Good Times All Around

I think I’m falling in love… with Oregon that is. With a four-day weekend last week thanks to the Fourth of July holiday, myself along with some fellow interns were able to get out and see more of what Oregon has to offer.

But before we began our adventures, there was work to be done.  The project I am working on that uses clear buckets to study soil oxidation requires a good low tide so that the sample site is clear of water. This allows us to easily photograph the sediment layer without disturbing the surrounding area. To answer a question from my last post, the reason we removed and weighed the macroalgae was to see if there is any correlation between the depth of the oxidized soil and the amount of algae on top and to see how much algae is covering different parts of the estuary. The tides this past week weren’t low enough, so instead of being out in the field, I was helping out with another lab’s research project that had finished up earlier in the week. I helped to count Zostera japonica plants which are a type of sea grass.  The experiment was studying growth rates of the plants under varying conditions. It was a pretty quiet week at the EPA, but this week promises to be much busier with four days of field work.


On the Fourth of July, a group of us went to Olalla Lake where we spent the day swimming and jumping off of rope swings. We then made our way back to Newport for an all American cookout complete with a little slice of Wisconsin, grilled bratwursts. When we finished our feast, we watched the fireworks that were launched from Yaquina Bay, right next to the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

After the holiday, some of us went to Devil’s Punchbowl where, for the first time in my life, I saw a whale, which just so happens to be my favorite animal. It was pretty far away from us but nevertheless it was still amazing to see one in the wild.  We stopped at the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay to see if we were able to spot anymore but we had no such luck, however we did get to drive along a beautiful stretch of the coast which made up for it.


The next day we went to Corvallis where we spent the afternoon floating down the Willamette River. After driving to what seemed like every store in the city, we finally found tubes and began to drift down the river only to realize we had forgotten our car keys back at the start. Luckily some fellow floaters offered us a ride to the starting point, and we were able to laugh it off. We certainly learned our lesson!

Then on Sunday, which was my birthday, we went to the beach to celebrate. Nothing says “Happy Birthday” quite like a quick dip in the 50 degree Pacific Ocean! It sure was a weekend I will never forget. Oregon truly is a beautiful place to live!  This week I will be sampling in Yaquina Bay and traveling to Nestucca Marsh, Netarts Marsh, and the Bandon Marsh for four long days of field work, and I can’t wait!

Hello, Oregon!

Hello everybody, my name is James Kralj and I am so glad to be an Oregon Sea Grant summer scholar this year! I am a junior at the University of Wisconsin – Madison where I am majoring in microbiology. I am also an undergraduate researcher in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences where I help create and use computer models to study the ecology of Lake Michigan.  For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be an oceanographer and I cannot wait to start learning about marine science this summer!


As part of my internship, I will be working with the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the Pacific Coastal Ecology Branch at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon studying soil oxidation rates in salt marshes along the Oregon coast.  I will be doing a lot of fieldwork this summer and I cannot wait to get started but before the fun begins, the EPA requires quite a bit of training.

This past week I have been working my way through the EPA’s health and safety training where I learned everything from how to properly hold a ladder to the correct usage of air filtration masks. Exciting, I know! But now that I have finished with that, I can start working in the field. Next week I will be going to two marshes with EPA researchers to set up our experiments.

In addition to getting started at the EPA, I have been having a great time so far in Newport. I am staying in the dorms at the Hatfield Marine Science Center and have met a ton of awesome people from all over the country. It has been great to meet so many people, each from such different backgrounds.

Also, everything here is so beautiful! We have been down to the beach many times already and each time I see the water I can’t get over how great it is to be living on the coast. Even if the weather isn’t perfect, it is still amazing to see the mountains and the waves through the fog and rain. Plus, I’d take a cool Pacific breeze over the hot and humid Wisconsin summers any day!


I have already done a lot of great things in Newport. A group of students from Hatfield and I have gone to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and were given a behind the scenes tour which was really great to see. I have also had some pretty amazing seafood like clam chowder, fish and chips, and clam strips. I love to cook and can’t wait to try my hand at cooking some local seafood.

Although it has been just a week, I have already been having such a great time. I cannot wait to start my fieldwork next week and I am really excited to learn all about the coastal salt marshes of Oregon. And of course, I can’t wait to share all of my experiences with you!