Viewing entries tagged
Oregon coast

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Bread Crumb Sponge

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When I was a wee child, my grandma gave me a sponge skeleton that she brought back from vacation. That was my introduction to marine sponges.

Since moving to Oregon three years ago, I've been familiarizing myself with the many species of EVERYTHING that surround me...including the many species of organisms that inhabit the Oregon coast tide pools.  If you haven't visited any tide pools on the Oregon coast, or even on the Pacific coast in general, you're really missing out.  There are so many species that you may miss because the tide pools are just LOADED with life.

One of my favorite tide pool spots is the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area just north of Newport, Oregon.  I had written about it not too long ago.  That's where I was when I captured this photo of a Bread Crumb Sponge (Halichondria panicea ).  This is one of the more common sponges found on the Oregon coast.  At first glance, you might think that it's algae.  It clings to the sides of rocks in the intertidal, looks a little slimy, and can be a variety of colors - green, orange, tan - and the yellow color as seen in this photo.  But upon closer inspection, you will notice little holes upon a tiny bump.  These are the pores of the sponge.  

So when you're checking out tide pools in the future, try to spot these beautiful overlooked organisms!

 

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Cape Lookout

One of the closest camping areas on the Oregon coast that I like to visit is Cape Lookout State Park.  Cape Lookout is just west of Tillamook (so you can pick up some cheese on your way there!).  I stopped to give these cute Jersey cows a pet instead.

 

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Cape Lookout is the middle brother of the infamous Three Capes Scenic Loop (which includes Capes Meares, Lookout, and Kiwanda).  This is the only one of those three that offers camping year round.  

I had camped here last year during the summer in the more open areas right along the beach.  Because of the weather, those spots weren't available so I had to settle for a spot in the forest.  Oh the tragedy of being surrounding by beauty.

This was a spontaneous adventure and I arrived around 11pm.  I chose a spot and threw up my tent in the rain by way of my car's headlights.  It poured that night and I really thought that my tent was going to wash away.  But I made it through the night.

I didn't know what my campsite looked like when I arrived, but I woke to found I was nestled in a lush forest covered with moss.  Sounds like the Pacific Northwest, right?   

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The fog was rolling in from the ocean and it's one of my favorite types of weather.  Add fog to anything and it makes a scene pretty spectacular as far as I'm concerned!   I made a stop at the head of the Cape Lookout trail, which was a pretty epic scene in itself.

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I wandered along the beach for a while and found some wooden pieces to a structure that I can only assume is debris from the Japan Tsunami.  Debris had washed up on the beach at Cape Lookout just last week from a Japanese temple.

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I discovered a huge patch of skunk cabbage!  As you may know, skunk cabbage can be pretty stinky, but when they're blooming in the springtime, they can be quite beautiful!  This patch exists in a coastal forest that had been previously effected by a forest fire.  It's possible that these skunk cabbage thrive in that environment.  Something in the soil is making them a bunch of happy little plants! 

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And yes that's me sporting a red Solo cup of wine for my little walk.

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One day on the Oregon coast

I had to make a trip to Corvallis earlier this week to meet with my accountant.  You know, that lovely time of the year when you give the government your arm and leg in taxes and leave weeping.  

I've begun to make the experience a little less stressful by coupling it with a trip to the coast.  South Beach State Park in the area of Newport, OR has been my go-to spot.  Camping in the forest on the coast with the smell of trees and the ocean...and the distant sound of sea lions...while sitting around a campfire.  This makes me extremely happy.

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My favorite tidepools on the west coast are just north of Newport at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  There's a beautiful historic lighthouse there, but some of the most amazing intertidal species can easily be viewed in this small nature sanctuary.

There are always a great number of sea stars, giant green sea anemones, and purple urchins.  If you look even closer, you will spot chiton, limpets, barnacles, mussels, and more.  On this particular trip I even had a short, rare glimpse of an octopus hiding out under a rock!

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As with all tide pools, you will want to visit during low tide.  The tide charts for this particular area can be found here.  If you happen to visit when the tide is coming in or going out, the rocks on the beach make a really cool sound when the water washes over them!  (My feet got wet--oops!)

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Be sure to also visit Quarry Cove on the way to/from the lighthouse.  At both locations, you will often have the opportunity to spot some really cute harbor seals!  And if you keep your eyes peeled, gray whales can often be spotted here....or even the rare orcas!  I've seen plenty of migratory birds and even nesting peregrine falcons.  So take your binos along for the journey!

Note that there is a fee for the Yaquina area, but it's well worth it as far as I'm concerned.  Because it's managed by BLM, it is free if you have a U.S. Parks and Recreation Pass

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If you head north from Yaquina, Devil's Punchbowl is another fun spot.  Not only are the views of the coastline quite amazing from the lookout, but so is the geology of the punchbowl.  When the tide is out, you can take a small hike to the beach and explore more amazing tide pools and the inside of the punchbowl.  When the tide is in, you can listen to the thunder of water entering the punchbowl as you watch from the viewpoint above.

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