Sunday, June 29, 2014

Week 1 - Hannah Lyons

I am Hannah Lyons and I attend Portland Community College and will be transferring to Portland State University in the fall. My studies at PCC lead me to find my passion in Biology. After taking a few amazing field studies classes at PCC I knew I wanted to pursue a career in field research. I am so happy to be here in Newport learning more about the scientific process and how to conduct field research.
At the Hatfield Marine Science Center I am working with Dr. Brittany Huntington and Stacy Galleher of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. I am working with them on monitoring the marine reserves off the Oregon coast and public outreach. After being introduced and oriented here at ODFW we took the boat out! We collected four SMURFs (Standard Monitoring Unit for Recruitment of Fishes) on the reserve and four from a similar control site. The reserve is a "no take" zone and fishing is not allowed. The control site is chosen in an area that is still being fished for comparison. The SMURF is collected by wrapping a net around it and is swum back to the boat where we collect the fish. Data is meticulously collected on biological and environmental factors. The fish are bagged and labeled very carefully. Organization and precision are very important in field work as it is easy to be overwhelmed or scattered when you are soaking wet and freezing on a rocking boat in the ocean! Very exciting first week and looking forward to the rest of summer.
Collecting the SMURF

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Peter Sheesley - A week of introductory reading and plankton counting practice.

Hello everyone. My name is Peter Sheesley and I've just finished a year of general biology and general chemistry at Centralia Community College, in Centralia, Washington. Centralia is half-way between Portland and Seattle on I-5. In the fall I'll be a full-time student at Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA. This is my second time through college; in my previous career I was a fine-art painter. I've also done some theoretical-science illustration and that was what initially sparked my interest in studying biological science. Marine science is particularly interesting to me because of the variety of life in the ocean and the mysteriousness of life in a habitat so foreign to us. I applied to PRIME because it was recommended by my community college professor, Dr. Steven Norton. In the spring I assisted in a research project of his, dealing with DNA analysis of freshwater sculpin. I'm located at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston, OR. My mentor is Dr. Alan Shanks. Here are a few photos to introduce you to my location at OIMB.

A view of Coos Bay from above OIMB.
A view from nearby Cape Arago State Park.
A view from nearby Cape Arago State Park.
The sign in front of campus.
A view of campus.
The dining hall and some of the dorm rooms.
Our project with the Shanks lab involves analysis of larval recruitment, when individuals are added to populations as they settle from planktonic phase to early juvenile phase. The lab studies the impact of shelf and surf topography and hydrodynamics on larval recruitment. Another PRIME intern, Leyia Johnson, and I are working side-by-side in the Shanks lab. Our first task was to read several previous papers of Dr. Shanks' in order to understand the purpose and mechanisms of the lab. The papers were a valuable introduction to the concepts. Next we were given a net and a jar and instructed to collect phytoplankton samples. These samples were then viewed using compound light microscopes. 

We then spent several days learning to view and identify plankton, and count them. The plankton were transferred to sedgewick-rafter slides and viewed mostly at 100x. One of our main tasks is learning to identify plankton from the genus Pseudonitzschia. Our sampling will quantify these plankton because they contain some toxic elements. They are particularly difficult to identify because they vary in size and are easily mistaken for several other types of plankton. The long pointed Pseudonitzschia cells link together forming even longer chains. Each individual cell is between 50 - 150 micrometers long. Despite a sometimes weary neck and back, I enjoyed getting lost in the minute yet geometrically fascinating world of plankton. Here is an illustration showing some of the first things I learned. 

In addition to looking at plankton in the microscope, we also practiced casting our sampling tube. It is an approximately two-foot-long, three-inch-diameter, clear plastic tube with a stopper at one end and a moveable plastic ball in the interior of the other end. This ball allows water to enter but not exit, mostly. There is an approximately fifty-foot-long rope attached to the tube. The tube is twirled and released towards to ocean in one hand while a spool of rope is held in the other hand. Casting took some practice, but we found success. We also towed a larger net (six-feet-long, three-feet-diameter at the wider end of the cone), to catch zooplankton. We looked at the zooplankton in a dissecting microscope. The dissecting scope is nice because objects appear very three dimensional. Both the compound light-microscope and the dissecting scope bring out different aspects of plankton. The light-microscope emphasizes linear and two-dimensional aspects, and the way light passes through objects. The dissecting scope, with its stereoscopic vision, emphasizes the 3-D and the way light reflects off things. I've just started learning to differentiate and identify various larval forms. 

Bridget Begay - Week 1: Introduction

Hello everyone!

My name is Bridget Begay and I recently graduated from Edmonds Community College with an Associates of Arts in Biology. This fall, I will be transferring to University of Oregon with a major in Marine Biology, most likely towards field work and lab work with large marine mammals. There are a couple reasons why I would like to get into the marine biology. First, there is little representation of Native American students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field. I think that Native students can take their strong cultural background and their education to empower and strengthen themselves and their tribal communities. It's challenging for underrepresented minorities in STEM fields due to various reasons, i.e. no opportunities to attend college, no support, etc. I was thankful to come across a program that supports and encourages under represent minorities. While I attended Edmonds C.C., I was recommended the MESA Program (Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement), this program has helped me become confident in pursuing a PhD in Marine Biology but also giving back to the community and networking with other students. Second, I have such a high interest in marine biology because the ocean is the most undiscovered habitat on Earth and there is so much diversity to be discovered and studied, especially whale sharks! In the future, I would like to collaborate with Native American tribes and assist with the health of their tribal land, especially fisheries. I would also like to assist my own community on the Navajo Reservation, which would be a large animal veterinarian for sheep, horses and cow. I decided to apply to COSEE PRIME because I heard about it the internship through VerĂ³nica Guajardo, an Assistant Director for MESA Community College Program (WA-MCCP). This internship looked like an excellent opportunity to meet new people in marine science and network with professionals in the marine biology field.

The project that I'm participating this summer is with Dr. Waldo Wakefield, Research Fisheries Biologist - NOAA Fisheries and Mr. Matthew Yergey, Fisheries Biologist - Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. The project as described and titled on the COSEE PRIME internship website, "Characterization of the near shore soft sediment fish community of the central Oregon coast", during the late 1970s research was conducted by small-mesh beam trawl surveys of the Central Oregon coast, indicating a representation of Oregon's soft-sediment fish populations in waters shallower than 60 meters. A few examples of caught Oregon's soft-sediment fish species are Pacific tomcod (Microgadus proximus), English sole (Parophrys vetulus), speckled sanddab (Citharichthys stigmaeus) and most of the data collections of the beam trawls do include newly settled flatfishes as the dominant populations. Recent research done in 2008 to the present have supplied comparable surveys from about 30 to 100 meter depth to previous data due to similarities in sampling gear, methodologies, season and spatial coverage. Recent research has been contributing to the Nearshore Ecological Data Atlas (NEDA) for Oregon State waters. I will be working with another COSEE Intern, Matthew Mischke. We will be conducting data entry from the late 1970s small-mesh beam trawl surveys, analysis in the lab, and field work along the Oregon coast for sample collection and processing aboard a research vessel. I will also be participating in present surveys and conducting initial comparisons between the previous and modern data to characterize patterns of juvenile fish species composition in relation to season, location, bottom temperature, and type. 

The first week here at Hatfield Marine Science Center has been interesting to walk around the campus, meeting professionals and attending students who are working on various projects and programs. In my internship, I've been trained to input beam trawl data sheets from the late 70's to input into a program system called, Fisheries Oceanography Information System Ver. 1.60 (FIOS), where all of the beam trawl data is located.  This week was also the first seminar, Markus Horning, Associate Professor from the Marine Mammal Institute - OSU, I found this presentation to be interesting because it was a insight on why and how juvenile stellar sea lions mortality occur along the Alaskan coast. 

The following Saturday, the group visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The aquarium visit was engaging and we saw live marine organisms. Here are several pictures of the aquarium visit. 

Japanese spider crab
Moon jellyfish
Strawberry sea anemones  

Ochre star

Sand dollars

A tufted puffin!

A underside view of shark from Passages of the Deep

Thank you for reading!

Bridget B.

Reporting to you here, live from the post (week 1) - By: Cindyjo Keomani Boungnavath

Otter Rock
Cape Perpetua
Cape Falcon

Cascade Head
Redfish Rock

Images found at:

Mahalo to all!

I am Cindyjo Keomani Boungnavath and I attended Portland Community College where I most recently received my degree in the arts. As of now, I am exploring various educational and experiential opportunities. After my time here at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) I plan to continue further research as I volunteer abroad in international communities through the program International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ). I had applied for the internship here at the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) after my Meteorology professor had informed me about the opening. Because the ocean covers a near 76% of our planet, I find it essential to learn what we can about its mysterious beauty. This means that almost the entire world lives in an eternal darkness, and through a process called chemosynthesis, the sun no longer is necessary to create life. There now exists a new kingdom in which a life-system lives off the energy of the Earth, and solely that. I saw this internship as a means to educate myself in marine science and structures of the biologically diverse. I, at a very early age was enraptured by the thought of the deep sea and the different life forms that lived within its imperceptible walls. I live at the mercy to awe at such a stunning and exceptional world that I couldn't think of a better way to understand it but by interacting with it - and not only have mere thoughts of doing so.

Currently, I am working with Tommy Swearingen, the only social scientist within all the agencies here at Hatfield. We are working in conjunction with a team that composes the Human Dimensions Project where we assess the public's interaction with the Marine Reserves. Marine Reserves (MR) are zones within areas of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) where extractive activities are prohibited. Within Oregon, five Marine Reserves have been implemented at the start of January this year. Among them include: Cape Falcon, Otter Rock, Cascade Head, Cape Perpetua, and Redfish Rock. The purpose of all these efforts coalesce to reach the goals of: conserving marine habitats and biodiversity, insures the marine reserves against large-scale ecosystem change, and lastly serves as an opportunity for researchers to investigate. 

With the field-work that I do as part of the team, I collect data that will be used directly for data analysis to make hypotheses regarding the reserves. With each site, I analyze people's attitudes that are determined by their interactions with it and take into account what utility the reserve has for a variety of people. We do pressure counts, a rapid assessment strategy, in order to get a snapshot of the area and its general use. We then go on to perform intercept interviews where we survey visitors in order to generalize what values are associated with the reserve and their attitudinal perceptions of it. Being part of a team that works towards a goal that looks at the socio-economic effects that reserves have on nearby communities, it intrigues me to study the implementation of such and the strategies as well as logistics that go along with policy-making of this manner. It is a great time doing field-work and working with such a knowledgeable crew, each day has its rewards and I await the next. 



Tabby Keefer's First Week PRIME Experience

(Myself in front of ODFW's vessel)
I would like to start off by introducing myself. My name is Tabitha (Tabby) Keefer. I am from the central Oregon coast, and science is the biggest romance in my life. Here is some background information about me that has influenced the decisions and paths I have made for myself: I have been a volunteer at the Oregon Coast Aquarium for six years, and have a healthy obsession for the West Coast and ocean advocacy. For example, I have been working with the Aquarium for the past year to develop an ocean acidification (the decalcification of marine organisms due to human actions) mobile exhibit intended for most audiences.

Moving forward, I applied for the PRIME program for several reasons. I got an e-mail from my community college one day informing me about possible opportunities as a Hatfield intern. A few phone calls and e-mails later, Coral and Itchung had me hooked on the idea of an internship. Before I knew it I was accepted into the program. For me, it was a no brainer to apply.

I graduated from Oregon Coast Community College with my two-year transfer degree this last Spring. I am going to attend Oregon State University in the fall as a Junior, and my major [as of right now] is Environmental Sciences. As I mentioned before, ocean education is my primary focus at this point in my life.

I am working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife currently, so far this week I have received a dash of variety in my training. My mentors are Dr. Brittany Huntington and Stacy Galleher; these wonderful ladies have made me feel more than welcome upon my arrival. The department of ODFW I’m working with is focusing on Marine Reserves and Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s), I will explain more about this endeavor as the weeks progress and my understanding blooms. We are also working with sea star data, from before and during Sea Star Wasting, I will jump into more detail in the coming weeks.

(Stacy is on the left, and Neal is on the right; both women are part of ODFW -- I will discuss what's going on in this picture next week)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Matthew - Week 1

Hello, my name is Matthew Mischke and I am currently attending Chemeketa Community College (CCC) in Salem, OR. After I finish earning my AAOT in the Fall, I will be applying for OSU to transfer Spring term. There I plan to pursue either the Environmental Sciences or Natural Resources program, with an emphasis on ecology. I decided to apply for the PRIME internship because I am excited to have an opportunity to do some field work and see what scientific research is really like. I want to pursue science as a career but I want to make sure that it really is the right fit for me, and what better way to learn than experience? I received word about the program from my biology teacher Dr. Schramm, who praised it for the opportunities it gave her former students and the wonderful experiences they had. For me, the ecology of estuaries is one of the most exciting and interesting subjects in marine and aquatic sciences. The incredible biodiversity and aesthetics for that matter, are breathtaking and incredibly important to all kinds of lifeforms. I had no other plans for the summer besides taking classes, which could always be moved back, so I decided to take action and Dr. Schramm's advice and applied. 

Evidently, I made the right choice as I am now working with Dr. Waldo Wakefield and graduate student Matt Yergey, researching juvenile flatfish communities here in and near Yaquina Bay. This research is being conducted through NOAA and is part of a long term research project started in 1977 by Pearcy and Krygier to look at the life history of local flatfish. Findings have shown so far that flatfish are using the estuaries as a nursery and migrating out to the open coastal waters. My responsibilities have so far consisted of logging the previously collected data in new databases for further analysis, but starting in the next few weeks I should be able to assist in data collection aboard one of the research vessels. 

When I haven't been working at NOAA, I've had some time to explore the local estuary. Here are some pictures I took of the area and of a Great Blue Heron landing to do some hunting. I look forward to an exciting and fun few weeks here at HMSC.