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!
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!
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!
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.