Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tidepooling at Seal Rock

We spent a few days on the coast as part of a field trip through the online charter school we use for homeschooling. It was a great trip, complete with a 2-hour educational boat tour, a lab at the Marine Science Center, and spending a night in the shark tunnel at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. What I want to show you today is some photos from exploring some of Oregon's amazing tide pools. My kids have grown up with this and take it for granted, but we still find something fascinating every time we go. If you're in Oregon, Seal Rock is a few miles south of Newport, and is a wonderful tidepooling spot.

Here's the view from the top of the trail that leads down to the beach.

Wednesday morning was one of the lowest tides of the year. At high tide that closest line of rocks and all of the wet sand would be under water.

Once you descend to the beach, you can explore the rocks that spend most of the time under the sea, and the many animals that call them home. Chris took the photo below, looking back toward shore. The white crusty looking stuff that you see on the rocks in the foreground is a living colony of barnacles. They hang out inside their shells waiting for the tide to come in.

So much life in this picture. See it? 

I count 7 starfish (no--8, if you count the purple legs on the left) and at least 4 sea anemones (they look like green or pink squishy circles when the water is gone). Countless baby barnacles (they look like crusty white dots) are stuck all over the rock). If you sit and watch a pool for a minute the little fish and crabs start emerging from their hidey-places.

Below, you can see how the anemones start to emerge when the water flows into their home. There's one opening out, and then to the right is a closed one. If you touch your finger to the bright green part, you can feel the stickiness that is toxic to smaller creatures. Then they pull away from you, because they know you're not food.

Evan found a long piece of kelp and was dragging it along the beach for a while before we noticed all the shells stuck to it. The kelp isn't unusual, but I've never seen one on the beach with shells on it.

In this picture, we're watching in morbid fascination as the clam-like creatures stick out their little feelers and probe around, probably wondering what the dickens happened to their fancy condo in the kelp forest. Homeschooling at its finest! I was tempted to fling the kelp back to sea, in hopes that some of the critters could find a new home, but Chris reminded me that would be stealing some nice nesting sea bird mama's dinner. Circle of life, and all that.

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  1. I love the starfish photo, tho am also a bit freicked out as they look so big!

  2. What a fun day by the shore ... tidal pools are really interesting aren't they ?!?

  3. What beautiful photos!!! I am so envious! I'm really not an ocean person, but tide pools are definitely the exception to that!

  4. How awesome that you took your children to see all these sights. So many of my students see these only in books or on websites, if even there. Nature has wondrous beauty that we should all grow up to appreciate.

    The photos remind me of my home province of Newfoundland. It is filled with trees, hills, and lots of water. :-)