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image of Oregon coast, rocky shoreline, gray cliffs and pine trees

Oregon Trip Winding Down

May 24, 2018

Intertidal ZoneI am the only non-science major that came along on this trip to the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB). I say that to encourage students of all backgrounds to open their minds to new things, and not to hesitate when thinking of taking courses that are not directly related to their majors. Our trip to Oregon thus far has been nothing short of amazing, and I am incredibly happy that I had the opportunity to go on it; it is definitely an experience I will remember for the rest of my life! 

Mussels growing on the docksWe have spent almost two weeks now in Oregon, and the things we have been able to see are breathtaking. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The diversity on the West Coast is drastically different from that of the East, both in species and terrestrial formation. Some things are similar on both coasts: for example, the barnacles and mussels look virtually the same, except on the West coast, they are numerous times larger than their counterparts on the East coast. (they can easily grow to be as long as your hand, see picture).

As a class we have been able to identify and study countless species. We have seen multiple species of crabs, huge sea urchins (both purple and red), an octopus, sea stars of all different sizes and species, sea lions, harbor seals, gumboots, sea slugs of all different colors, multiple species of anemone, too many different species of worms to count and so much more. (Pictured is a lemon sea slug that I found).Lemon Sea Slug



Today we did not travel to a site in the field, as unfortunately our trip is quickly coming to a close, and it is time for us to dedicate more time to our experiments. I am working in a group with Mark Hahn and Austin Grace, doing research on black turban snails. As a group we hypothesized that larger snails will have larger feet. A simple proposition. We further hypothesized that the larger the snail, and the larger the foot, the more force it would take to remove the snail from whatever it had its foot attached to. We have spent the last few days gathering snails and testing our hypothesis. Fortunately enough, for our group, our hypothesis seems be supported by our data. We have found a positive exponential correlation, which shows bigger snails, require more force to be moved off of whatever they are suctioned to.

Sea LionsYesterday we went to the sand dunes, which was my favorite day of the trip this far. Mark Hahn documented this in his blog post yesterday; I definitely recommend checking out his post for more information about the dunes and some really cool pictures! The sand dunes here in Oregon were breathtaking, it seemed like they stretched and stretched for miles and miles. My favorite part was riding down the dunes on a board, similar to surfing or snowboarding. It was such a blast! I had so much fun and would recommend sand boarding for everyone to try. Sand boarding was incredibly tiring however; the sand was very loose, and it required a lot of energy to keep climbing back to the top. Everyone was exhausted after only one or two runs. If there was a gondola on the dunes, I am not sure Dr. Lord would have been able to get me to leave.Austin Sandboarding

All in all, I am having an amazing time in Oregon, and am sad to see it come to a close so quickly. I am already looking forward to my next trip out West. Lastly, I just want to recommend this trip to anyone and everyone next year. It has been filled with a lot of hiking, rock climbing, great views, amazing educational experiences, and of course sand boarding!

Click HERE to read the entire Oregon Trip blog series!