries and the other is titled Marine & Freshwater Products Handbook. I’ve already gone through the other books and I’m about to start on the products one. Hopefully, I can find some useful information from it, if not I’ll just have to return it to the library (I’ve been getting some good use out of my temporary library card at Guin Library).

After I finish that up, I’m going to start looking through articles that my colleague, Katie, has been gathering for me. I have a feeling that I will just find data about species that I have already listed in my spreadsheet, but maybe they will have some useful information that the books didn’t have.

I’ve also started working on my powerpoint. My mentor will not be around after next week because he’ll be going on vacation to Yellowstone (lucky!). I’d like to get him a rough draft before he leaves so we can discuss how I can best present what I’ve been doing this summer. So far, it’s about 7 complete slides and about 5 more that are still in an outline stage. There’s a lot of information I have to get across in a 10-12 minute presentation so it’s important that I manage my time effectively so I can relay as much of my story as I can. I think it is important to keep in mind that, though important, my work is only a small piece in a larger project studying how climate change will affect different environments across the globe.

But enough about work, I’ll get to the fun stuff now. On Friday, Betty, Deigo, and I went clamming. We got a pretty good amount and used shovels instead of the “clam guns” (I don’t really know what they’re actually called). I think the shovel approach works better for me because I found a lot more than I usually do with the guns. Betty made some clam pasta with our findings. I tried some and it was very good! 

On Saturday, Betty and I went blueberry picking at a place right outside of Corvallis. I thought I was going to turn into a blueberry like Violet from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory because I ate so many blueberries that day. They were so good! I ended up picking about 4 ¼ pounds and paid $5.50 for them, which I think was a pretty good deal. We then hung out in Corvallis for a little bit. I got two books from this cool store that sold them for about a half of the normal price. Betty brought some lavender from a store called Cat’s Meow and used some for a blueberry crisp. Yum yum!


Yesterday, I just relaxed and went for a walk on the jetty out towards the beach. The beach ended up being a bit too chilly for what I was wearing so I didn’t get to walk on the beach for as long as I had originally wanted to. Oh well. At least it was nice and sunny out!

Oh, and I’m going to try out a Zumba class at the Newport Rec Center later. Hopefully that’ll be a fun workout!

Sea_Gil’s Blog Pt.6

Another week of data mining and researching gone by. I finished up with the Reproduction and Development of Marine Invertebrates of the Northern Pacific Coast book. I also did some preliminary research on my question about the future pH differential between surface and deeper waters of the ocean. It’s looking like the differential won’t be too great by the year 2100, but I would like to find some definitive numbers. Hopefully I’ll get enough information this week so I can provide a more specific answer.

On Friday, I had a meeting with my mentor and we discussed the spreadsheet I had been working on. It can be concluded from the information captured that many of the bivalve species do spawn at some point during the summer which could make their offspring more vulnerable to the corrosive water from upwelling. We also discussed some other resources I could use to get more data on species that weren’t mentioned in the book I had been working on. I was given two new books: Oregon Estuarine Invertebrates and Intertidal Invertebrates of California. I imagine this week will be spent gleaning these books for new information. I will be receiving some PDFs on bivalve spawning , so I’ll look those over too. My mentor also mentioned that I should start preparing an outline for my presentation at the end of the summer symposium. It struck me how quickly this date was actually approaching. I will probably work on that this week as well and confer with him on how I should organize things.

This weekend was very enjoyable. Saturday, my roommate Betty and I attempted to go the beach because it was nice and sunny out. Little did we know that the beach would be super windy and after trying to lie out in the sun with sand being blown all around, we abandoned that plan. We ended up exploring the shops at Nye Beach and I found a really awesome octopus bag! For lunch, we ate at Paninis and I got a delicious portabella sandwich.

Some Sea Grant friends and I went to Alsea Falls yesterday. The falls were beautiful and I actually brought my camera with me this time so I was able to snap a few pictures. Lauren knew some spots where we could go swimming (I was determined to go swimming in some sort of body of water since I haven’t been able to do so yet). We scoped out some places and decided to settle down on a sport on the river at Clemens Park. The water was freezing but I still dunked my head under! After that, we headed over to Lauren’s house where we got a nice tour of her parents’ garden. The garden was absolutely wonderful and I got to taste some mint, raspberries and broccoli. Lauren’s parents invited us to stay for dinner which was very nice of them. There was some yummy food served and then we headed on our way back to Newport. All in all, I’d have to say it was a pretty great day.

Alsea Falls!

Sea_Gil’s Blog Pt.5

This past week was spent doing lots of data mining again. I’m learning more and more about reproduction and larval development for bivalves. It’s nice to gain more knowledge in this area since I only had a brief brush with concepts such as an animal being dioecious or monoecious in Biology 101 freshmen year. 

The one thing that was significantly different about this week was that I was actually able to input data into the PICES database! Certainly a very exciting step for me. The database now says “Data last updated by Margaret” which makes me feel pretty important (even if it only entails me changing certain things in the life history section of certain species I am reading about).

On Friday, we had the mid-summer check in and it was nice seeing some Sea Grant faces I hadn’t seen since I first came to Oregon. It was interesting hearing about everyone’s various projects and the progress they were making. We had some yummy pizza from American Dream Pizza for lunch and then set out to set up the Oregon Sea Grant booth at da Vinci days. Set up proved to be a bit more difficult than expected but then Eric came to the rescue and helped to complete the large display for all the Sea Grant information (check out the Oregon Sea Grant Flickr gallery for some photos).

Saturday was spent volunteering and checking out the various booths at da Vinci days. I have to confess that the food stands were my favorite part (I had some salmon ceasar salad, delicious curly fries, and an elephant ear). Unfortunately, I missed the kinetic sculpture races and I imagine that would have been another favorite of mine. 

Kinetic Sculpture?

I was interested in a question that struck me when I was giving my presentation which was “Why is the deeper water that comes up during upwelling considered more corrosive?”. I asked my mentor and he explained that decomposing material that falls to the deeper waters release CO2 and that there is no new oxygen production happening down there, only respiration. These two factors are the main reason why the water is more acidic down there.

But then something else struck me: Will there continue to be a significant differential between the pH of surface water and deeper water as surface water begins to take in the accumulating atmospheric CO2? If the pHs get closer to one another as time goes by, upwelling might not even be an issue in the future because ocean water will just be generally more acidic no matter where it comes from.

My mentor thought this was a good question so now I am going to be doing some literature research to see if I can gather information on the expected pH changes to ocean water in the future so that I can compare it to the pH of deeper ocean water right now. I’m interested to see what I will find from this search.

Come see us at DaVinci Days!

Setting up for DaVinci Days

Setting up for DaVinci Days

The Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars are on campus this weekend for their mid-summer check-in, a tour of OSU’s Hinsdale Wave Research Center, and to help staff the Sea Grant booth at DaVinci Days, Corvallis’ annual festival of the arts and sciences.

If you’re in Corvallis this weekend, you can find us in the “Discover OSU” area on the lower campus just off 14th Street. Drop by for information, activities, games – and giveaways!

See more photos of today’s activities on the Oregon Sea Grant Flickr gallery.

Sea_Gil’s Blog Pt.4

Another week gone by and now it’s almost time for the midsummer check-in! Last week, I finished up the bivalve attribute spreadsheet. It was very hard work and a lot of reading, but it feels good to complete something. My mentor will be checking it over to see what kind of information we gathered. I hope captured all that data correctly! I think once he has made sure all the information is good, it will be put into the PCEIS database. I’m not sure if I will actually be inputting the data in the database but I guess I’ll find out soon.

I also started a new spreadsheet at the end of last week. This one focuses on the spawning period of bivalves. Right now I am using one book called Reproduction and Development of Marine Invertebrates of the Northern Pacific Coast to get as much information about the spawning seasons of certain species. The book is a bit confusing though. It mentions species on the Pacific coast but then talks about spawning seasons of the species observed in the Atlantic coast. It is important to get information specific to the Pacific coast because even though they are the same species, there might be differences in the spawning seasons based on geographic location. Sometimes it talks about induced spawning seasons in the lab which is not very helpful because I need information about species in their natural habitats. I’m trying to figure out exactly how to capture this data and I predict I will need to speak with my mentor a lot about the problems I am encountering.

But I should address why we are collecting information about spawning seasons. On the Pacific coast there is a phenomenon called upwelling that usually occurs during the summer months. I had never heard of this being from the east coast, but my mentor told me that it is very relevant on the west coast. Upwelling occurs when the wind pushes the surface water out to sea and water from the deeper part of the ocean comes up to the coast (apparently that’s a contributing factor as to why the water is so cold here during the summer). This deeper water is thought to be more corrosive and can have negative effects on the bivalve larvae and juveniles, especially if their spawning season is during the summer.

So for this week, I will be “data mining” with the reproduction and development book. My mentor also mentioned that I would probably be helping with some more Powerpoint visuals for the database and eventual website for PCEIS.

This past weekend was fun. I went crabbing with some friends. I hadn’t been crabbing in probably ten years so it was great experiencing it again. Unfortunately we didn’t get to keep any of the crabs we caught because most of them were Dungeness females or too small. We did catch some red rock but not enough to feed ourselves, which was the plan. They were just thrown back into the ocean. One day we’ll get enough so we can have a crab dinner!

Yesterday, some Sea Grant friends and I went sandboarding. It was totally awesome! I was a bit scared at first because I had been snowboarding before and I hadn’t been very good at it. Also the dunes we boarded on were a bit intimidating but once I got the hang of it, it was great! The one downside was the trek back up the dune after you went down, but I would still highly recommend sandboarding!


Sea_Gil’s Blog Pt.3

Wow! I’ve already completed my third week of work here at the EPA. This past week was full of “data mining” information on a number of different bivalves. It can get a little confusing with some of the family names (example: Cardiidae and Cardilidae, Nuculanidae and Nuculidae). I have to make sure I’m looking at the right family when I get to the ones with the similar names like that. After a while of working in Excel, I also have to make sure that I am filling information out in the right columns and rows. Thankfully, one of my colleagues taught me a few little tricks which makes it much easier to track what column and row I’m in.

Luckily for me, there were some other events which broke up all the spreadsheet work I was doing. My mentor and a few other colleagues had an important meeting last Tuesday with a professor from OSU who knows a lot about bivalves. This professor gave us some good suggestions. He said that we should try to run some experiments to determine the dissolution rates of shells with aragonite and shells with calcite. Experiments like these would get us more information on whether or not changing acidity will actually causes shells to dissolve. As of right now, my impression is that very little scientific work has been done in this area, so I think it would be good to find out about those rates. My mentor is looking to work with people over at the  Narragansett EPA station (on my side of the country!)  to get the experiments started. Unfortunately these experiments probably won’t begin until after I leave, but I’m sure my mentor will relay the findings to me.

My mentor also let me listen in on a conference call he had with people at the EPA offices in DC. They were discussing “tasks” that will be put forward in a draft document addressing climate change.  My mentor is in charge of the vulnerability working group so I think they will be looking at how different ecosystems and species will be negatively affected by climate change. This phone meeting made me realize how hard it is to organize and coordinate various tasks and projects, especially within a large agency like the EPA. There’s obviously a great deal of planning involved in things like this, but the conference call really drove that fact home for me.

This upcoming week I will be doing some more data mining. I’m excited though because my mentor was talking about letting me go out in the field at some point within the next couple of weeks!

I had a really great weekend too! Some Sea Grant friends invited me to come along with them to Portland for a blues festival, which was totally cool. It was fun exploring Portland because I only had a brief brush with the city when I landed in PDX last month. Yesterday, some friends and I collected a bunch of mussels and we steamed them. I discovered that I’m not really into mussels, but I’m glad I tried some.

Oh, and Happy Belated 4th of July!

Sea_Gil’s Blog Pt.2

Hi all! It’s Margaretmary again. During my second week working for the EPA, I had the chance to attend some meetings and that made me feel pretty professional, as I have never before had a job that required meetings. These meetings were very important because they were an opportunity for me to discuss which bivalve shell characteristics were the ones we should try to capture for the database in terms of ocean acidification.  But this meant I had to do my homework so to speak. I had to read over numerous scientific articles and large books in order to familiarize myself with bivalve shell terminology. Some words and phrases I had never even heard of before such as periostracum and complex crossed lamellar layer. Thanks to my reading I definitely feel more confident in my knowledge of shell structure. Aside from reading, I began filling out information in the data sheet that my mentors and I set up. I am doing this for each family of bivalve found in the Pacific Northwest and the information includes things like what type of calcium carbonate shell a family has.

One of the major challenges of this project is gathering all the information needed for the data sheet. As of right now I am mainly using two sources to get most of the data, but there are still many characteristics that are not mentioned in either one that are needed for the database. I will probably have to scour the internet and library for additional sources so that I can fill out as much of the data as possible.

Another challenge I encountered this past week was the epic saga of book scanning. One of my coworkers got a book from the library for me to use and when my mentor saw it he decided it would be helpful to have an electronic copy of it. The electronic copy would make things much easier on me because I can just search the document for keywords. Now I had never scanned a book before so I was taught how to by a person on the EPA staff. It seemed pretty easy and I was under the impression that I would scan the pages as jpegs and then be able to convert those images into a pdf file. I was very wrong and found this out a little late. After scanning about seventy pages I was told that I had to save the scans as pdfs and that I would have to go back and rescan all the pages I had already done. So finishing that scanning process will be one of the things I will be doing this week. I imagine I will also be filling out more of the data sheet as well.

But enough of that scanning debacle. I really enjoyed my weekend. My Sea Grant friends and I went to Drift Creek Falls on Saturday. After hiking for about a mile and a half, we crossed a (kind of scary) suspension bridge and climbed some rocks to get very close to a waterfall! This was the first waterfall I have ever seen and it was totally awesome. To finish out the weekend, my roommate and I went clamming (I purchased by clamming license, so I’m trying to get some good use out of it). We dug up around 10 clams in total and she suggested we try to make a chowder. I have to give mad props to Betty for her great Novice Clammer Louisiana Clam Chowder™. Yum yum!

Drift Creek Waterfall!

Sea_Gil’s Blog

Hello! My name is Margaretmary Gilroy and this blog will be used to document my experience as an Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar.

Before coming out here, I had a vague idea of what I would be during for the summer. I knew that I would be gathering information concerning the vulnerability of certain coastal species to climate change. This information would then be put into an extensive database (PICES) started by the EPA.

Now that I’ve spent a week actually working at the EPA station in Newport, I have a better understanding of what I will be doing during these upcoming weeks. I will be looking at how various species with calcium carbonate shells may respond to the problem of ocean acidification based on things such as shell composition and larval stages. I am excited to be a part of the project because this type of research is a fairly new undertaking and not much is known about how certain marine species will respond to ocean acidification, so it will be interesting to see what we discover through the information we are trying to capture for the database.

At work this past week, I spent most of my time reading over relevant literature in order to learn more about ocean acidification and bivalves, since I have not had much in-depth experience with either subject. I have a feeling when the summer is over, I will have become fairly versed in shellfish characteristics and the problems that arise from the ocean taking in more and more of the carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere. This upcoming week, I will be trained on how to input the information I gather into Excel spreadsheets so that it can be easily translated over into the database. I’m looking forward to doing some meaningful work for the EPA over the next couple months.