Friday, June 28, 2013

Natasha Christman: The Start of a Summer

You might not notice it when cruising the gorgeous Fidalgo Island in Western Washington, but there is actually a laboratory tucked into the corner of the deep coastal forests. It might be easy to miss on the roads, but this scientific hotspot at Shannon Point Marine Center is the reason why I've made the several hour journey from nearby Seattle to the small town of Anacortes. I'll be here as a COSEE intern throughout the summer- right in between the completion of my studies at Olympic College and my future at the University of Washington. It's only been a few days up here at Shannon Point, but I can tell already it is going to be a fantastic summer.

I have been blazing down a career direction of biology nearly my entire life; from even an early age, observing the wonders of nature has been one of my great passions. My interest in marine science first sparked from my experience living in Puget Sound for so many years. When I started volunteering at the Seattle Aquarium, I learned how truly magnificent the ocean is and how much it really means to me. From there, I started scuba diving and investing more of my time into water-related pursuits. The marine world hooked me in, and the PRIME internship provided a fantastic opportunity to pursue these interests, particularly in research-driven science and learning that I believe will be invaluable to my growth as a student and prepare me as I pursue a career as a researcher and scientist!

So this summer, I will be working with Dr. Jude Apple of Western Washington University. We are studying and monitoring low-levels of dissolved oxygen (hypoxia) in and around Bellingham Bay of Washington. This evaluation of water quality ties in with the plankton communities and health of the ocean as it is affected by human activities and climate change. Low oxygen levels can be disastrous to the delicate ocean balance, and the destruction can be seen in "dead zones" that can form in areas over a period of time. Added with other contributors to lowered water quality such as increased nutrient and sediment levels and contamination with fecal coliform, hypoxia is a prominent issue of ocean health and will be a major aspect of the summer research.

Thursday, the research vessel left the dock for the summer's first research cruise. We collected data and samples from several sites. After a few hours on the boat, the water became a bit choppy, but that did not stop the science! And Friday, we will analyze the data. So stay tuned for more from our research!

Natasha Renae Christman


  1. Great job on your first day out on the water Natasha. I am looking forward to getting your project and experiments started, especially with your interest in the interaction of climate change, ocean acidification and coastal hypoxia.

  2. This sounds like a great project, I look forward to hearing about the outcomes.