Day 3 of my internship here at Hatfield Marine Science Center, and it feels like I've been here two weeks, because that's about how much awesomeness and learning I've had, crammed into a very short amount of time!
Today we got to go to Yaquina Head tide pools at low tide which was dang freaking awesome! We climbed all over and saw a lot of neat stuff. On the drive up of course the first thing we saw was the dock washed up from Japan that everyone has been talking about and tourists come to see. It's just sitting down there on the beach.
Dock debris from 2011 Japanese tsunami, Newport Oregon
Yaquina Head lighthouse, Newport Oregon with tide pools in foreground
Now that's some beautiful scenery. I absolutely love the rocky Oregon coast! This area in particular is made of basalt. That means it was formed by volcanic activity - Yaquina Head used to be a volcano. I thought our guide said this was a possible old site of the Yellowstone Caldera, but I can't find any info backing that up, so I could have heard wrong. This site has a good summary of the geology of this location.
Basalt cobbles that give Cobble Beach its name
The beach where you go to the tide pools is called Cobble Beach, because
it's covered with basalt rocks. A local told me that if you come here at
high tide the waves pick up the rocks and as the surf goes in and out it
makes a really neat sound. Hoping to hear that for myself at some point.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Newport Oregon
The Yaquina Head lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Oregon. You can learn more about this and the Yaquina Bay lighthouses at this website.
Some awesome finds at the tide pools today:
Barnacles and mussels
The black shells are mussels and the white are barnacles
Rocks covered with mussels and barnacles
Fellow Sea Grant Scholar, Brian, showing us coralline algae
Coralline Algae gets is name because of its resemblance to coral
Coralline algae that has been bleached by the sun
Crabs (Red Rock Crab?)
Purple sea urchins - look closely, especially in the shadow- there are a bunch
Sea star in tide pool
Sea stars - the one on the left is eating
Sunflower Sea Star
Sunflower sea star and big red sea urchin- I altered the coloring of the picture so you can see it better
I loved seeing the sunflower sea star, perhaps mainly because I spotted
it on my own. Thanks to Planet Earth, I was familiar with this animal a
little bit from the cool time lapse of it trying to get hold of a brittle star for dinner. Here is the video- it starts out talking about the sea urchins that destroy kelp forests which is also cool.
Chitons look like potato bugs/ pill bugs/ sow bugs/ rolly pollies/ whatever you call them. But Chitons have 8 plates of armor, are marine, and are in fact mollusks, complete with a foot, gills, and mantle.
The gumboot is the largest species of chiton in the world - and we found one! That was an exciting find. Doesn't look like the other chiton right? Well this one has a fleshy covering over the bony plates, but when you touch it you can still feel them beneath.
Gumboot chiton - largest chiton in the world
You can see the gills here right below Brian's thumb. The light part in the middle of the animal is the foot, and the sides are the mantle
When disturbed, the gumboot chiton rolls up into a ball just like a potato bug
And lastly, up by the lighthouse we did a little bird watching and I got to learn a bit about the Common Murre.
I know, it's just a rock.... except that all those little black dots are birds
There were a few different kinds of birds on that rock and others nearby but the majority were the murres. Here's a closeup:
They look very similar to penguins as you can see. And in fact they are pretty poor fliers and can maneuver much better under water. I watched them fly and really they just kind of jumped off the big rock and awkwardly flapped their way down to the water.
The birds don't build a nest but just lay eggs right on the rock. These large rocks are like big isolated cliffs with sheer drops on all sides. But the eggs have a clever mechanism for dealing with this.
Common murre egg is in the middle
The shape of the egg allows it to roll in circles- so if it starts to go anywhere on the rock, it will turn and avoid disaster. Pretty cool.
That was an incredibly cool day! If you found anything helpful in this post, please leave a rating and a comment! And if you feel like it, join the site too. Thanks!
Those chiton things are gross. I've been to Newport and Yaquina Head. They are so beautiful! You got some really nice photos. Be sure to check your batteries every time so we can see all these great sights!ReplyDelete
The chitons do look kinda gross I guess. But they don't feel slimy or anything, they just feel leathery. And they curl into a ball when you pick them up! Who wouldn't like that? hahaReplyDelete
Thanks for the picture compliment. I try. :)