Monday, March 27, 2017

Spring, Sprang!

Spring has sprung at Haystack Rock and with it volunteer and staff Environmental Interpreters are finding loads of eggs and tiny juvenile recruits of different types. There have also been very interesting sightings of more precarious types that come with warmer weather; read our HRAP "nature notes" to learn more....

Tidepool Sculpin, Oligocottus maculosus, eggs

 Bright yellow Tidepool Sculpin, Oligocottus maculosus, eggs can be found among the barnacles and mussels, often above the tide pools during low tide. Sculpin can vary in color from red-brown to green  and can grow up to 9cm long.

Acorn Barnacle, Balanus glandula, recruits

 Tiny, juvenile Acorn Barnacle recruits dot the intertidal like adorable polka dots. These animals have small, white volcano-like shells and are very common in the tide pools at Haystack Rock and elsewhere along the Oregon coast.


Barnacle Nudibranchs, Onchidoris bilamellata, and eggs

Highly camouflaged Barnacle Nudibranchs can be seen amongst their eggs (the white, ribbon like blobs) as well as barnacles, anemones and snails. You can, again, see many barnacle recruits in this picture.

Ochre Sea Star, Pisaster ochraceus

Ochre Sea Star, Pisaster ochraceus

Juvenile sea stars can be seen around the intertidal as of late. While sea star populations continue to be low due to the shock of the devastating sea star wasting event which began in 2013 and resulted in over 90% species loss (at Haystack Rock), we are hopeful that some of these juveniles are building up immunities to the virus and are adapting to their ever changing environment. This particular species of sea star, which is most common at Haystack Rock can grow up to 25cm and is generally purple or orange.

Lead Environmental Interpreter, Kari, rescuing a Common Murre, Uria aalge

The picture above is a common site once nesting season begins at the rock (March - September) -- staff and volunteers often rescue injured or malnourished sea birds that are found on the beach. If you ever happen across a sea bird on the beach, it is most likely injured or needing some type of assistance; notify your local Police Department (non-emergency number) or Wildlife Center and they will generally respond promptly.

Other random fun notes from our "nature notes" (scribed from our daily beach log) this past week that are just too good to leave out:

March 21st: "2 sea stars in garden, large pyrosome's, nudibranch ribbon eggs, eagle came and failed, very windy, osprey flyby at start of shift"

March 24th: "Kite boarder south of needles catching air off waves. Super windy and sideways rain. Left beach early due to nasty conditions and lack of visitors. No common Murres"

March 25th: "Peregrine at top of rock, Western Gull caught crab, baby stars in high intertidal, tried rope along north and it seemed to help, heard Black Oystercatchers down at needles, huge north swells, Canadians and Portlandians visitors"

March 26th: "No murres.  One female homo sapiens, skinny dipping north of ''Rock". Murres showed up at 4:00, about 200. Opalescent Nudibranchs in South pools and opalescent swimming upside down, shaggy mouse, ribbon eggs, babies on back wall. Went over to needles to pull guy off rock and there are SEASTARS EVERYWHERE!!"

Have a murre-velous day!
--Tuff the Tufted Puffin


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Nudis, Hail, and Decoy Ducks

What's new at the Rock these past few weeks? Glad you asked! Not only has the weather been completely and utterly unpredictable, but unique animals and marine debris have been making appearances.

On March 1st, Environmental Interpreters, Gina and Kari, spotted opalescent and barnacle nudibranchs which can be seen in the pictures below.


A Barnacle Nudibranch, Onchidoris Bilamellata, hiding in the center/left of the picture above, is among barnacles and anemones and has most likely just laid the egg mass seen in the upper left portion of the image.


The beautiful Opalescent Nudibranch, Hermissenda Crassicornis, pictured above, was seen on March 8th as it relaxed in a tide pool, soaking in the calm morning low tide.

Interpreters, throughout the past two weeks, saw HIGHLY variable weather patterns, causing high wind, surf, and surge warnings. In the image below, check out the hail covering the beach at Haystack Rock (and awesome staff and visitors still out tide pooling in the crazy weather!).


The blustery and rough weather brought in more pyrosomes, Pyrosoma Atlanticum, as well as a decoy duck covered in barnacles, found by interpreters Kari, Alan and Gina on March 4th. Fun note: don't bring in marine debris and leave them in the staff office unless you like being unpopular amongst your coworkers. ;)




Many of our beach shifts have been cancelled the past two weeks because of stormy weather, but it seems as if Spring may soon be gracing us with some calmer weather. We'll keep our webbed feet crossed!

-- Puff, the Tufted Puffin


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Watch Out Prey - They Sting!

Alan Quimby was the lead interpreter on the beach on May 16, 2016 and spied an Aggregating Anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima) and a Shore Crab in close proximity in the tidepools.

The aggregating anemone is an invertebrates that looks likes a flower, with a tube shaped body capped by tentacles. Colored anemones have algae living in their tissue in a symbiotic relationship. The anemone bends away or toward the light to facilitate the light level needed for photosynthesis in the algae; it return, the algae provides food to the anemone.


Aggregating Anemone

Anemones eat a wide variety of food, using stinging cells on their tentacles (called nematocysts) to paralyze their prey. They can even ingest small crabs and discard the shells. Perhaps that is what happened to the shore crab on this day as the crab must have gotten a little too close and appeared to have been paralyzed  by a small aggregating anemone.


Paralyzed Shore Crab

The anemone is abundant on the rocky shore and can almost always be seen in the tidepools at Haystack Rock. If you have visited Haystack Rock multiple times, you have probably noticed that the sand can drift from week to week and even from day to day. The anemone can easily be buried by the drifting sand but can survive up to 3 months under the sand.

Anemones retract their tentacles when they are exposed to the air. Sand and bits of shell cling to sticky bumps on their body which provide both camouflage and protection from drying out. The anemone is less apparent in this state, frequently blending into the rocks to which they are adhered.


Aggregating Anemone

Next time you are at the rock, take an opportunity to admire the 'flowers' of the tidepool. The beach season at Haystack Rock has now started and we look forward to seeing you on the beach!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Haystack Rock Field Trips

Haystack Rock is a great destination for field trips. The Haystack Rock Awareness Program provides educational field trip programs that integrate observation, investigation, and exploration. In 2016, HRAP hosted fifty-two educational programs on the beach for students of all ages, reaching over 2100 students.

On June 10th, 2016, HRAP hosted a group of grade-school students. That day was rainy, windy, sunny - everything the Rock can be - but most importantly - educational! The students had a great time exploring the tidepools and learning about its inhabitants guided by HRAP interpreters.






If you are interested in scheduling an educational group visit to Haystack Rock, visit http://www.ci.cannon-beach.or.us/hrap/page/teachers-planning-field-trip for details on scheduling a visit. The beach season will begin on February 13th and planning is already underway. We hope to see your group on the beach this season!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

What is That Scurrying On the Sand?

August 8th was a cloudy day with a few sprinkles in the morning at Haystack Rock. Katie Corliss, lead interpreter, along with three additional interpreters were on the beach for the 1.5 ft low tide at 11:13 am. Over five hundred visitors experienced the Marine Garden during the five hours the interpreters were on the beach.

Katie captured a great video of mole crab activity in the sand. In the genus Emerita they are crustaceans commonly known as mole crabs, sand crabs or sand fleas. Related to hermit crabs and stone crabs, the mole crab spends much of its time buried in the sand. It is well camouflaged by its gray shell, burrowing quickly and frequently into the sand. The crab lives in the area of breaking waves, moving up and down the beach with the tides. It feeds by filtering tiny plankton from receding waves using a sweeping motion of an antenna. Check out the video of the crabs scurrying in the sand and burrowing in.

video



Mole crabs are less that 2 inches in length and can be found along the entire west coast of the US from Alaska to Baja California. Their life span is rarely more than 2 to 3 years and they can reproduce in their first year producing bright orange eggs. Next time you are at the beach, look closely down at the sand near the tide line for these scurrying crabs.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Opalescent Nudibranch In The Sand

Today we look back to August 3rd on the beach. Gina Palmer was the lead interpreter on the beach for the 1.4 ft low tide at 7:46pm. It was a sunny afternoon with a NNW winds between 15 and 25 knots. The opalescent nudibranches, typically found under the boulders in the central pools of Haystack Rock, were today out in the sand.


Opalescent Nudibranch 

The opalescent nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis) is an invertebrate that resides in the intertidal rocky shores from Baja California to Alaska. They grow to about 3 inches, subsisting on a diet mainly of hydroids, but will also eat small sea anemones and bryozoans.  A nudibranch lives for a maximum of one year and is hermaphroditic. It's eggs are laid in narrow, coiled strings attached to eelgrass or algae. 

The opalescents are a colorful species of nudibranch, having bright orange areas on their back with a blue line on each side. Next time you're in the intertidal zone at low tide - anywhere on the west coast -take a look in the sand or under boulders for these colorful invertebrates!

Friday, October 28, 2016

That's A Wrap on the 2016 Beach Season


On October 27th we officially wrapped up our 2016 season on the beach. We're still working on our final counts, but as of September 30th, we've interacted with 98,500 people this season both on and off the beach and hosted 52 educational programs on the beach. Now that's an epic season!

HRAP Staff and Volunteers finished the season with an 'End of Season Cleaning and Storage Party' on the 28th. The HRAP trailer was emptied and the equipment cleaned and stowed for the winter.




Planning for the 2017 Beach Season is already underway and we'll be back on the beach in February.


We'll be revisiting the 2016 season on the blog this winter. Check back in with us to learn about the season from the perspective of the HRAP Interpreters.