Out West student blog

Fogust at its Finest

Elephant seals on the beach.
While harbor seals dive right in the water, elephant seals always look back.

By Jaclyn Marcatili
B.A., International Relations, 2016
Historic Preservation Intern at Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Fogust is for real. I’m grateful that I conducted most of my field work in June and July so that I could use this foggiest of months to work mostly on recording and processing the data that I’ve gathered. The data includes photographs, UTM coordinates, sketches, and measurements of a multitude of anti-aircraft positions around the park. While the ambiguity that I discussed in my last blog post absolutely remains, I think I have learned to find a joy in that challenge rather than being entirely frustrated by it as I was at the start of this internship. I am leaving behind for my colleagues a report on all of the sites that I’ve visited, fruitful or not, to highlight all of the ambiguity involved. I’m also suggesting the sites that I think could be great examples for the interpretation team to tackle so that park-goers can learn the context of these structures that they stumble across on almost every trail.

Even though my job involves hiking in one of the most breathtaking areas of the bay area, working on a single project can become tiresome. Luckily, I’ve had many days that break the monotony. On one of those days, I accompanied my supervisor on a surveying mission. There will be some reconstruction done on the torpedo wharf between Crissy Field and Fort Point soon, which meant it was time to call in the archeologists to see if there’s anything that the construction crews should avoid. We hired some contractors to see whether anything at the bottom of the bay around the wharf was made of metal, which would indicate the need to handle it carefully. I was glad to have an excuse to be on a boat in the bay for the first time! While doing a million figure eights and going back and forth in choppy waters to cover as much surface area around the wharf as possible was not necessarily the most comfortable for me, the beautiful trip to and from Sausalito made it worth it.

Another day off from my main project was when I accompanied our neighbors, the Marine Mammal Center, to Point Reyes for a seal release. They released four harbor seals and two elephant seals on a small beach near an elephant seal rookery. It was all over in about five minutes, but still a heart-warming afternoon (see photo above for proof).

Finally, there was the day we held a seminar with students from Chico State who have been examining the bones that were found at Fort Mason half a year ago in the midst of a lead remediation project. The students presented on the forensic aspects of the bones, including calculations that they’ve done on the minimum number of individuals represented in the collection, the most likely number of individuals, how they conducted pair matching, how much pathology was present in the bones, etc. My colleagues presented on the historical research they’ve done on the who/what/when/why there was a pit of seemingly random bones outside what used to be the hospital at Fort Mason. Right now they have a compelling story that still sounds a little speculative to me, so I won’t relay it here. I’ll let your imagination run wild instead.

And just like that, the summer is over! I’m going to take a long walk this afternoon and then bid good-bye to the Headlands for a little while. After watching friends travel the globe and lounge by the pool following graduation, I’m ready for my post-summer break now, just in time for some warmer weather in San Francisco. Perfect timing if you ask me.

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