For nine consecutive summers we have non-invasively tracked gray whale movements with shore-based theodolites in Port Orford, Oregon, while offering internship opportunities for high school and undergraduate students. Throughout this internship, all students learn how to track whales with binoculars, a theodolite, and the associated computer program Pythagoras, as well as proper camera techniques for taking photo-ID quality images. They also learn how to kayak, how to navigate between stations with a GPS, and how to complete zooplankton net tows and GoPro casts from the research kayak. This internship gives students a chance to interact with scientists, as well as a taste for the realities of field research.
Ryan spent his internship conducting field work on a self-led abalone density project. North American abalone have a long and rich history being culturally significant in Asian, Native American, and American cultures. Abalone meat and its shells can signify status, a connection to nature, or be a subsistence food. Although this species is important to many peoples, it has been overharvested commercially and recreationally to the point where harvest is no longer legal. With these protections abalone are still at risk of extinction due to poaching, disease, and habitat loss. Ryan’s project was aimed at assessing red, flat, and pinto abalone densities on the Southern Coast of Oregon and to determine the current population densities, whether there is a density gradient with depth, if the gradient is more prevalent in smaller or larger abalone, and does mortality differ between abalone species? To answer these questions, Ryan conducted transect surveys in the intertidal, and shallow subtidal, and received data from Reef Check for their transect surveys at subtidal depths. The size of the abalone shrunk as the depth increased for red and flat abalone. Pinto abalone were only found in the subtidal, so no relationship was found. Abalone mortality was significantly higher in flat abalone compared to red abalone. These findings are important because the flat abalone of Oregon’s South Coast are dying off at a higher rate than the other species It is crucial that measures, such as habitat restoration, are taken to prevent further loss of this species.
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Aden was a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) intern from Bowdoin College, working on a research project investigating an optimal diet to foster urchin gonadal growth effectively, efficiently, and economically, thereby advancing both economic opportunities and ecological awareness for the preservation of marine ecosystems. Aden was responsible for designing and executing feeding protocol as well as routine maintenance and urchin sampling.
Sof Fox – Sof was an Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar working on science communication and marine reserve interpretation with the Redfish Rocks Community Team. They spent the summer developing and hosting a Junior Ranger program at the nearby Humbug Mountain State Park, guiding families in learning about marine reserves and the variety of life that inhabits Redfish Rocks. Sof also participated in sampling juvenile fish recruitment as part of a long-term monitoring project. Sof’s summer internship culminated in the Redfish Rocks on the Dock community event, which brought together various local organizations and community members in celebration of 10 years of marine stewardship, planned in collaboration with the rest of the Redfish Rocks Community Team.
Grant was the Marine Reserve Interpretation/Science Communications intern through the Redfish Rocks Community Team. Grant was a part of the SMURF project looking at juvenile fish recruitment in and outside of the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve. Additionally, as a member of the Redfish Rocks Community Team Grant helped to hold community outreach events and engage with the Port Orford community.
Caroline was another Oregon Kelp Alliance Intern. She is finishing her last term at Oregon State University this fall studying Integrative Biology with an option in Marine Biology and a minor in Marine Conservation and Management. This summer Caroline worked with the Oregon Kelp Alliance as an Oregon Sea Grant Summer Scholar. Caroline expanded upon a project she piloted last year to determine how fast purple sea urchins are returning to areas after culling events and whether kelp influences urchins to return faster.
Connor, a Stanford senior coterminal student, is completing his Biology B.S. and pursuing an Earth Systems M.S. focused on marine conservation. As an Oregon Sea Grant scholar at the OSU field station, he collaborated with the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve. Engaged in Port Orford's local ocean conservation, Connor's pivotal experience included sustainable fisheries and RRMR Community Team involvement. As a Marine Reserve Interpretation/Science Communications intern, he contributed to the SMURF project, studying juvenile fish recruitment, and played a key role in hosting the Redfish Rocks on the Dock event with over 20 community partners. Actively involved in community outreach, Connor fostered connections with the Port Orford community.