First Impressions: Week 1 at Point Reyes National Seashore

It’s o-fish-al: I’ve just completed my first week as a Fisheries Technician Intern here at Point Reyes National Seashore (PORE). Between finishing the school year, embarking on my road trip from WA to CA, moving into park housing, and reporting for my first day this past Monday, it’s safe to say that it’s been a bit of a crazy week.

ROADTRIP: 1,030 mi, 21 hrs – Seattle (WA) to Beaverton (OR) to Salinas (CA) to Point Reyes (CA)

I left Seattle on Thursday (6/7) of last week, spending one night in Oregon, before continuing my journey to CA. Seeing as how I didn’t start work until Monday (6/11), I bypassed PORE and drove south to spend the weekend in Salinas and Carmel, CA. As much as I enjoyed relaxing and catching up with family and friends, I was eager for Monday to arrive so I could continue my travels to the park. Monday morning, I headed northbound through San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge (where I caught a glimpse of Alcatraz Island!), and into the wilderness that is Point Reyes National Seashore.

View of Tomales Bay from my housing; Photo by Katlyn Fuentes

THIS WEEK: marveling at wild animals & exploring the area

I moved into my housing accommodations on Monday – for the next 11 weeks I’ll be staying at a park property that faces Tomales Bay. The view (pictured above), is spectacular. My daily drive to and from housing to the park takes me through miles upon miles of breath-taking scenery where I’m greeted regularly by passing wildlife.

A non-comprehensive list of some of the animals that I’ve seen thus far:

  • 1 Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

    Cows from one of the historic ranches I pass on my daily commute; Photo by Katlyn Fuentes

  • 1 Coyote (Canis latrans)
  • 1 Botta’s Pocket Gopher (Thomomys bottae)
  • Western Fence Lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis)
  • Black-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) – Including two sets of twin fawns with their mothers
  • Hundreds and Hundreds of Cattle – I have to drive through farmlands to get to work, and the cows like to say “good morning” by standing in the middle of the path.

    A common raven spotted in Point Reyes National Seashore; Photo by Katlyn Fuentes

    .. for some reason they just don’t like to moo-ve 😉 – (pictured above right)

  • Common Ravens (Corvus corax) – (pictured right)
  • California Quails (Callipepla californica)
  • Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura)
Fun fact: The land that this park sits on (~100 mi²) is home to approximately 490 species of birds – that’s over 50% of all bird species found in North America! (source) I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time wrapping-my-head around there being so much biodiversity in such a relatively small area!

Prior to beginning this internship, I had never been to this area of CA, let alone PORE. After a busy week, I took time Saturday and Sunday to explore the park a bit – visiting Pt. Reyes Lighthouse (pictured below) and beach-bumming at Drakes Beach. Lucky for me, the weather was perfect: sunny, blue skies and no clouds. (For anyone planning on visiting the lighthouse in the future, though, I would recommend a jacket as it can be pretty windy over there and the weather can change quickly!)

Point Reyes Lighthouse in Point Reyes National Seashore, CA; Photo by Katlyn Fuentes

WORK: learning the ropes

At work this week, we’ve been preparing for the summer field season which starts this coming Monday (06/18). To better study coho salmon and steelhead trout – as well as the habitats in which they are found – the fisheries crew and I will be conducting a variety of different survey methods including (but not limited to): snorkeling, electrofishing, and habitat typing! To prepare, we’ve been going over safety protocol, survey-methodology, routine equipment inventory/maintenance, and wrapping up data-entry for last season’s smolt/redd surveys. I can’t wait to finally get in the water and see some fishes!

FORSEEABLE FUTURE: the summer “game plan”

Exploring Point Reyes National Seashore; Photo (of me) by Katlyn Fuentes

I’ve only been here one week and I’ve already seen and done so much! Moving forward, I’m excited to continue exploring the area and getting to learn more about the ongoing conservation efforts protecting these endangered and threatened salmonids! These coming weeks are sure to be filled with loads of new experiences, but I’ll make sure to continue my weekly blog posts so you can enjoy these experiences with me!

As always, if you have any questions or comments regarding my research and/or the work we’re doing at Point Reyes, feel free to leave a comment in the section below and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

Cheers,

-Katlyn

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Written by Katlyn Fuentes
Katlyn is an Aquatic and Fishery Sciences major and Anthropology minor at the University of Washington in Seattle. This summer she will be working as a Mosaics in Science intern with the National Park Service at Point Reyes National Seashore in California, assisting with the ongoing San Francisco Area Network Coho and Steelhead Monitoring Program. After completing this internship and graduating with her B.S., she plans on pursuing a career in conservation and management of natural resources.