Saturday marked my last day as a teenager, and it started off with me working on my poster and sitting in a meeting with Richard about my poster. It was extremely nice of Richard to sit down with me and have a fresh set of eyes on my poster. It was also a great opportunity for me to better explain my project to him because I think there were some miscommunications during last week's Professional Development. My friends Bri and Juliet arrived a little before noon, so I got to see them after the first half of my meeting with Richard. My mom, sisters, and grandparents arrived during the second half of my meeting with Richard, so they hung out at the Marine Life Center while I worked. I took my family on a tour of my workspaces here at OIMB, and even showed them South Slough's Interpretive Center. Later in the evening, Juliet and Bri took me to see the new Jurassic World movie, and it was nice to have a night out with my girls after not seeing them for a while.
Sunday was my birthday, so Bri and Juliet took me out to breakfast. Afterward, they embarked back home. When I arrived back on campus, Natalie took me to one of the beaches for snorkeling. However, it was very windy, so we ended up sitting in the waves instead. I spent the rest of the day working on my poster, adding a trendline and taking out some words. After dinner, I received a card from the rest of the REU's. Then, we set up a movie and chilled on the couches. It was also my younger sister Caitlin's birthday, so she called me so we could wish each other a happy birthday. My dad also called, and I got to talk to my youngest two siblings.
Monday was the day of poster printing. After a few cosmetic changes to my poster, I have 3 copies of my poster. To be fair, one is an 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper and is very cute. I helped Nicole roll the posters and slide them into the protective tubes. As a thank you to Ed for his help printing the posters, I bought him some coffee from Bayside, and it made his day. Natalie and I took Nancy with us when we went to Bayside during lunch because Nancy is leaving early and hadn't been yet. After work, I binged the new season of Voltron, as a reward for finally getting my poster finished.
Tuesday morning I printed off my references that go with my poster since they didn't fit on my poster. Then, Ali and I went out on the boat to Valino to pick up the SeapHOx. I cleaned it, then we plugged it into the laptop to download the data. I then got to invade Wyatt's lab again and let the SeapHOx sit in the water table. After that, I worked in Access to add in missing zeros from certain years. With the time left before Professional Development, I started on an Excel worksheet that will have all the South Slough, Coos Bay, OSU (Seagrant and Caitlin's), ODFW SEACOR eelgrass data on it, and helped Adam start Chlorophyll analysis. Professional Development this week was about future internships and job opportunities. It was really cool to discover the wide variety of options I have open to me, no matter what path I end up taking with my life. Since it was Nancy's last night with us, we went out to Thai food. I had never had Thai before, and it blew my mind, in a good way. I'm going to have to learn how to make Thai iced tea because I am hooked. analysis.
Wednesday started off with Adam and I finishing working on Chlorophyll tests. Then, Ali and I went back to Valino to drop off the SeapHOx. I ended up dropping my phone at the dock and didn't realize it. Luckily, it was still there when we went back for it, and it was unharmed. I realized on our way back on the boat, that it was my last time being out on the water for my internship. It was a bittersweet moment because I have learned so much and love what I have accomplished, but I am also excited to go home. We got back in time for me to get ready for the poster session. The presentation was not as bad as I thought it was going to be, I got a lot of positive feedback on my project, and it was inspiring to hear how many people also care for eelgrass. Seminar was by Dr. Hilary Hayford from the University of Washington, and it was about snails. I couldn't help but be reminded of my own snail, Blinker, and really enjoyed the talk.
Ali had given me a list of things to try to get done before I left, so I spent Thursday trying to get as much of it done as possible. I started by going into Access and fixing some of the previous entries made by past interns by entering zeros for all blank quadrats of eelgrass. next I entered in new eelgrass data from ODFW into a new Excel worksheet, along with all the data I used for my project. Ali is going to be using all the data for a small grant. Next, we worked in Primer some more, but this time with all the data. Thursday was also my last full day in the office, because Friday we have our last meeting with Richard and Maya at 2:30. I knew this experience was coming to a close, but I feel so many mixed emotions about the end. I'm so grateful to the staff at South Slough and OIMB for my summer, I learned so much from everyone. To cope with all the feels, I had one last movie night. This time we watched Babadook, which I had seen before. Spoilers, I still get mad when the dog dies.
The past few days in Charleston were foggy and cold, so waking up on Friday to no clouds in the sky was pretty sweet way to start my last work day. Primer was still running the PERMANOVA Ali and I set up the previous day. To be fair, there are 14 years of data, each with 4 quarters. And we are including all 15 sites. After eating lunch today, Natalie, Wyatt and I walked down to the private beach. I returned to work after lunch, sadly the PERMANOVA was still running, but I cleaned up my desk and gave my thank you notes to everyone. I also sorted some files for the South Slough office, making specific binders for eelgrass data at the sites. Dinner was at Richard's house, and it was a blast. He brought out a potato gun, and everyone was given the opportunity to fire it. Ali gave me a goodbye present, and I gave her and Eleanor one last hug. Bree also snuck a hug. We returned to OIMB, set up for another movie night, but we ended up going to bed.
For future OIMB REU interns, my advice would be to take the wall situation in the dorms seriously, earplugs and headphones are heavily encouraged. Also, if you want the most enjoyable experience during your internship, don't treat this experience as school work. Yes, you are here to learn, but you are also here for the experiences. Don't be afraid to take a walk to the beach, help another intern with their project, or go tidepooling. Your experiment will be finished, your poster will be printed, and you will complete as much as you can. There is hard work involved, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't also be fun.
Over the past couple weeks I had worked on the introduction, background information, and methods for my poster. I knew it was going to be hard to get everything I wanted on it, especially in a coherent fashion, but I was glad to get a head start. On Monday, Ali and I worked my rough draft together, putting on a couple pictures and importing some graphs. Tuesday was pretty much the same, except the rough drafts were due at the beginning of Professional Development, we projected everyone’s posters one-by-one onto the chalkboard in one of the classrooms, so we could give each other advice. Richard and Maya were also there, so they gave input as well. I knew going in that I needed to make my font bigger and that I probably needed to get rid of a couple of the visuals, but it was still nice to get someone else’s opinion too.
Wednesday was spent working on the second draft of my poster, trying to get a couple of the suggestions in place. I also spent some time in Primer and PERMANOVA, the statistics software that I’ll be using to work up my eelgrass percent cover and density data. Learning a new software can be hard, and I’ve certainly been riding the struggle bus. Luckily, Tony D’Andrea from ODFW has experience in Primer, so he gave us a quick overview. My younger sister, Caitlin, called me after work, so we talked for a bit. She and a few other family members are coming down this weekend, so I get to show them around OIMB and maybe even the South Slough Interpretive Center. My mom ended up sending me some scones in the mail, so Natalie and I had a small tea party in the dining hall, which Matt later joined.
Thursday was much the same, as I continued to work on my poster. I finally figured out how to correctly import my data into Primer, so Ali, Tony, and I managed to set up and run the PERMANOVA. It was cool to see what factors in my dataset were significantly affecting the percent cover and density of the eelgrass beds. To my surprise, site overall wasn’t significant. However, year and quarter were. When Ali and I ran pair-wise tests, five individual sites were significantly different from each other. Adam was kind enough to give me a break from staring at a computer screen, by teaching me how to calibrate the sondes. Working with the sondes is always stressful for me, because I know they are expensive equipment and have several delicate parts, so I am careful when using them. I only had enough time to calibrate the pH and turbidity probes, but it was still a lot of fun.
In the evening, OIMB held their Invertebrate Ball. I had been thinking of my costume for a while, and had it ready to go. In honor of my aquatic pet snail, Blinker, I went as a yellow snail. I made antenna out of a yellow headband from Dollar Tree, two rolls of cardboard, and yellow tape. My shell was made out of my sleeping bag, because the inside was yellow. I had to secure it with shoes laces though, since the straps to hold my sleep bag in a roll where no longer available once I flipped my sleeping bag inside out. To my great surprise, I ended up winning Best Overall Costume, and received a giant fluffy octopus as a prize. Natalie won most obscure phylum and Nancy won Best Pun, so REUs definitely had some pride. I really liked Chris’ and Wyatt’s costumes. Chris went as a Green crab, he laminated claws and eye stalks and wore a sign labeled “invasive”. Wyatt was a comb jelly, he made ctenophores out of lines of combs, and carried a jar jelly with a comb in it. My favorite part was Mia in her chiton costume, walking down the walkway.
Friday was both stressful and stress relieving. We had to complete the cosmetic touches to my poster and finish a couple statistics, then remember to submit to Richard and Maya so they can look the posters over before printing on Monday. The part that took us the longest was writing the discussion, because we had to condense why all the aspects I have looked at this summer were important to eelgrass, then explain the findings that my data and statistics showed in relation to that. Eelgrass is a pretty resilient plant, but it has its limits. If the water gets too warm or is too salty, then Z. marina can’t reproduce. If the water is full of sediments then Z. marina can’t photosynthesize. The long term trends of my project showed an increase in water temperature, an increase in suspended sediments, and a decrease in salinity (a measurement of how salty water is). My final graphs of eelgrass percent cover and density showed did show that Coos Bay sites are higher than South Slough, however all the eelgrass meadows displayed a drop in numbers.
To celebrate turning in the posters, Chris, Matt, and I set up the projector after dinner and watched a couple shows. It was really helpful to wind down, but also was a great way to begin our last weekend together. I probably won’t be seeing to much of the other REUs on Saturday, because my family is coming down, and Juliet is staying for the weekend. My sister Caitlin and I have our birthday on Sunday, so my final days as a teenager are in sight. It’s weird to realize that this time next week, the internship will be over, we’ll be headed home, and I may never see some of these people ever again. This experience has been nothing that I thought it would be like, and I’m really glad for that. If you always stay in your comfort zone, you’d never learn anything new. I’ve learned so much and have had a lot of personal growth this summer, and I’m really grateful to Ali, Richard, and Maya for this opportunity. As happy I will be to be home in my own bed at the end of next week, I know a part of my will always remain here at OIMB.
It was time for the monthly water grabs for inorganic nutrients, bacteria, chlorophyll, and Total Suspended Solid (TSS). This meant Adam, Ali, and I got to take the Katana (R/V JE Tally) out and retrieve wild Oregon saltwater on Monday. In the morning we were joined by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) intern, Alexa, and fellow South Slough intern, Bethany. Alexa went with Adam to do the Winchester water grab, and that left the rest of us to start the lab work. Bethany couldn't stay for the afternoon high tide water grabs, so we were joined by Jordan, an education intern. The lab work all went really fast for the bacteria, chlorophyll, and inorganic nutrients filtering. Sadly, there wasn't enough time to do the TSS, so that was pushed until Wednesday. Bethany got to drive the Katana in the morning, Alexa and I got to take turns in the afternoon. It was an all-around magical day, and I'm sad that it was the last time I will be able to partake in the water grab nutrient sampling. I guess that is the proper motivation for finding a job in marine science, so I can one day continue having days like Monday.
On Wednesday I started the TSS filtering. I forgot how long low tide Winchester took, because of how much sediment is in the water sample. The other 21 water samples filtered very quickly, so I was able to finish in time for Shon, the new Lead Scientist at the Reserve, to use the filter in the afternoon. Later in the day, I went back to my temperature graph and did an average daily water temperature for June 2017 at both transects A and C compared to the monthly sonde data. It was faster and easier to do the daily average because I just had to copy and paste one monthly from my monthly average raw data file. The results were really fascinating because for over half the month both sites were approximately 3.5 degrees C above the monthly average. After I got off of work for the day, I started working on my presentation for the Charleston Marine Life Center (CMLC) that is on Thursday. I decided against bringing in Zostera marina because after a few hours it would stink really bad. I opted to make my own eelgrass bed instead, out of cardboard and ribbon. One of the grad students from Natalie's lab gave me a spool of green ribbon for the eelgrass, and Julie, Natalie's mentor, gave me some stickers to help show the diversity of life in eelgrass beds. Natalie and I later went to Walmart so I could get some crab stickers because I plan to mention juvenile Dungeness crabs frequently in my presentation because it's an organism most people know around here.
The seminar was at 7 pm this week, instead of the usual 3 pm. Dr. Leigh Torres from OSU was the speaker, and her topic was "Modern Whales Living in Urban Places". I've loved whales since I was little, so I was pumped about this week's seminar since I found out what the topics were. Dr. Torres didn't disappoint, keeping the seminar light and funny. It can be easy to let the damage happening to the earth and its creatures get to you, but she kept us laughing. Some people might ask what is so important about whales, and while I agree with Dr. Torres that they are super cool, most people don't realize how much revenue is brought into Oregon from whale watching. During the seminar, it was mentioned to be $29.8 million. The testing that was done on the whales during her experiment was fascinating because it wasn't invasive to the whales; she collected the whale poop. You can also get blood and blubber from whales, but that can cause discomfort and stress to the whales. Part of her presentation was dedicated to the noise pollution humans create in the oceans, and it was no surprise to me that the loud noises might stress out the whales, I know loud noises stress me out. At least I can escape to a different place, but whales are stuck in the water, and humans are everywhere.
My presentation at the CMLC started at 12 pm, and I was excited to see how it would go. I brought a full size quadrat, my homemade eelgrass bed, waders for kids to try on, a mini quadrat, and some pictures from previous eelgrass monitoring. My favorite part was probably the two little boys who put on the XL waders I borrowed, especially when their dads would pull the waders all the up. Since the boys were so much shorter than the waders, one dad was able to use the straps to seal his child inside the waders, much to the kid's delight. My other favorite part was the fact I was put at the entrance of the CMLC, because not only did that mean I interacted with everyone who came through the doors, I also got a great view of Octavius, the male Giant Pacific Octopus. It was also opportunistic, because when the flow of people slowed, I was able to visit the touch tank.
Friday will be the day we go to the University of Oregon in Eugene. I was worried about the last long car trip we took as a group, but it went okay, so I'm not too worried about this one. It'll be cool to see the labs at UO because I've never seen them before and have heard very little. Exploring Eugene will be interesting, and I'm sure we'll make an exciting adventure out of it.
This week started off pretty intense and interesting. From 9 AM to 4 PM, Ali and I were one of the teams that did Habitat Mapping in the Reserve, but to get to our points (Cox Canyon/Winchester) we had to hike quite a distance. I don't know if you've ever tried hiking through a forest (not pathways, but under, over, and through brush) in really tight pants, but it's not the fastest way to get somewhere. I was really glad to be in waders when we hit the marsh though, with the appearance of the marsh came the shoe hungry mud. Both Ali and I started off pretty strong, but I took one wrong step, and my leg was swallowed by the marsh. Unlike previous encounters with sinky mud, I couldn't pull my foot out, because it had slid between two tree logs, one on top of the marsh, the other beneath the surface. It was definitely a great reminder of why hiking on your own can be dangerous. Thankfully, I wasn't alone. Ali and I spent some time getting my foot free, but the shoe was left in the mud. After we both had mud up to our elbows, the shoe came free. Even with the mud incident and the fact my waders were ripped by the hike, it was a really fun experience. There was a lot of cool wildlife and signs of wildlife. Before we sat down for lunch, we passed by some trees that had evidence of beaver munching. When we were hiking back out, we passed by Cox pond we saw a small beaver dam. After we returned to OIMB, I took a quick shower and got ready for the potluck the South Slough staff was putting on for their interns. Chris made really good brownies, but I was lame and didn't bring anything. Since it was a farewell to the other interns who would soon be leaving, we were asked what our favorite and least favorite parts of working for the Slough were. So far, my least favorite was has been hiking in waders. Despite Monday being intense, I chose it as one of my favorite parts, because I'll now be one of the infamous interns that are included in warnings of why we don't do certain things, like take a wrong step in a marsh. I've also really liked kayaking, doing the eelgrass monitoring, and being out on the skiff. There were two dogs at the potluck, so I had fun petting both of them.
I only worked half the day on Tuesday, but I continued working on my graphs since the axis on one of them was off by one unit. Chris came in with over 300 Green Crabs, so I volunteered my services of writing down the data. I ended up helping measure crabs, which was pretty fun, probably because I didn't get pinched hard. I didn't make it to Professional Development, because I was out of town. Wednesday comprised mostly of working on my temperature data. Seminar this week was by Dr. Glen Ford on The Secret Life of Dead Birds. He started his presentation by describing the New Carrisa's accident off of Coos Bay in 1999, resulting in an oil spill after the ship broke apart. Listening to the measures that were taken to get rid of the bow of the ship was horrifying and amusing at the same time. Not many vessels can claim to survive an explosion and being shot 69 times. Only a Mark 48 torpedo was capable of sinking the Ship that Would Not Die. Thousands of gallons of oil were released when the ship broke apart, killing thousands of birds. When the Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened in the Gulf of Mexico, more birds were oiled. The number of birds that are killed by the oil spill is important because it plays into how much the people/company at fault has to pay for repair and restoration.
Thursday and Friday were both early mornings. Caitlin, the OSU grad student who let me use some of her eelgrass density data for my project, came to collect more data for a few days, so I was able to pay her back by helping in the field. Since I am going to OSU in the Fall, it was cool to see how the information I have gathered during my internship here could easily become something I continue with even after my internship ends. The mascot of OSU is a beaver, so it seemed like my week was sticking to a theme. Thursday was at Barview, so Caitlin and I raced the incoming tide, but we still only got 5 quadrats each sampled. On Friday, Adam took us out in the skiff to Valino. Chris had some free time in the morning, so he came along to help also. With Chris' help, I was able to complete all 10 of my quadrats. Caitlin is much faster than I am, and she also got all 10 of her quadrats completed.
Thursday at Barview, although it was colder, had a lot more wildlife to show off. I had to pick tiny sea stars and crabs, opalescent sea slugs, a kelp crab, an isopod, and several Eelgrass Sea Hares (Phyllaplysia taylori). Friday's wildlife mostly consisted of the sea stars I pulled off Caitlin's sensors and the hairy shore crab that greeted us when we arrived at Valino. Eelgrass meadows are so important for a variety of species, and it was cool to see so many species among the eelgrass. If the eelgrass continues to vanish, these species could be left without a home.
On Saturday I helped Kerrigan, Ali, and Jenni with a University of Oregon journalism class that wanted some background on South Slough. I got to talk about my project a little, which was really good for experience. The class was highly interested in the eelgrass Ali preserved from Friday's excursion at Danger Point. The students were really friendly, and I even got to meet another LBCC graduate. The contrast of knowledge I have from my first day helping with the Master Naturalist class and the knowledge I have now is amusing to me. A few weeks ago I couldn't tell you the common names of some of the marsh grasses or much about eelgrass. I don't know all of it yet, but I still have time to learn.
Monday Amanda, Ali and I kayaked out to Hidden Creek at a very low tide. We knew going in that there probably wasn't going to be a whole lot of eelgrass at the Hidden Creek site, but we were determined to have fun anyway and the site has very sinky mud and very difficult to walk in. We did see eelgrass in the channel and along the channel sides from Charleston to Long Island but it was very sparse, and then there was no eelgrass from Hidden Creek to Hinch Bridge. It was really great to have Ali and Amanda there, they both were really patient with me, even though I was slow and needed help getting in and out of my kayak. Along our journey, we saw a lot of wildlife, my favorites being the two raccoons. One we saw early into the trip, it was small and waddled away quickly when it saw the oncoming people. The other was bigger, but it didn't have a tail. It walked from the woods to the edge of the water, washing its hands and grabbing things out of the water to eat. The second raccoon was braver than the first and stayed put for a while, even after I had passed it. I saw it later, peeking its face out of the woods further up the shore, making sure we were leaving its territory. We also saw many herons, crabs, vultures, and even a wasp nest. We didn't always have enough water to glide over the mud, so we tried a few interesting techniques to free ourselves. I ended up waddling on my knees at one point, determined not to let the mud get me. The scenery, despite the lack of eelgrass, was amazing. I have officially kayaked the entire South Slough, and even though I was tired and sore afterward, it was a really fun day, and highly recommend it to everyone. The saddest part of my day was returning to OIMB, and discovering we had no hot water in our dorm. We had it by the next morning, so I got my shower and cup of tea.
Tuesday and Wednesday comprised mostly of my working in Excel. I finished entering in the data from Valino Island, Danger Point, and Hidden Creek into the eelgrass density Access database, so I got to export that data into my Excel worksheets. Even though all the zeros might seem pointless to enter in, the number of sites and data points taken is important for the statistics Ali and I will be doing towards the end of my project. Ali and I also downloaded the data from the two Hobo loggers we gathered on Friday, so on Wednesday, I got to enter that data into my temperature graph. To my great sadness, I had to remove the data from Site C 2017 for months October through December, because the logger was trying to tell us the water during those months was the same temperature as the water in the summer. I get to do some digging to try to find different data for those months that is more accurate. Ali taught me how to export data tables from SWMPrats, which is where I'll get the Sonde data to compare to South Slough's Hobo recorded temperatures. To my and Ali's surprise, the Sonde temperature and the Hobo temperature were more similar than we were expecting, with only the highs and lows of the Hobo data being a little higher.
Professional development was on Tuesday, and I got to watch the five interns who didn't go last week share their research proposals. After that, we started working on our posters. I am using Microsoft Powerpoint to build my poster on because I have the more experience in it than other programs we could use. The seminar on Wednesday was by Dr. Kirill Kotkin on the research in the Russian Arctic. He had a great sense of humor and a lot of beautiful pictures of the Russian Arctic. The presentation was inspirational to watch because English wasn't his first language. I can barely stutter out a presentation in my first language, I can't imagine being able to do it in a different language.
I found myself back at Indian Point on Thursday, helping Amanda, Jenni. amd Ali with vegetation monitoring. This time we weren't looking for Bog Lilies, we were identifying, measuring, and counting trees, shrubs, and other vegetation. For me, it felt like a mash-up of the lily monitoring and the monitoring we did at Bull Island. Amanda and I were assigned to do the trees but ended up doing the vegetation quadrat at the second site. I continue to fail to find words on how to describe how much I love being in forests. Yes, there are spiders, sap, and bugs like mosquitoes and wasps. However, there is something serene about the different shades of green, something peaceful about the sound the trees make as the wind blows through them. I won't lie, it was pretty nice to have solid ground beneath my feet, no shoe-sucking mud. However, I still think I prefer the eelgrass beds because I don't have vegetation attempting to poke inside my ears, and I can stand up without getting a spider in my hair. Once we returned to OIMB, my younger sister Caitlin called. It sounded like we both had an interesting past couple of days, and even though we fight more than we get along, it was nice to hear her voice.
I volunteered to help Chris catch Green Crabs on Friday, and later will be cleaning off the Sondes and continuing to work on my data. This weekend we are going to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. So much to do in an increasingly short amount of time. Some of the other South Slough interns who have been here longer than me are already starting to get ready to go home, so I'm definitely feeling the time crunch. That being said, I'm going to get everything done to the best of my ability, and I'll continue giving this internship 100%.
This weekend was the first real weekend the REU's as a whole group didn't have something planned, so Natalie and I enjoyed the freedom. We decided to explore some of downtown Charleston, first adventuring down to Amethyst and Alchemy. Inside the store was really cool! I ended up getting a $10 grab bag and two candles. Next, we went for coffee at Bayside Coffee. Well, Natalie got coffee. Not being a coffee drinker, I got a Strawberry Italian Soda. After enjoying sitting the sun for a while, we ventured into Thrifty Sisters. Inside, I found the coolest mug! It has a little pocket attached on the outside for teabags!!! For only $.50, it was mine. Later, I went into the South Slough work area, and I put some time into my Excel database. Sunday was a super lazy day, I binged a lot of Netflix.
Monday was a fantastic day to start my week off with. I completed adding the past data to my Eelgrass Density and Percent Cover graph, along with calculating the standard deviations and standard errors, which allowed me to add error bars to my graph. This data and graph focus on showing the startling differences in Zostera marina (the eelgrass species I am studying this summer) populations in South Slough and other places in Oregon (in this case, Coos Bay). Another shout-out and thank you to all involved OSU people (especially Caitlin and Jen) for letting me use their data, along with Oregon Department of Fishery and Wildlife. The Coos Bay data I received for all of you really has helped the dataset I have from South Slough have something to be compared to. Once I upload South Slough's 2018 data to the graph and do all the calculations for it, the graph should be complete. Ali and I spent time trying to color coordinate which datasets in the graph shared similar locations like all the South Slough sites were various shades of green. The downside of working on the computer is that they really like to freeze on me, especially just before I try to save my work. I saved frequently though, so I never lost any data when Excel would freeze or crash.
Tuesday was another day of working in Excel. Although I didn't accomplish as much as I would have liked, I completed sorting through South Slough's hobo temperature data for 2005 and 2007-2008. I would use 2006 data, but 2006 was a transition year among South Slough staff, so no data were collected. Sorting through data might not sound impressive, but some files were entered in by different people, so they weren't always labeled clearly. Also, there were a LOT of files. The data is supposed to be gathered and entered quarterly (January-March, April-June, July-September, October-December), for both sites A and C. So: 4 files per site per year, times 2 sites, times 3 years... that's 24 files to find. And when I find the files, I have to edit the data so I only have the temperature of when the temperature logger was in the water, and not when the logger was taking the temperature of the air before and after it was retrieved from the estuary. I also get to tackle 2016-2018 (successfully finished 2016 already!). This data will be used to see if there has been a shift in temperature in the Slough, seeing how Global Warming is warming the entire planet. It's possible the increase in temperature could be a factor in the decline in eelgrass, which is good for my project, not so much for the planet.
Wednesday was a nice slow day in contrast to the quickly paced computer days and the fieldwork days I knew would follow. Ali had an early morning meeting, so I did some mild work in Excel on my temperature data. Ali then gave me a few hours off, because I was still ruffled up from my presentation. I'm really lucky to have a mentor like Ali, someone who gets on my level to tell me to take a break, someone who tells me to tell them when I'm feeling overwhelmed. I'm never one to back down from a challenge, and I know I have a mild perfectionist complex when it comes to my work, add that to my fear of letting people down, the result is often a stressed army-of-one that isn't productive. The staff of South Slough estuary is a fantastic representation of why asking people for help and splitting up tasks is healthy for everyone. Everyone has strengths and plays towards them, whether it's field and lab work, education/outreach, coordinating, or office work. They take days off for personal reasons or family time, they help each other, they help change the world. I'm sure it's more complicated and isn't all sunshine and rainbows, but it's definitely a work environment I thrive in. Later in the day, we had Seminar, this week by Grant McDermott. I liked his presentation because he openly confessed to not knowing much about Marine Science, as his focus was on Economics. He also really slimmed down the math and economic, so I understood what was being talked about. I was going to go with Wyatt for jellyfishing, but ended up going to bed early because I was exhausted.
Thursday arrived with an early morning, bright and early at 5:30 AM. Ali, Amanda, and I were joined by another South Slough intern named Kerrigan on our adventure to Valino Island for Eelgrass Sampling. On the way, we picked up SAMI and SeapHOx instruments. SAMI collects data on CO2, while SeapHOx does high resolution pH. While on Valino, and in-between eelgrass shoot counting, Ali and I took sediment samples and put new Hobo loggers in the field. Hobo loggers are how the temperature data is collected, that's the data I pull for the South Slough temperature data. Kerrigan and Amanda were real troopers because the mud at Valino was treacherous, and the foggy morning was very cold. I was saddened by how little eelgrass was at Valino, only 3-4 of our sampling areas had eelgrass. For an area that once held epic meadows, that almost barren mudflat was heartbreaking, especially after looking at photos before 2016, before the mass decrease in eelgrass density in the Slough. The ride to Valino in the skiff was a lot of fun, but getting back in the boat after getting stuck in the mud was hard. I was certain I was going to lose my shoe again and fell multiple times before safely clambering ungracefully into the skiff. As cold and muddy it was, none of us lost our sense of humor during the whole process, and there was much laughing. We ended up finding golf ball and a metal fork in the mud, so we took them with us to properly dispose of them.
To get to Danger Point, we had to hike from Hinch Bridge. Ali lead the way, followed by Amanda and I. The mosquitoes were bad before entering the forest and during certain marshy parts of the hike, but once we were in the forest or had a cool breeze they left us alone. Ali was really nice and did most of the mud walking once we reached Danger Point, Amanda stayed on the bank, looking at the map and recording data. While in the mud, Ali found a molt of a European Green Crab, which isn't a good sign. The most disheartening part of the whole trip was the lack of rooted eelgrass on site. All the eelgrass we found were strands that previous tides had washed up, but I couldn't see any that was growing. Since Ali and I are helping at the Interpretive Center tomorrow, she gathered some of the shoots and bagged them, as a visual aid. On the way back to OIMB, we hooked up the kayaks to the truck, and are prepared for kayaking on Monday.
My project encompasses trends in water quality, eelgrass density, percent cover in eelgrass, and the metabolic rate of Valino. Water quality encompasses things like water temperature, nutrients, the amount of chlorophyll, pH, and so many other things. Comparing present day to past data can be a challenge, but I have a network of support behind me. Ali is going to use the data I assemble in a grant for South Slough, and I can't put into words how cool I think that is. Even though the turn Zostera marina took is sad, being the person looking for conditions that may have attributed to the decrease is an honor and an amazing experience. I get to collect the data, use past data, and have amazing people willingly giving me their data to incorporate into my project. I get field and lab training, have interpersonal skill development, and so many opportunities to try new things. Sometimes this whole experience feels like a dream, and I surprised to wake up in the morning and find myself still here.
Although I don't do it very often, camping is something I really enjoy. Something about being surrounded by forest is serenely peaceful. I went in Wyatt's car with Matthew, and Chris to the campground, and we kept it pretty lively with jazz and sarcasm. After putting our tents up, we all went to Cape Arago Beach and played in the water. Campfire was probably my favorite part, we even told scary stories and made s'mores. Richard visited us, and he definitely took home the title of "Best Marshmallow Roaster". Tidepooling the next morning was AMAZING. I've been tidepooling before, but never in South Cove. My favorite creature I saw was the Porcelain Crab I pulled from under a rock. She was carrying many tiny eggs, and I felt bad for disturbing her. Cape Arago is a really extensive state park, and I really hope we visit it again later this summer.
Monday started off with more fieldwork. I tagged along with Adam to the Met station at Tom's Creek. A Met station is a weather station that has includes a relative humidity/temperature sensor, an anemometer (it measures wind speed/direction), a rain gauge (for measuring how much rain falls near the Met station), solar radiation sensor, and a barometer (it measures barometric pressure). The walk to the station was mildly hazardous, the ground was covered with deep holes, hidden deep within tall grass. It was a glorious day to be outside, the various environments I get to explore this summer are a gift.
I approached Tuesday with some mild apprehension. Ali, Amanda, Jenni, and I kayaked to Bull Island to do some Marsh monitoring. I didn't know what I feared more, the possibility of tipping my kayak over or the mud I knew was in store for me. Despite my fears, I was blown away by the enchanting beauty around me. Between the light reflecting off the water, the far-off trees, and the wind whipping through the marsh grasses, I felt truly blessed to be here this summer. Luckily for me, I did not end up stuck in the mud this time but did come close. Ali is an awesome mentor. She was really patient with me as I learned all the plants' names and continuously forgot their 6 letter code names. It's times like these I feel like a sponge, trying to soak up all the knowledge that I can. My favorite plant is the Brass Button, the tiny yellow flowers were a nice color variation from all the green and brown. Everyone returned from the excursion without kayak flipping, despite the best efforts ot the winds that blew against us.
We all got the 4th off, so I had a lot of free time on my hands. My friend, Juliet, stayed the previous night here at OIMB, so I was determined to get the most of the day. The first thing we did was go to the farmer's market, we ended up buying a lot of fruit. We had lunch at Bastendorff, and enjoyed the view for the incoming tide. I didn't join the others at the fireworks or at the bonfire at the OIMB beach, but instead spent my evening trying to catch up on some sleep. Ana introduced me to a site called Redbubble, so I got to admire some really cute Groot and succulent stickers I might get to cover my laptop. Next week I'm going to get up early for more fieldwork, so it was nice to have an extra day to myself.
Thursday was a really nice slow day. Well, I call it slow, but I got a lot of work done. In Excel, I pulled more data from Coos Bay and put it into my density and percent cover graphs, so now I have two really cool graphs that show how eelgrass numbers have changed over the years. Shoutout to Jen and Caitlin, who are letting me use their data in my project! I also made the finishing touches to my 2016 temperature data and started to work on 2005 data. What I constantly get reminded of is how picky Excel Pivot Tables are. Pivot Tables are really helpful, but you need to be exact with what data you put into it, or it won't give you accurate results. For the temperature data, I will be pulling from 2005-2008 (skipping 2006 because we don't have data) and 2015-2018. It felt really good to accomplish things today, and Friday will probably be much the same.
Natalie, Chris, and I went to help Wyatt Friday morning to do some "jellyfishing". We were hoping to find some pleurobrachia for Wyatt and his lab, and although we saw a lot of jellies, we didn't see any pleurobrachia. The most exciting find of the morning, for me at least, was something that looks like a feather lined worm. I don't know what it is, so I hoping to get a chance to talk to Richard or Maya for some ideas. Amanda was really nice, and unlocked the door to my workspace for me when I got to the office. It's nice to have a workspace were people are 100% willing to help people. I've gotten to help Chris and Wyatt with their traps, visited Natalie's lab, and have interacted a lot with Amanda while in the field. It has only been a few short weeks, but I already have connected with so many people.
I think the most important thing I've been realizing during my stay here at OIMB is that I compare myself a lot to other people. This internship isn't a competition, we're all here for the experience and to learn. Asking questions and asking for help are okay, I'm still learning, there's no reason to expect myself to know everything yet. I'm doing so many things for the first time, and the only person who has criticized my failures is me. My goal for future weeks is to let my fear and self consciousness go, take time to enjoy what I'm learning, and focus more energy on getting work done.
On Saturday we went on the R/V Pluteus. I was looking forward to it all week, and the weather didn't disappoint. While on the vessel, we saw numerous jellyfish, seals, and even a sea lion. It was really cool to be able to point out the differences between seals and sea lions with the other interns and discuss it. We were lucky enough to dredge 3 times while in the Pacific before heading back, the first two times we didn't catch much. The third time, we achieved a trove of sea cucumbers, small crabs, rocks, sand shrimp, and razor clams. The wind took a turn for the worse, and the boat was rocking side-to-side a lot, so we headed back to shore. I was one of the few who ended up getting seasick, but I still enjoyed the short voyage because it was a beautiful day. Sunday was an unofficial personal day. I spent the first part of my day in my room cleaning and tidying. Later, we all walked to Bastendorf Beach, like we did last Sunday. Sadly, there were fewer dogs this trip, but we had 3 UO students join us, and got to know them. Towards the end of the day, I went to the private beach and poked around at more small crabs. Going at low tide was great because there was so much life happening in the pools on the beach.
At 8:30, Chris and I went along with my mentor and other South Slough members to count Western Bog Lilies (Lilium occidentale). The flowers were one of the most intricate and amazing things I've ever seen. It's really sad how endangered they are, but steps have been taken to help them flourish. Some of the trees had been felled to allow for more light to reach the forest floor, and more were marked with red X's. The field work was really helpful because I got to learn how to use the handheld devices, TRIMBLE, that are tracked by satellite. We used them to mark where the lilies were being found. Surprisingly enough, when we visited the control area where no work has been done to sustain the lilies, we found no lilies. Spending time in the forest helped me recharge my internal batteries, even with the damp weather conditions.
Tuesday was a great day because I got to have another try at lab work. Adam and I went to pick up a water collecting device called an ISCO. Inside, the bottles of water are labeled one through 11. With these water samples, I got to run inorganic nutrient samples and chlorophyll tests. The samples get sent to a different lab to have nitrogen and phosphorus testing. To do the inorganic nutrient sampling, I pull water from the bottle into a syringe. Next, I attach a filter to the end of the syringe and push the water through the filter into a small bottle. Any sediment or solids gets left on the filter paper, and the water goes into the freezer. The bottle gets shipped off to a different lab for testing. I have to be careful during chlorophyll test because the chloroplasts will break down when surrounded by light. This means I had to turn off some of the lab lights and keep the water samples either in the cooler or covered by a cup. I got to do total suspended solids (TSS) and bacteria with Ali. The TSS had significantly bigger filter paper for it.
Wednesday had a late start to it because Ali's meeting was canceled. I spent the day continuing chlorophyll testing and getting ready for Thursday's journey. The most exciting part for me was finishing my master excel sheet with some of the data for my project. My Excel sheet has all the water temperatures and dates the temperatures were taken at for sites A and C. Along with other data, I will be answering questions like "How does South Slough's estuary compare to Coo Bay's?" and "What are some likely factors that play into the decline of eelgrass beds at South Slough?", which is what my project is based around. I am using 2016 data in my Excel file but will look at other years as well. Ali sent an email to an OSU student for her estuary data, so I can incorporate it into my project as well. After work, I got to listen to Dr. Deborah Bird from UCLA speak about how skull morphology affects olfactory reception. Your olfaction reception is what gives you your sense of smell. Dr. Bird looked at numerous mammals and has done scans on numerous skulls to observe their cribriform plate, which is a perforated bone (a bone with lots of little holes in it) in the nose of many mammals. I learned the most amazing thing, dolphins have lost all but 12 olfactory receptor genes, and have lost their sense of smell.
Thursday had an early start to it because Ali, Amanda, and I took a boat to the Collver eelgrass sampling site. After looking at the old photos of how eelgrass used to flourish, and seeing what they look like now, felt a little like whiplash. Even though there are some dense patches of eelgrass at Collver, the scene is nowhere near as green or dense. Ali taught me how to distinguish flowering eelgrass from the rest of the eelgrass, and also how to calculate percent coverage and density of eelgrass. If you noticed my picture behind my name, the middle blade of grass is eelgrass with seeds. We were surrounded by different varieties of crabs, but the hundreds of tiny Dungeness Crabs were my favorite. I had never seen so many crabs in one place before. A couple tried to attack our measuring tape with their tiny claws, which was pretty cute to watch. Getting back into the boat after the sampling was the hard part. I felt like a seal trying to get on a beach, flopping around awkwardly before getting a firm seat. When we returned to OIMB, we washed our boots, waders, and the boat. Then Ali and I uploaded the pictures and data. Even though we were all tired, it was an amazing day, and so beautiful. I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything.
I got the day off on Friday, so I decided to help Chris with his Green Crab trapping. European Green Crabs are an invasive species here in Oregon, and Chris is doing his summer experiment over them. I pulled my waders back out from yesterday and headed out with him and his mentor, Bree. If you've ever seen "Neverending Story", picture the scene where Atreyu gets stuck in the Swamp of Sadness. That's pretty much what I looked like when we hit the mud in the estuary. Chris and Bree were really great though and helped me get free, no Luck Dragon needed. The weather cooperated nicely, we got sunlight and a nice breeze while we carried the trapping equipment to different sites. I learned how to establish Green Crabs from other crabs by the 5 teeth on their carapace that starts at their eye. Despite their name, not all European Green Crabs are green, their color ranges from red to yellow to green, depending on how recently the crab has molted. Even with my constant mud-sinking, I enjoyed myself immensely, and highly recommend helping stop European Green Crab's invasion into Oregon.
Movie night is tonight, and we're going to watch Princess Mononoke. This weekend we get to go camping and tidepooling, and I can barely contain my excitement. I feel closer to my fellow interns, and I can't wait to see where next week's adventures take us.
Hello! My name is Korrina Wirfs. I was born into a military family, so that meant moving around a lot. Although I was born in New York, Oregon has been my home for over a decade. My mom, two sisters, and I all live together, and we have weathered many storms together. My dad, stepmom, and two half-siblings also live in Oregon. I love all earth sciences and have always felt a deep connection to our planet. 4-H dominated most of my high school and middle school social life, from Fine Art to Geology. Rock climbing, Marching Band, reading, sending memes, growing succulents, and taking care of my fish are my favorite hobbies. I am definitely not a sports person, and when asked, will have no idea how to get the football to a homerun while avoiding the goalies.
Before I arrived at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, I finished my second year at Linn Benton Community College and achieved an Associate's of Science with an Environmental Science Emphasis. Next Fall I will be attending Oregon State University, continuing my education in order to achieve a Bachelor's degree in Ocean Science. During my time at LBCC, I was a Physical Science lab assistant, which really helped me prepare for my internship. Already knowing what DI water is, how to read a graduated cylinder, how to use a pipette, and how to prepare for Oregon’s temperamental weather has really helped me somewhat get over the learning curve a little faster. Everybody here, from faculty to interns, are really nice, even though I’m usually extremely awkward and quiet.
I first heard of the OIMB REU Internship opportunity from my school advisor, Deron Carter. I ended up also taking a Geology Course from him, and highly recommend him as a professor to all LBCC students. I was really apprehensive about applying for the internship, because Deron told me how many people have applied in the past, and the fact they only take 10-11 students made me start to believe I would never be chosen. Receiving the email that said I was accepted felt like a dream.
While I am here at OIMB, I am interning for the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. This week I had kayak training, did water quality testing, went to the Interpretive Center, joined an Invasive Species Conference, visited the Charleston Marine Life Center, and became familiar with lab techniques used here. Kayak training was intense, and I walked away feeling really embarrassed. I realized I only felt bad because I was comparing myself to other people, and that I should be proud for never giving up. Looking back, it was really fun and everyone was supportive. Water quality testing was the best, even though I had to get up really early. Being out on a boat is my idea fun, and being out on one twice in one day was magical. Low tide was my favorite because we saw many seals and other sea life.