This week, we headed up to work at the Oregon Coast Aquarium! Every summer, our field rangers have a chance to go to the aquarium at least once, to table on behalf of the Siuslaw National Forest. As it is an EFTA related event, me and SCA intern Darielle met up with our other EFTA intern Brenda to table together for our forest. The Hebo ranger district where Brenda is an intern is part of the Siuslaw National Forest, so we focus on the same threatened species. She brought some of the materials for research done in Hebo, and we brought some from Cape Perpetua. We met up in the morning and set up for a day of meeting with the aquarium guests.

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Our table was centered on our “Ocean to Forest Connection,” focusing on our bird species, the marbled murrelet, and the western snowy plover. These two birds are important species here on our national forest, as much of the wildlife research done on the Siuslaw focuses on the protection of these threatened birds. The marbled murrelet is a sea bird that nests in the old-growth forests found on the Siuslaw, and the western snowy plover is our open-shore nesting bird living on the beaches of the Oregon coast. When we table about the connection between the species, the ocean, and the forest, we want to show the guests all the different ways they utilize the forest. The marbled murrelet is a bird I have not yet spoken about here, so I’ll give you a bit of a lesson on these birds. They spend most of their life out at sea, but when they’re ready to nest, they come into the forest and look for old-growth trees with large patches of moss. The moss not only helps for their inability to land properly on tree branches but also for the creation of the nest, as the moss acts like a cup for the egg. They fly up to 60 miles out to the ocean to find food for their chicks, multiple times a day.

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Corvids, which are the family of birds containing stellar’s jays, crows, and ravens, are a threat to the marbled murrelet. These birds are incredibly smart and have learned to follow humans into the forest, in search of our food waste. The food that we throw away, from wrappers to organic waste, attracts these birds further into the forest in search of more for them to eat. Throwing away an apple core or a banana peel does the same amount of harm as your wrappers because these birds eat the food waste, and are able to survive and grow larger population numbers. This wouldn’t be a problem if they did not disturb the habitat areas of the murrelet. Once the corvids finish off all of our food, they move on in search of another food source: marbled murrelet eggs. Because of the size of the eggs and energy that goes into having this egg, the murrelet only lays one, and if it is predated on, they will not lay another for the nesting season. Because of the single-clutch, the marbled murrelet is at a critical state because of its numbers. But in time, hopefully, the researches on the Siuslaw can come up with a solution to help sustain the population.

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We spent a few hours talking to the visitors before we packed up our table and headed home. This was my first experience officially tabling at a center like this on behalf of the forest service. Interacting with the public here was a more engaging experience than some of the previous tabling sessions because the guests came to the aquarium to learn. They came up to the table intending to learn and ask questions about what we were presenting. We had over 200 contacts just in the few hours we were there; that’s 200 people that left the aquarium with the knowledge of something they may not have known about before. I do not know how many will look further that the information we had at the table, but my hope is that even just a few of them decide to continue learning about the murrelet, and the ocean to forest connection.

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