Today a man hurried toward the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) truck to tell us he'd "found a stingray." Maybe a bat ray? Or a skate? When I arrived at the tidepool that held the mystery fish, only the eyes in the photo were visible. A juvenile skate seemed plausible. An egg case, or "mermaid's purse," of a big Pacific skate had washed up on the beach nearby not long ago. I imagined I could see the shape of the creature's "wings" and stingray-like tail beneath its camo
The first sea slug I saw at the ocean's edge was an opalescent nudibranch, Hermissenda crassicornis. I have since spotted many nudibranch species, but the opalescent is still my favorite. This is one gorgeous slug. And not only does this dazzling mollusk spread color through the tidepools, it also adds intrigue. Lacking the shell of their snail relatives, sea slugs have developed clever ways to defend themselves. When the opalescent nudibranch consumes poisonous prey like hyd
I found this three-level limpet world adrift in the current, like a planet that had escaped its star. The larger limpet has smaller limpets on its shell; one of the smaller limpets is host to an even tinier limpet. So, a limpet is attached to a limpet that is attached to yet another limpet--which presumably came loose from a rock (or it came loose from an even larger limpet attached to a rock). The scarcity of hard surfaces in the intertidal zone accounts for this multilevel
Like most schoolkids, I learned that starfish regenerate arms. Recently I read that a severed arm of some species of starfish (or sea stars, as scientists prefer to call them) can grow a whole new sea star. Can the species under siege from sea star wasting syndrome regenerate their numbers to repopulate the intertidal zone of the Oregon Coast? Just a few years back, ochre sea stars, Pisaster ocracheous, covered the coast in countless numbers. Now it is a rare day at Haystack
“It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.” —John Steinbeck Tidepooling at night is appealing for several reasons: solitude, nocturnal creatures, and stars. As each star in the universe harbors worlds, each tidepool holds a universe within its waters. Along a sandy shoreline, the Rings of Saturn are referenced in a shell.
There are few tidepool creatures more otherworldly than the alabaster nudibranch, Dirona albolineata. Today I watched an alabaster turn upside down so it could walk its foot across the surface tension at the top of a pool. I've seen other nudibranch species do this walking-upside-down trick, but with its translucent body and glowing white lines, the alabaster made this strange form of locomotion look particularly surreal.
Today I collected an intact but dead sea nettle jelly, Chrysaora fuscescens, about one mile north of Haystack. The nematocysts of sea nettles can still fire venomous harpoon-like needles after the creatures are dead; I used my jacket to shield my hands. I tried returning the beached jelly to the ocean but it failed to revive, so I transported it to Haystack to show visitors. Then I put it back at the ocean's edge, where the churning surf tore the gelatinous corpse into fragme