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.