Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Summer of Great Memories at JBH

Hannah performing a stomach lavage on a Chinook
It is my last day working for CRFPO. I am Hannah Harper, one of the STEP students working for Jeff Johnson at Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge. I have had a wonderful summer working for this office, and would like thank everyone here for making this such a great experience. I have never worked in such a friendly and hard-working office.

I have so many great memories of this summer.  Taylor, Jordan, and I always had fun even when the work got dirty and tiring. When the fish counts started dwindling, we started a game to see whose net would catch the greatest amount of fish, and points were assigned for different species. For example, three spined sticklebacks were only worth 1 point, whereas salmon were worth 15 and any other species were worth 5. We also had a lot of jokes about poop (there was almost always some in the net), and once I was even caught in a “poop trap” when Taylor covered some in sticklebacks to trick me into picking it up. As Jordan stated, there’s nothing like a good old fashioned poop trap. Even around the office, I had a great time. Just this week, I got to test out a game for Donna and Jen, and Donna helped me take the work truck to the carwash. It was my first time ever driving a car through the carwash, and it was quite the adventure. Hint: don’t take field trucks to the Chevron carwash.

Top:  Net of sticklebacks and rough-skinned newts
Bottom:  Juvenile Chinook

Taylor dragging the canoe under a fallen tree at Steamboat Slough (Donna's favorite)
At large Welch Slough with Jeff, Taylor, and Donna

        Not only am I taking away great memories, but great experiences as well. I am a senior at UW studying Environmental Science and Resource Management as well as Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences. I graduate and begin my job hunt in December, and the experiences that I have had here will be invaluable. Not only have I gained practical experience in habitat surveys, fish identification, seining, etc., I have also learned more about how to ask the right questions and set up a project.  Jeff has helped me develop and gather data for my fisheries senior project, which I will complete this next quarter. Since not much is known about dissolved oxygen (DO) in the sloughs, he suggested that I look at diel patterns of DO to see if levels drop below the threshold for salmon at night when there is no photosynthetic supply of oxygen. We decided that I should look at one slough that is essentially unconnected from the Columbia River and one that is connected through a tide gate. So for about 3 weeks, I got up an hour early every morning and stayed out an hour later after work. I am not a morning person, and I must say that it was very difficult to drag myself out of bed an extra hour early. But once I was up, I enjoyed it; I got to see many beautiful sunrises.  Finally, my work was all made worth it on Wednesday when I entered it into the computer, graphed it, ran some preliminary statistical tests, and saw the results I was expecting (and hoping) to see. The DO in the tide-gated slough is much more stable, whereas the DO in the unconnected slough is highly variable and drops below critical levels several times. I will combine this information with the temperature and fish data that we have gathered throughout the summer.

Sunrise at JBH

Sunset at the bunkhouse

Submitted by Hannah Harper

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