Today was quite out of the ordinary from what we’ve been used to out here in Oregon. We all woke up to the realization that the power had gone out, not only on the OIMB Campus but in all of Charleston! This was also a day where the tides were lowest mid-morning, rather than at the crack of dawn. We set out at 9am to the South Cove at Cape Arago, which was the initial field site we visited here in Oregon. Today we started returning some of our critters that we had been collecting because our tanks in the lab were getting full. We released massive starfish, angry crabs, and a large sum of dorids back into the ocean. We decided that during this time in field we would only collect species we hadn’t identified yet and attempt to leave with less than we came with. We were semi-successful, bringing back some new nudibranchs and chitons.
I didn’t think that coming back to a site we had already visited would be very exciting but I was able to recognize how much knowledge I had gained about marine life since the beginning of this course. The first time out at South Cove I was so concerned with slipping on the rocks with my waders and touching yucky sea critters. Today I recognized how confident I had become with exploring marine life and could see through new eyes that could spot a gumboot chiton from a mile away. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still spooked by the thought of picking up an angry rock crab but now I can confidently flip over a rock and identify whatever is underneath it.
After collecting our specimens from this site we hiked up the dreaded path to our van, noticing once again how much I’ve changed from day one. All those early mornings and workouts in the dunes and mudflats had made me stronger in just over a week (don’t be fooled, I still stopped along the path to catch my breath and take in the view overlooking the cove, but only once this time!). I’m not looking forward to the day we say goodbye to OIMB and all the lovely community members of Coos Bay. This course has been one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had through Moravian College and I’ll treasure every bit of it.