Meet the summer 2022 interns from the Port Orford Field Station!

Brook Ashcraft – Brook was an Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar with the Oregon Kelp Alliance, focused on kelp forest restoration efforts. She organized a restoration event at Chief Kiawanda Rock in Pacific City. Free Divers and SCUBA divers engaged in purple sea urchin removals to promote kelp forest recovery there as part of an Oregon Kelp Alliance kelp forest restoration project. Brook also conducted a study of the reproductive health of purple sea urchins at Drake Point, another potential kelp forest restoration site located at Cape Arago.

                                                                                                                                                                           Photo: Lynn Ketcham

Caroline Rice – Caroline was a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) intern from the College of Science, studying purple sea urchin return rates as part of an experimental kelp forest restoration project. Caroline worked with fellow AAUS diver Faith Townsend to clear urchins from an area of Nellie’s Cove, then conducted a series of drop camera surveys to measure the return rate of purple sea urchins. Understanding this will be an important part of the kelp forest restoration efforts now underway.


Faith Townsend – Faith joined us as a Marine Reserve Interpretation/Science Communication Intern, supported by the Redfish Rocks Community Team, with a focus on juvenile fish recruitment. Faith is a certified AAUS Scientific Diver and used her skills to support several research projects during her internship, including dives to swap out underwater cameras for the GEMM Lab team, deployed to capture video of gray whales feeding. Faith also worked with Reef Check to conduct surveys at Nellie’s Cove, and Pyramid Point, and supported other student intern projects in the field.

Paola Buentello - Paola was a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) intern from Portland Community College, working on an Oregon Sea Grant research project to co-culture purple sea urchins and dulse, an edible red seaweed. This project aims to test the commercial potential for “fattening” undernourished purple sea urchins from urchin barrens as part of kelp forest restoration efforts. Paola was responsible for measuring the growth of uni, or sea urchin gonads over time as they were fed dulse - results demonstrated significant growth.

Photo: Lynn Ketcham

Jacquelynn Nguyen  - Jacquelynn was an Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience (OASE) intern, working on the Oregon Sea Grant research project to co-culture purple sea urchins with dulse. Jackie’s work focused on testing water quality parameters to measure the amount of waste products produced by cultured sea urchins to ensure they were not above acceptable thresholds. This will be essential for any commercial operation, and we were pleased to learn that at low stocking densities used for the experiment, the dulse was able to absorb the waste products from the urchins. This project will continue into a second year.

Photo: Lynn Ketcham

Big Whale Energy – We joined the GEMM Lab in celebrating 8 years of gray whale foraging behavior research with team Big Whale Energy! Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences Masters student Alison Dawn led the 5-person team. Alison was joined by REU intern Zoe Sax, GEMM Lab intern Nichola Gregory, and two high school interns. This year’s HS Interns were Coquille HS graduate Luke Donaldson and Bandon HS graduate Charlie Ells. Luke is on his way to the OSU Cascades campus this fall, and Charlie will be attending the University of Oregon this fall. The team observed an increase in gray whale sightings this year compared to last and spotted some familiar whales like Port Orford favorite Buttons!

From left to right: Tom Calvanese, Zoe Sax, Nichola Gregory, Luke Donaldson, Dr. Leigh Torres, Alison Dawn, Lisa Hildebrand, Charlie Ells (in front of sign).


Tate ScarpaciMSI Marine Reserve Interpretation/Science Communication Intern. Tate’s internship focused on the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve and Marine Protected Area, and the importance of juvenile fish recruitment to the local commercial fisheries. Commercial fishing is the economic driver for the Port Orford community, with a significant portion of landings in the live fish fishery. Many of these high-value species of rockfishes are dependent on kelp forest habitat as both juveniles and adults, and Tate took part in sampling of juvenile fishes as part of this internship. Tate’s final project was a video describing this important relationship. Watch it here