Did you know there was a day set aside to celebrate oceans? I was not aware of this special day until last week. I was given an opportunity to participate in the event with EFTA interns Christine and Araceli. The best part? It was at the Oregon Coast Aquarium! We were given the task of managing two interpretive tables that focused on the western snowy plover (WSP) and the connection between marbled murrelets and coho salmon (the ocean and the forest). Upon arrival, all three of us were excited to be working in the aquarium. It was small, yet it contained a lot of great areas to explore. There were seabirds, shorebirds, fish, sea otters, and so much more. It took me a few minutes to get over my excitement and awe, and focus at the task at hand: education and outreach. The table was set and it was time to prepare for the incoming visitors.
Our themes gave us great material to help us engage and converse with our visitors. You heard me talk about the WSP before (I wrote a blog on field work related to the adorable beach bird), so I won’t mention it too much this time around. It’s such an amazing shorebird and a lot people loved it after hearing us talk about it. It nests on the open sand and is experiencing many challenges due to the invasive european beachgrass, habitats loss, and corvids (birds such as crows, ravens, and steller’s jay). It was a lot fun talking about the marbled murrelet and the coho salmon. The former is an amazing quirky seabird that travels all the way from the open ocean(up to 50 miles away from the shore) to the forest (up to 30 miles inland). It spends most of its life in the ocean and only moves to land for one special reason: breeding. A single egg the size of a chicken egg is laid by this bird (⅓ of the bird’s size!!). More specifically, the marbled murrelet requires large, old trees found in old growth forests for its nests. The egg is protected by the parents until it hatches, fledges, and leaves the nest. The marbled murrelet shares a similar reproductive story as the coho salmon. They both travel to the forest from the ocean to reproduce. However, the salmon is a little more dramatic due to fact that it dies after spawning. By doing so, it brings ocean nutrients into the forest and helps nurture the old growth forest. This creates a connection between the forest and ocean and highlights the interaction that each environment creates. We emphasized these organisms and shared threats they face and what the Forest Service is doing to ameliorate the situation.
At the end of the day, we had nearly 300 people visit our table. They each all left with knowledge on species they didn’t know about, and more importantly, they all left with stickers! We had lots of plover and Forest Service stickers to hand out. It was a blast talking to people and hearing their positive feedback on our tables. What a great way to celebrate World Oceans Day!