The past few days here in Oregon have been very laid back compared to the days of leaving campus at 5:30 AM to go to different field sites. We have been making small journeys to local beaches, but they have been quick, as we are all getting quite good at recognizing the wide range of organisms present here. We went to Bastendorf Beach two days ago and practiced using nets to try and catch shrimp—it was incredible to see how well the shrimp can camouflage themselves with the sand. Even though we were wearing our waders, we were all very wet from the waves splashing, so when Dr. Lord asked if any of us wanted to jump into the ocean, I said yes. In the summer when you first get in a pool, it takes a little bit of time to adjust to the sun-warmed water; out here in Oregon, the ocean water is an average of 55 degrees. Probably owing somewhat to the adrenaline rush and sheer ridiculousness of the whole idea, the water didn’t feel that cold and the few of us who went in actually swam around for a couple of minutes. Getting out of the water was the hard part, but luckily we had towels to wrap around ourselves and keep warm.
Later that night in order to help us study for our final exam, we played charades…but with marine animals. I don’t think it ever crossed my mind that I would have to try and act out being a “giant green anemone” or a “keyhole limpet,” but there’s always a first time for everything! Yesterday was dedicated solely to working on our final projects and also reviewing for our exam. It’s a little stressful, balancing out working on our presentation and interpreting our data while trying to study for the exam, but we have ample time to do both. I think we all know more than what we think, and when it comes to taking the exam, we will all breeze through it, as we’ve been interacting with the species for over two weeks now!
One of our last little trips today consisted of going to the sand dunes, which the 1965 novel was based off of! The sheer size of these hills is mind-boggling, and it is even more awe-inspiring to think that they’re completely made of sand. Of course, the first dune we had to climb was enormous and incredibly difficult to get up because we kept sliding down, as the sand was loose and not tightly packed. Once we all successfully made it up, we were able to see the landscape all around us in every direction, including a bald eagle soaring above us. The dunes were somewhat deceiving in size and it was hard to see their definition and elevation, which made for some stumbles and trips. We jumped, slid, somersaulted, rolled, and scooched down the dunes, all to crawl our way back up to do it again and again. I think I’ll be getting sand out of my hair and ears for a long time after this. After we had our fill of playing around, we traversed back across the seemingly endless sand and made our way back to the first dune. I’m pretty sure that Dr. Lord was trying to convince all of us to run down the dune, as it is steep and would be a real hoot to see us pick up speed as we reach the bottom; but I wasn’t planning on tripping and falling face-first into warm sand in front of everybody.
At the bottom, there was a large body of water, which of course, some of us went into. I went in both the ocean and today, and I can confidently say that the ocean water was significantly colder. We enjoyed a nice lunch picnic and soaked in the sun before returning to campus to play more review games and finish up our projects. I am looking forward to going home, but will definitely miss the atmosphere out here!