Week 4: Self-Directed Accomplishment

This week I was supposed to be on a trip with my lab in Willapa Bay, Washington, doing field work. My foot is not healed enough that I was comfortable to go, so I had to sit this one out. I was able to go to the doctor and get an x-ray and my pinky toe is definitely fractured. This means another month of healing, which is basically my whole summer. The silver lining of the situation is that my injury lined up nicely with my move to a new house, allowing me to take it easy while still getting things done, like unpacking and getting settled. My injury means that I had to miss out on the fun and the other people in the lab have to do a lot more work to do, but we’re trying to make the best of it. I should be able to go on the next one though, which leaves this upcoming Friday!

Although I can’t go in the field, I have still been useful doing computer and lab work, which I had a lot of this week. My mentor wanted to give me something hands-on to do, so instead of processing some samples in the field like they normally would do, they brought them back in Ziploc bags so I could process them in the lab. These samples were from the mud and eelgrass areas near some bags of oyster shells that were put out a couple months ago, when Dungeness crabs were recruiting (metamorphosing from larvae into juveniles). The oyster shells create three-dimensional habitat at low tide, attracting crabs seeking shelter and providing suitable habitat for . We periodically sample the bags and some of the sediment underneath, as well as areas nearby with no bags, to look at the number and size of any crabs we find, which are mainly Dungeness (Metacarcinus magister) and shore crabs (Hemigrapsus spp.). This data helps my mentor look at the recruitment and growth of juvenile Dungeness, as well as their preferred habitats. In the lab, I sorted bags of eelgrass, measuring crabs I found and weighing the eelgrass both wet and after drying in an oven.

Because everyone was gone this week, I was responsible for my own success in getting things done, but I think I did a very good job. It helps that I am so used to being in school, where you set your own schedule. I’ve learned a lot of time management, and it’s good to know that this helps in the real world too!

I’m not sure what this next week has in store for me, but I’m definitely looking forward to going to Washington on Friday!

Third Week’s The Charm!

Hello again!

With the holiday weekend over I must say I’m exhausted. I’m not sure where the week went! This past week at the ODFW was all about starting up our annual red rock crab surveys. Monday, Jim and I set eight crab pots off the docks of the small boat basin of Coos Bay. We filled them with leftover fish fillets thrown away by fishermen and boy, did they smell gnarly! We let them soak overnight and have been checking them daily in the mornings.

Past surveys have shown that basin is comprised of mainly Dungeness and red rock crabs. We have been measuring the carapace length and taking weights of whole (no appendages missing) Dungeness crabs. For red rock crabs we have quite the laundry list of tasks to perform and data to collect. Red rock crabs are weighed, carapace length is measured, and we check and account for missing appendages and determine the sex of the crab. We then tag the crab with a t-bar tag that includes an individual identification number that we can use for mark-recapture studies. We also clip the eighth carapace spine on the right-hand side to help compensate for tag loss. If a crab is a recapture we note that as well. Flyers are posted around the boat basin that encourages people to call in recreational recaptured red rock crabs with incentive of a prize. This is done to monitor removal of red rock crabs from the small boat basin. We hope to use this annual project to predict red rock population size and variability over years, as well as to monitor and analyze red rock crab recruitment.

My mentor's sense of humor always keeps me on my toes!

My mentor’s sense of humor always keeps me on my toes!

And let me tell you, if you have never handled a crab you are in for a surprise. Watching my mentor work up crabs made it all seem very easy and effortless, but in reality there is an art to avoiding being pinched. Dungeness crabs will make your extremities sting for a short while, but get your hand caught in the grips of red rock chelae and you are in for a painful crush. However, I am slowly trying to master the art.

This week we also had the day off for the Fourth of July. OIMB held a lovely picnic overlooking the ocean on Cape Arago. The food was amazing: grilled oysters, BBQ tuna, hotdogs, and endless desserts. A few friends and I headed over to South Cove after lunch where we were lucky enough to spy a grey whale swimming fairly close to shore. We also found a washed up juvenile salmon shark with quite the chunk taken out of his left side. In the evening, we hiked down to Pirate’s Cove where we sat up on the rock faces that overlooked Bastendorf Beach and watched the locals set off some impressive fireworks.

Hiking up and down to get to Pirate's Cove: no easy feat!

Hiking up and down to get to Pirate’s Cove: no easy feat!

In addition to the fun of field work and number crunching, I like to try something new each week. This week my friend, Jaron, taught me how to long board. My balance was great but my coordination was what onlookers could call, well, “lacking”. But after a couple hours I was zooming around without falling, a success in my books! It was so much fun and I am definitely going to continue practicing.

Each week here brings so much excitement! Can’t wait to see what this week has in store!

Long boarding for the first time

Long boarding for the first time

Red, White, and Bandon!

Greetings readers!

I hope everyone’s 4th of July weekend was as amazing as mine!  As I said before, I have been a California girl my entire life and as such have been somewhat hesitant about opening my heart and mind to a different state.  However, after spending the holiday weekend exploring Corvallis, Seaside, and Cannon Beach I have replaced my skepticism towards the Oregon coast with what I can only assume will progress into a budding romance.  I started off my four-day weekend by visiting some friends in the quirky college town of Corvallis where I discovered some amazing bakeries, got the chance to stroll through the bustling farmer’s market, and went on a short but beautiful hike up to Bald Hill.

photo 4

Later we set off on a short road trip to Seaside to enjoy some 4th of July festivities and well deserved beach time.  The second I set foot in downtown Seaside I immediately realized that I wasn’t in Bandon anymore…  Whereas Bandon (or as its residents affectionately refer to it as, “Bandon by the Sea”) is a small fairly quiet beach town whose citizens pride themselves on their charming old downtown and specialty stores, Seaside (whose motto is “More than just a day at beach”)  is roughly twice the size of Bandon and definitely has more mainstream tourist attractions.  Later we traveled down the coast a bit to Cannon beach and spent the day exploring local art galleries, all of which drew their subject matter from the surrounding coastal environment.


So far this project has been very different from ones that I’ve previously taken part in.  Up until this moment, most of the work I’ve done has been on a fairly small scale, but now gone are the days of sitting at a lab bench and observing organisms under a dissecting scope!  I have been tasked with determining what the “brand” is of South Coast Oregon.  With four towns, roughly 12, 803 people, and thousands of miles of land and coast you can imagine this is no easy task.  I have also discovered that there is no easy answer of how to promote and spread coastal tourism.  My trip to the North coast this past weekend exemplified that, and taught me that the while the more traditional modes of attracting tourists (such as bright neon signs, gift shops, arcades, etc.), may be lucrative, they are not necessarily what’s best for an individual community, let alone something its residents would be fine with.  I saw this in the charismatic town of Seaside Oregon; a town that most likely attracts passersby because of its beautiful beaches and charming houses, but causes them to stay and return with the help of new aesthetically pleasing apartments and hotels right on the beach, an arcade full of games and rides, and numerous shops where you can purchase apparel and food to remind you of your stay.

While I do not claim to be an expert on Oregon’s coastal towns, anyone could see that Seaside is virtually the polar opposite of Bandon (not to mention double the size!)  I have come to the conclusion that a lot of it basically comes down to personal preference.  And using my experience thus far as an indicator, I believe that it is near impossible to brand the entire South Coast simply because each town has something special to promote (ie. Old Downtown Bandon, art galleries in Cannon Beach, arcades and souvenir shops in Seaside).  While this can be seen as a major pain (especially since I have been asked to in fact, brand the south coast) it also reminds me that the beauty in it is that each town is in fact different, so theoretically there is a coastal town in Oregon for each and every person!
photo 3

While Oregon’s coastal towns may be different, there is one thing that they all have in common: the beauty of their natural resources.  Bandon, Brookings, Gold Beach, and Port Orford all provide access to the coastal activities such as SCUBA, fishing, and kayaking, lush forests where you can camp, hike, and bike, and freshwater where you can swim, fish, windsurf, or just boat around.  In my remaining time with the WRCA I hope to help each town capitalize on their breath-taking environments to not only help stimulate their economies, but to educate the residents and tourists on conservation issues that are right in their back yard.  This is a crucial step, one which is often overlooked, because the fate of these natural resources will directly affect many local businesses such as fishing and farming.


This past week I was fortunate enough to sit in on the second meeting of WRCA’s steering committee and meet a variety of people working with organizations such as the Freshwater Trust and the Port Orford Ocean Resource Team, as they discussed their individual projects as well as  organizations that WRCA has funded or will fund in the future.  It was amazing to learn how many organizations WRCA has helped and about all the amazing projects they plan to fund in the future (such as a sustainable greenhouse where teens can volunteer and learn about local plant species).  Next week I’ll be taking a field trip down to visit Brookings, Port Orford, and Gold Beach to meet with community leaders to discuss the work I have done on mapping out what each town’s assets are.  I think this will be an awesome chance to get to know these towns a bit better as well as start a conversation about how each town wants to work towards creating more sustainable tourism!

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Week 3: Happy Fourth of July

This week of my internship turned out to be quite short. Because of an unfortunate accident over the previous weekend, my foot might be broken, (a week later, it is feeling much better and I can almost walk normally but I am still not able to do field work), so I missed Monday to go to the doctor and rest up. The Fourth of July and the following EPA furlough day gave me a four-day weekend. I guess it was great timing, because I was able to rest up plenty and relax but still have fun. My friends hosted a BBQ at their house, and we all biked down to the Willamette River in Corvallis where there was a fireworks show, as well as hundreds of people lighting off their own in the street. The Fourth is one of my favorite holidays, and although I was not in tip-top shape, it was still a wonderful time.
Before I hurt my foot, I was able to go tidepooling in Boiler Bay, just north of Newport. I spent three hours there (and consequently got a little sunburned, it was a beautiful day), and had a great time taking pictures, touching things, and trying to catch fish. The Oregon Coast has an amazing diversity of marine life, and I’m so glad I get to experience it!


To respond to a question from my last post, “testing” the GoPro cameras involved taking pictures and videos, trying to figure out the battery life, size of the SD card, and the size of the field of view at various heights off the ground. I put testing in quotes because it felt more like playing with the cameras. We came up with a design for the mount of the camera and built and deployed it last week to get some test video. It worked surprisingly well the first time, and I learned how to use a drill press. We just bought materials for the rest of the camera mounts, and will be building them soon.
In the meantime, I am continuing my video analysis from previous years so we will have historic data to compare to. I am also sorting through samples of seagrass, measuring any crabs I find and weighing the plant matter, as part of another ongoing project looking at the crabs that live in Yaquina Bay. We are trying to determine where they are most abundant (in the native seagrass, the invasive seagrass, or bare mud), and if the ages of the crabs is different between them.
Hopefully my foot will be better soon so I can get back to field work!

Off to a Great Start!

My first full week in Bandon began with a surprise visit from my beloved school’s mascot!  After setting eyes on this gorgeous gastropod, I knew it was going to be a good week…


After a full week in the office I think I’m starting to get a better handle on what it is I will be helping Wild Rivers Coast Alliance with in the next ten weeks.  For the past week and a half my main priority has been to create a master database that details what activities, lodging, restaurants, shops, and places to visit, are available to tourists in each of the four cities that WRCA works with (Bandon, Brookings, Gold Beach, and Port Orford.)  Thus far what I have learned from my research is that while each city advertises many places to stay and eat, most of the four towns are seriously lacking when it comes down to detailing what there is to do (i.e. such as whale watching, hiking, and kayaking).  In the end, all the information I have been collecting will eventually be input into Travel Oregon’s website.  To me this is particularly exciting because I want to reinforce the knowledge out there that one of the main reasons people should visit Oregon is to take advantage of the astounding environment!  My hope is that by strengthening the information that’s out there about activities to do in nature, each city will be able to not only increase their sustainable ecotourism, but educate locals and tourists alike about each particular habitat, species, and conservation issue relevant to the coast.

In the coming week I believe I will be meeting with some city officials from the representative four cities to fine tune the information I have collected, as well as determine what the best way is to implement any desired changes.  I also plan on continuing my research on what South Coast Oregon’s presence is in facebook, twitter, and smartphone applications; because we live in a society that is so driven by technology and instant access to information I believe this is a great chance to captivate and educate!


This past weekend we had, without doubt, the best weather since I’ve been here!  So with warm weather, sunny skies, and some visiting friends I set out again to explore Oregon’s charismatic South Coast.  Since my position as a coastal tourism intern requires me to research what the towns of Bandon, Brookings, Port Orford, and Gold Beach have to offer (such as various activities, restaurants, etc.) I have decided that I should probably experience them myself; after all, why should I expect other people to be interested in all these places if I myself haven’t even been to them?

My day began at the Bandon Baking Company and Deli, which had cinnamon rolls that looked so appetizing I think I actually started to drool… The Baking Company is a cute place that’s the perfect stop for some morning coffee and a delicious homemade pastry.  After breakfast my friend and I traveled a short distance down the 101 to the West Coast Game Safari Park, an awesome place for people of all ages to not only have close encounters with exotic animals that they would otherwise probably only see in pictures, but to learn about them as well.  We spent the afternoon petting and learning about animals such as the lynx and white tiger, and wishing that we had our own pet Wallaby.


After we had our fill of cute furry animals and loud annoying peacocks, we headed back to Bandon for some smoothies from the Bandon Cofe Cafe which has quite an impressive menu including sandwiches, a variety of coffee drinks, and homemade pie (not to mention free WiFi!).  While it’s fun exploring, on a hot summer day there really isn’t anything better than relaxing on the beach and exploring the intertidal.  We weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the lovely weather, and saw both locals and visitors surfing, beach-combing, tide-pooling, and birdwatching. We ended our tough day of exploring with some delicious seafood at Tony’s Crab Shack!  This is an awesome place to sit outside, enjoy the beautiful weather and view, and enjoy some fresh seafood.


This week will be a short one since the 4th of July in on Thursday.  While I will not be spending it in Bandon, my weekend will still be spent exploring Oregon’s coastline, but this time I’ll be in Seaside.  Stay tuned for more updates on my adventures and progress with Wild Rivers Coast Alliance!

Week 2: First Day in the Field!

My work this week has been defined by many miscellaneous tasks I have done for various members of my mentor’s lab, almost none of which are related to my project, but I had a lot of fun with them. I have done analysis of videos taken in an estuary in Washington, measured tiny mud shrimp recruits (juveniles) after sorting through mud to find them, and measured, sexed, and examined adult mud shrimp to look for parasites and infection. I also “tested” the GoPro cameras we will be deploying in July to record the fish and crabs found in the invasive species of eelgrass.

A picture of the video I’m analyzing. You can see a full-sized Dungeness crab.

Mud samples on a tray that I sorted through looking for small mud shrimp recruits (juveniles)

Today was the first day I went out in the field to do sampling, on the mudflats near Hatfield Marine Science Center. Thank goodness it was a beautiful day today, so we didn’t have to wear heavy rain gear. We got very muddy, and I wish I had pictures but I don’t have a camera I wouldn’t mind getting dirty. We were looking for mud shrimp to measure and look for parasites. We used what is called a bucket core, which looks like a giant stainless steel bucket without a bottom and is about three feet tall. We pushed it all the way down into the mud, and shoveled the mud out into sieves, sorting through them and pulling out the shrimp as we found them. It was hard work, but the most fun I’ve had so far, and a great excuse to get outside and play in the mud!

Overall, it was a great week. I also bought a new camera, so hopefully I’ll have some higher quality pictures from now on. Next week I’m looking forward to building the mounts for our cameras and testing them in the field, and the Fourth of July, of course!

Week 1: Getting Oriented


My name is Sarah Heidmann, and I am one of the Summer Scholars this year for Oregon Sea Grant. I attend Oregon State University, and will be graduating in June 2014. I’m majoring in biology with the marine option, and minoring in statistics. I am originally from California, but am loving my experiences so far in Corvallis and Newport studying marine biology. This past spring term at OSU I lived in Newport taking an intensive marine biology course, and am excited to put all my new knowledge to the test.

Although I am working in Newport, I am living in Corvallis. Since OSU’s main campus is there, it was easier for me to live in the house I will have throughout the next year, in addition to being able to be with my friends who are here this summer. It’s about an hour driving distance, and I’ve been riding in a vanpool that allows me to sleep both ways, but I still have to get up pretty early.

Part of the beautiful bike ride I have every morning and afternoon in Corvallis on my way to and from the vanpool pickup location

This summer I am working in Newport with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS) studying fish and invertebrate use of coastal estuarine habitats. We are focusing on the habitat provided by a non-native species of seagrass, Zostera japonica, using GoPro cameras to record video in different areas and analyzing the numbers of fish and crabs that appear in the field of view. I’ll be in the field a lot this summer, getting very muddy.

The outside of the EPA building, where I work

So far I’ve been mostly practicing analysis of video from past years, trying to find some ways of improving the sampling technique. Although I’ve had some previous research experience, I still have so much to learn! I have been getting some training in Microsoft Access databases as well as statistics using R, which has a very steep learning curve when you have never programmed before. It seems like I’ll gain a some skill sets this summer that will be very useful farther down the road in my career.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my adventures! I am greatly looking forward to the rest of the summer.

Bandon or Bust!

Hello readers!

My name is Catherine Courtier and I have recently graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz with a B.S. in Marine Biology. During my time as an undergraduate I was not only fortunate enough to work in the labs of some truly inspiring professors, but  got the chance to take part in field study classes that enabled me to get a taste of what exactly it was that I was spending my undergraduate career working towards. Now I am one of six lucky Summer Scholars chosen by Oregon Sea Grant to work with Wild Rivers Coast Alliance. My main focus has always been on marine organisms, (specifically invertebrates) however I have recently become interested in the issues that surround coastal conservation, something I hope to learn more about through WRCA.

I was born and raised in Southern California, so you could definitely classify me as a sun, sand, and sandals type of girl. So naturally when I found out that the town of Bandon Oregon (where I will be spending the next ten weeks of my life) typically reaches a summer high of 68° I was a bit concerned. However, when I arrived in this cozy coastal town my worries seemed to disappear as I caught glimpses of the landscape on my way down the 101.


My first stop in Bandon was at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, and home of the Wild Rivers Coast Alliance, where I had lunch with my mentors Marie Simonds and Jim Seeley while overlooking the Bandon Reserve Course. Aside from its spectacular beauty, this course is of particular interest because all its proceeds go to funding Wild Rivers Coast Alliance.


Now that I am all settled in, I’ve had some time to begin exploring Oregon’s South Coast. Despite the questionable weekend weather and encroaching storm, I ventured out to the beach and was rewarded with mild temperatures and amazing tide pooling! In addition to the vibrant anemones and adorable sea stars, I caught a glimpse of some sunning sea lions and quite a bit of what I believe to be an orange sea sponge washed up on the beach.



Sadly the storm eventually caught up with me, so my plans to explore the various hiking and biking trails Bandon has to offer will have to wait till next weekend! While I’m not by any means an expert cyclist, I hope to improve my riding over the course of this summer so I can help with the final stages of a new coastal scenic bike pathway.  Tomorrow marks week two of this amazing experience and I can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for me!

Coos Bay: My New Frontier

Hello, all!

Thanks for joining me on my adventures in the Pacific Northwest this summer! Allow me to introduce myself, I’m Sam Thiede. I’m an undergraduate student at Purdue University majoring in Fisheries and Aquatic Science and minoring in Wildlife Science. I’m a senior and will be graduating May 2014 and plan on pursuing my masters and Ph.D. in either fisheries sciences or aquatic resource management. Currently, I am working at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) as a technical research assistant to Scott Groth through the Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholars program, but you will all hear much more about that topic throughout the summer.

I’m a Midwesterner, specifically from Indiana. Before my arrival in Oregon I had never been farther west than St. Louis, Missouri and the trip here was quite a shock. My plane had a short layover in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have never seen desert before and I was in true awe of the scenery throughout my short hour there. Seeing the Great Salt Lake and all the desert salt flats in between the mountain tops looked like something out of a painting! As I flew out of the desert and into the mountains of Oregon, again I was in for a total shock. Mountain tops covered with snow, gigantic confiners leaning over open ocean, I was in love before I even stepped off the plane.

OIMB Beach

Upon my arrival into Coos Bay, my mentor, Scott Groth, gave me a tour around the area. As we drove up Cape Arago highway we stopped off at an overlook of the bay to check for tsunami debris. Sure enough, all the way down at the bottom of the cliff face was a washed up Japanese plastic pallet. Much of the debris from the tsunami that struck Japan several years ago has been floating up on the coast of Oregon and biologists have been avidly collecting samples and trying to remove live specimens to avoid the spread of Japanese invasive species.

Within hours upon my arrival I was already scaling down the side of a cliff, sample bags and scraper in hand, to retrieve samples off of Japanese tsunami debris and at that moment I was assured I was in for an interesting and informative summer. We scraped off many kinds of unknown shellfish and algae (we are still processing the sample) and I was given a tour of the surrounding tide pools at the base of the cliff—full of shellfish, anemones, sculpins, etc.—to the soundtrack of sea lions (which I had never seen outside of a zoo!) barking on a nearby island. It was truly an exciting first day on the job.

OIMB Beach Anemones

As the week went on I had begun to learn the ropes of the ODFW’s shellfish program. This week was all about collecting data on pink shrimp, cockles, and spot prawn. Local fishing boats and clammers offer samples to the ODFW in order for us to keep track of size structure and monitor age class trends over the years in order to ensure sustainable fisheries. Not only did I learn how to measure carapaces and sex shrimp but I also had the pleasure of meeting with the local fishermen and hearing their tales of their times out at sea, which is always very colorful! This coming week’s project will be littleneck clam surveys and will bring even more excitement as good stories always seem to come from field work.

I hope you will all continue to tune in as I delve more into the science of marine life here on the Oregon coast with the ODFW! I will post weekly about my experiences here in Coos Bay and am excited for the coming weeks as well as having you all following me along in my journey!

Tide Pool Sea Star



I’m Chris Eardley, a Natural Resources Policy Fellow for Oregon SeaGrant. I’ve been paired up with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Reserves program, and I’m excited to be gaining agency experience in management of marine resources. I’ll be putting the inter-disciplinary training I received from OSU’s Marine Resource Management to work on both the biological and social sides of management. On the social side, I’ll be developing a socio-cultural profile of a local fishing community that will seek to inform future ocean management discussions (not just marine reserves).

With the biological side, I’ll be contributing to the development of pre-reserves baselines by analyzing footage gathered using a variety of underwater video survey techniques. This includes supporting field deployment of video equipment such as ROVS and video sleds, reviewing video footage, and helping to develop protocols. I’ll focus largely on invertebrates and I’ll also be supporting GIS work. Hopefully, I’ll even get one of those cool ODFW winter hats.

In a nutshell, I’m going to be busy and I’m learning a ton–including what sideways rain looks like and how many types of precipitation are possible in the span of an hour on the Oregon coast.

Should make for an interesting winter!