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.