Scientists of the South Slough: Researching the dynamic waters of the estuary
By Morgan Krakow & Ty Boespflug

David Sutherland (above, left) studies ocean physics. He’s an oceanographer. He takes his graduate students out to the Coos Estuary to help them research and study the area. On an Oregon Institute of Marine Biology boat, the crew of three set out for a day of collecting sediment samples, as well as data about salinity, turbidity, temperature and other water properties.

Postdoctoral student, Emily Eidam, holds the Conductivity, Temperature, Depth instrument. For her research, she’s taking sediment samples from around the estuary to understand the varied sediment from soft and muddy, to rough and sandy. Originally from Alaska, she is Sutherland’s newest graduate student.

“[Estuaries] filter.” Sutherland said. “They sort of are this buffer between the ocean and the terrestrial world, the land world.” Broadly, they’re trying to understand how the ocean and river waters mix here, as well as the change in sediment.

Masters student, Ted Conroy, writes down geographic points of where the boat is for each sampling. Conroy grew up surfing along the California coastline and was drawn to this type of study. He wanted to further understand oceans and their movement. He and Sutherland are putting together a model of the estuary that helps run simulations to better understand the dynamics of movement in the estuary. It’s similar to a weather model, and these different data points help make it more accurate.

.As soon as the team got on the water, the boat’s gas tank started to hover between the last line and empty. Sutherland was relaxed about it, continuing on for several hours in the hazy morning without running out of gas. He brought along Swedish fish and sparkling water for the team. They gathered samples as the boat floated in the dynamic waters, before pulling back into OIMB.

 

 

Scientists of the South Slough: Researching the dynamic waters of the estuary By Morgan Krakow & Ty Boespflug
“[Estuaries] filter.” Sutherland said. “They sort of are this buffer between the ocean and the terrestrial world, the land world.” Broadly, they’re trying to understand how the ocean and river waters mix here, as well as the change in sediment.