Monday, July 30, 2012

Getting more acquainted with Fidalgo Bay

Betty addresses a captive audience at the Cap Sante and Shell Tank Farm Waterfront park area.
      On Tuesday evening Anna, another student from SPMC, and I met up with the group from the Bikespot and headed out with them on the Trail Tales Interpretive Ride.   Trail Tales is a series of (usually) walks throughout the summer  that discuss different themes every week and this week was ecological.   A lot of the ride was along the Tommy Thompson trail.  It was led by Betty Kuehn and Betty Carteret and they educated the group on the history and cleanup of sites on the Anacortes shoreline.  It was really interesting and informative.
      Anacortes boomed with lumber mills and shipping in a time when environmental impact wasn't even a thought.  Today they are reclaiming their waterfront and cleaning up past generations left behind pollution.  The Department of Ecology leads the project and has taken a bay-wide approach rather than individual sites.  They are focused on cleaning up toxins including, dioxins, furins, PCB's, heavy metals, wood debris, petroleum hydrocarbons and more while also replacing natural habitats.
     The Tommy Thompson Trail is the very same trail that runs over the trestle where our field work has been.  In fact the last stop of the night was at the west end of the trestle and the history of this part of the bay was briefly discussed. Overall it was really nice to learn both more about the history of the town and bay but also about the clean up that has already started.
    On Wednesday Crista and I did a cyanotype of my oyster shells as a part of her project.   It was a lot of fun and the result is striking.  We laid Olympia shells in the center and surrounded them with Pacific shells and let it develop in the sun for ten minutes before sprinting through the building to a water bath.
Crista shows off finished product ready to dry.
        That afternoon Dr. Brian Bingham gave a wonderful talk on how to give a good presentation including graphics and power point as well as personal presentation.  I feel more confident now in my ability to put together a visually appealing and cohesive presentation.  Also there was cake because we don't do anything here at SPMC without food.
          Wednesday night and Thursday morning were more data and I feel like I am making significant headway.  One part still baffles me a bit where I am creating a site map and layers of illustration representing densities of Olympia oysters, clam shell and oyster shell from each sampled quadrat that we took along the entire site.  Crista is helping me with illustrator creating the site maps then Nam will help with my data point plots which helps calm my nerves. 
    In the evening I took a ride into town, down the Tommy Thompson and out across the trestle.  Mount Baker looked just beautiful across Fidalgo Bay in the fading light.

Mt. Baker across Fidalgo Bay.
     Riding across the trestle was nice, hearing the waves gently lapping and feeling the warm evening breeze.  I was surprised when I reached the far end and saw oil in the water.   I shouldn't have been surprised after all the oil we released from the mud when we were doing our survey but I still was. 
Beautiful view along a gorgeous trail.
     Looking up from the water I couldn't look away from the view, what a gorgeous evening in an amazing place.  I foresee more rides out here in my remaining time.
Lunch in the library.
       When we first arrived at SPMC the staff had a potluck lunch for us.  Friday to show our appreciation for all they do for us we had a potluck lunch for them. It was a lot of fun and a lot of good food of course.  
Watermelon, feta, basil salad - amazing!
     After lunch the dive crew headed out to see if they could find any Olympia oysters in a channel that runs near the trestle.  Apparently genetic data shows that younger Oysters at the trestle site have some varied genetics from what was planted pointing at other Olympias nearby and we were on the hunt for them.
The entire trestle takes my 180 degree pan function.
Anne, Annie, Dr. Dinnel and Nate Schwack.
     Anne and Annie dove for quite some time searching in the mucky water with very low viability looking for oysters.   Dr. Dinnel also had them collect some shell and bring it back up for us to look for small juvenile on them that could be hard to spot underwater.  The ladies brought up a good batch of shells but none of them had any spat on them.  
Anne and Annie diving the trestle

The shell collection.
      One fun part of going to the trestle was that we went by Shannon Point on the water and got a new view of our temporary home. It was a great afternoon and a wonderful end to another great week out here at Shannon Point Marine Center.  This week I realized how quickly our time is coming to an end and was saddened.  I wish we could stay out here all summer and maybe even longer.  My mood is buoyed by the thought that I am now a Western student and will hopefully be taking classes out here shortly. 

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