Monday, July 9, 2012

Kailey - Getting Muddy with Olympia Oysters

Fidalgo Trestle

This past week was all about fieldwork at the trestle site in Fidalgo Bay.  Dr. Dinnel, community and Shannon Point volunteers, along with myself took nearly 600 quadrat samples (1/4 M^2) conducting a survey of live native oysters as well as substrate present.  We gathered data, including oyster measurements, around the original seeding sites as well as along portions of the trestle only accessible during this weeks very low tides.

Pilings that the trestle is built on are counted in sets from the shore out to 100 pilings from the shore, each piling set had 8 samples sites surveyed, one in the very center then at ten foot distances four samples to the north and three samples to the south.  Most sample sites were under water so oysters and substrate were gathered in a bucket and inventoried and recorded at drier ground.  The data gathered this week, along with additional data that we will collect at the next set of low tides, will show how far and densely the oysters have spread on their own and will allow comparison with previous years data.  This years sampling is the largest undertaking yet. 
The tools: pvc 10 foot pole for spacing samples, quadrat, and bucket for collection.
My first day at the site was quite the learning experience.  At one point I went deep into the mud on the north side of the trestle while counting and not paying attention, I got halfway turned around and couldn’t budge my boot nor could I pull it out of the mud balanced on one foot while digging and pulling.  I eventually called Dr. Dinnel over who first asked where the camera was but it was safely in my pocket and not available for embarrassing photos.  He then came over and dug my boot out, it was so stuck that after digging it ¾ of the way out both of us pulling wouldn’t free it.  I ended up balanced on one foot while he dug out my boot for me.  I learned my lesson and only got fairly muddy not completely muddy, pay attention to how far you are sinking in the mud and keep shifting if needed.  Apparently each intern gets one digging out and I was by far not the first who needed rescuing.

 I was surprised by the amount of oil still leaching from the creosote pilings which Dr. Dinnel said are about 100 years old.   It amazes me that people still clam under and near the trestle.  Not only is oil sheen present within rotting pilings but oil is also leaching into the surrounding soil so at times when you walk you release oil and sadly the tide carries it away.

The weather steadily improved throughout the week which was nice and encouraging.   Because the bay is shallow and large the water that remains at low tide is surprisingly warm, during bad weather the water was actually warmer than the ambient air.
Early in the week rain and wind, I'm not a hunchback my backpack is under my coat to stay dry.

Later in the week sun and mud!

An Olympia oyster that settled on an oyster drill.

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