Today was one of my favorite days in Oregon so far! We started off our day heading to Lighthouse Island which we have been before, but this time we were able to actually go on the island since the tide was so low. When we got closer to the island, we discovered an adorable surprise: a dark grey harbor seal with her pup which had to have been about a month old. We probably spent about 30 minutes watching her trying to get her pup into the water since she was slightly startled by us. The baby seal really struggled hobbling and plopping its way into the water. We eventually moved on and crossed the rocks to make it to the island where we came across more harbor seals, sea slugs, urchins, crabs, and many more species that we identified in our field guide.
After lunch at the OIMB cafeteria (which has really set the standard high for The Star), we ventured out to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. These dunes are located on the coast, and I never imagined how far these sand mountains spread (about 40 miles!). When we were on top of the mountains, you only saw the slim glance of ocean and then massive sand mountains everywhere. To get to the top of the first hill, Dr. Lord said he would give us $5 for the person who can sprint up the entire hill. Most of us lined up and took off. It took about a quarter way up for us to either fall or stop running. We traveled through the dunes, and found a perfect hill to throw ourselves off and spiral down the mountain. Dr. Lord showed us the perfect technique to avoid getting hurt, but have the right amount of thrill in the sand. We were covered in sand trekking back so some of us decided to jump into the small lake that was near where we parked the van. We swam around and attempted to get the sand off of us before we headed back to base. Overall, this was a memorable day in Oregon, and I am dreading returning to the east coast. This experience has really helped me realize what I would like to do with my career path, and I cannot be more thankful toward Dr. Lord for showing us the west coast’s marine biodiversity.