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|
|Hatfield Marine Science Center investigated the potentially invasive species aboard the dock. Click to read more.|
June 7th - Floating dock from Japan carries potential invasive species
June 22nd - Species identified from the Japanese dock that washed ashore
Very fortuitous that this dock landed a couple miles away from the marine science center here with tons of ongoing research and experts in invasive species! This will be enough to keep them busy for a long time yet. As if they weren't busy enough already.
But that is not the focus of this post. This is:
|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|
|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.
Mossy ChitonChitons 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.
Gumboot ChitonThe 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|
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|
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!