Summer at Friday Harbor Marine Labs



Julie enjoying the sunset with friends and looking out for orca whales at Lime Kiln.

The summer after my sophomore year I enrolled in the Marine Invertebrate Zoology class at Friday Harbor Labs in beautiful Friday Harbor, Washington. I’ve always had a strong interest in Marine Biology, but I was never sure if it was a career path for which I was truly destined. I enrolled with the hopes that a real life, hands-on experience in Marine Biology would help give me a clearer picture for my future. The program at Friday Harbor is run through the University of Washington so I was able to earn credit towards my biology major here at Clark. Through my courses with Professor Robertson I’ve become much more familiar with the marine biota of the East coast; so I chose this course because it allowed me the opportunity to become familiar with the biodiversity of the Pacific Northwest. My class was lecture, lab, and fieldwork based. Basically, it was a total immersion in invertebrate zoology- 35 phyla in 5 weeks! I had so much fun and I was in the lab constantly, sketching and dissecting every animal without a backbone that I could get my hands on!

An octopus we caught while trawling on the research vessel.

I made some really great connections while at the labs; my professors were both well-respected experts in their fields, and many of my classmates were PhD students in university labs across the country. I formed strong friendships with people from all over the world, and through them I learned a lot about the process of getting a PhD and what it would be like to pursue a career in marine biology. As a bonus, Friday Harbor, Washington is unbelievably beautiful- the stars are as bright as the bioluminescence in the harbor! From the labs we had a spectacular view of Mt. Baker, and every day I saw bald eagles, deer, raccoons, harbor seals, and sea otters. In short, I highly recommend taking a summer course if you are still unsure about your future career path, or if you would just like the opportunity to get out, see the world, and get some hands-on experience! I know I will remember this summer for the rest of my life!

Every summer the Invertebrate Zoology class hosts the Invertebrate Ball and everyone from the labs comes out to celebrate dressed as their favorite invertebrate. I’m Melibe, a hooded nudibranch (sea slug) that smells like melon when removed from the water!

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