In the name of progress
Well, I could make a number of excuses as to why I haven't posted on here in three months (yikes!). But I won't. Somewhere between graduating from SDSU and moving to Santa Barbara to start a new job I managed to squeeze in a three-week trip trip to Peru. But now that the fun is over, I've managed to settle in nicely at NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. I have the honor and privilege of being a California Sea Grant State Fellow; for the next year I will be supporting the resource management and education/outreach programs at CINMS. And I couldn't be more thrilled about it!
As part of my Sea Grant fellowship I am required to submit monthly progress reports, which I'm happy to share here as well! Below is a brief synopsis of my first month with CINMS.
California Sea Grant State Fellowship
Monthly Progress Report
Reporting Period: April 2019
Name: Pike Spector
Agency: NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
This month (April) marks my first full month with NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) as part of the California Sea Grant State Fellowship. Most of this month has been split between front-end logistics for the commencement of the fellowship year with CINMS, and my contributions to the ongoing efforts of CINMS.
Sanctuary Advisory Council Meetings
The end of my first week with CINMS (March 2019) marked the first bi-monthly Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) meeting of the 2019 calendar year. Due to the partial government shutdown, the council’s January meeting had to be canceled. Hence, the March meeting was even more exciting. As part of my responsibility to support SAC meetings, I helped organize refreshments for the meeting, as well as assisting with the set up and break down of the meeting space and associated technical equipment. Further, I assisted outgoing Sea Grant Fellow Lindsay Marks with audio and written recordings of the proceedings of the Council, and I ultimately compiled a written draft of the meeting’s key outcomes, which will be dispersed to the council. In preparation for the March meeting, I attended the Conservation Working Group meeting (a subcommittee of the council) and began interfacing with council members.
In preparation for the next SAC meeting (May 2019), I have begun coordinating the reservation of the meeting space. Further, I synthesized the “Topics of Interest” worksheet assigned to council members, in order to better serve the needs of the council for the 2019 calendar year.
Outreach and Education
Part of my duties as a fellow with CINMS will be to help facilitate the outreach and education programs facilitated by Sanctuary staff. Throughout the last month I have attended several conference calls related to the Long-Term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students (LiMPETS) program. Over the course of the fellowship I will help the program staff at CINMS review LiMPETS protocols in an effort to better manage this program.
During this month I have participated on two education cruises aboard CINMS’s vessel r/v Shearwater. The first cruise was in collaboration with a field methods course from Santa Barbara City College; we hosted over a dozen college students and exposed them to several marine monitoring sampling techniques. To enhance the student’s learning, I used a connection to Bay Area based Sofar, makers of publicly accessible remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), who participated on the cruise with two of their ROVs. During the cruise, we set up stations and allowed the students to “fly” the ROVs in seagrass meadows. The students were delighted by the real-time video of the marine environment, which we broadcasted on monitors in the Shearwater’s dry lab and wheelhouse; I was responsible for managing the wheelhouse station while the Sofar team managed the dry lab station. The success of this cruise has opened the door for future collaborations with Sofar, which I hope to implement during my fellowship.
The second cruise I participated on was with a group of middle school and high school science teachers. Like the first cruise, we used the Shearwater as a mobile laboratory around Santa Cruz Island. I was able to set up an ROV station on this cruise as well, and gave the teachers the opportunity to “fly” the ROV in a kelp forest. The teachers, like the students on the first cruise, were delighted by the ROV’s ability to immerse them in the subtidal environment from the comfort of the research vessel.
Though not strictly part of my fellowship plan, I was invited to participate on a collaborative project with CINMS and the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC). In conjunction with researchers from SWFSC, I joined two other researchers from CINMS to locate, and ideally, tag basking sharks within the Sanctuary’s waters. Once seen in great numbers, basking sharks (the second largest fish in the ocean) are now incredibly rare in CINMS and are poorly understood by fisheries scientists and managers. I was honored to be part of the team that tagged two sharks; so far, only four sharks have been tagged in the north Pacific (in 2010 and 2011).
To showcase this momentous effort, I have helped draft a “Web Story”, which will be posted on the Office of National Marine Sanctuary’s website, as well as on the SWFSC’s website, later this month.
A large part of my fellowship year will be spent working on the redrafting of CINMS’s 10-year management plan. As this process begins to ramp up, I have participated on several conference calls related to the redrafting of the management plan.
A vital component of my fellowship year will be to actively update CINMS’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. These activities help engage the community and increase awareness around the Sanctuary’s goal of protecting the Channel Island’s natural and cultural resources. I typically post ~2-3 times per week. So far, I have received positive feedback on my posts.
Working under the auspices of a federal agency has meant a lot of front-end logistics need to be taken care of before I can fully integrate into CINMS’s system. This month I have received my @noaa.gov email address, my building security card, and my common access and identification card. These tools have helped ease my transition into CINMS’s office and help legitimize my position as a fellow with CINMS.
During this month I have also participated in a number of in-house staff meetings and have attended NOAA webinars relevant to my fellowship and academic/social interests.
Pike Spector is currently a Research Operations Specialist with Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary