Monday, February 12, 2018

The Beach Season has Started!

Friday was the start to our 2018 season! We are beyond excited! It honestly feels like Christmas morning to be back out on the beach everyday tide pooling, bird watching, and chatting with all the peeps! Our goal as an environmental education program is teach people about the ecosystem at Haystack and hopefully through that inspire stewardship! And honestly we love almost every second of it-when it is pouring rain and blowing sideways, it’s not quite as much fun! We get to be on the beach everyday because Haystack Rock is a National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Oregon islands, and the tide pools are a state Marine Garden! This all means that the area is fully protected! So with that there is a few guidelines we ask all visitors (and us) to follow: 
1. Walk on bare sand only. 
2. Do not take or peel off any live animals.
 3. All aircrafts have to stay further than 3000 meters from the refuge. 
4. All dogs must be on a leash. 
5. Anywhere about the high tide on the rock is part of the refuge and people are not allowed there. 

Yes, it is very important to go with those guidelines! Because if those are followed, everyone on the beach can have more fun and get to explore more! Haystack Rock is a living aquarium and is free for all to visit. 

Can't wait to see everyone out on the beach from now through October! Friendly reminder: our beach shifts may canceled if it too stormy to be out on the beach. Check our facebook page for updates! 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Citizen Science!

As we get closer to the summer months and the programs return to the beach, we of course are always looking for volunteers to come join us on the beach educating visitors. However, there is another way to volunteer with the program that is a ton of fun. We participate in multiple citizen science programs. Citizen Science means citizens just like you and I collect data and send it in to be analyzed by scientists.

One of my favorites that we do is the MARINE Sea Star Survey. For this survey we go out during a negative low tide and count every single Sea Star in the tide pools....just kidding. We have two different plots (one on the south side and one on the north) and we count all the sea stars just in those plots. We use flashlights to look deep in all the cracks to make sure that all of the teeny tiny juveniles are being counted. When doing the survey, we are looking at the size and health of each Sea Star and writing it down. Through collecting this data, MARINE can track what is going on with Sea Star Wasting Syndrome.

Another survey we do, is incredibly important, but not for the faint of heart. It is the COASST-Seabird Survey. For this, we go out on the first Friday of each month and count all of the dead birds on a half-mile stretch of beach in front of Haystack Rock. As we are counting we also tag them, and take measurements and pictures of them.

The next survey is all about live birds. At Haystack Rock, we are fortunate enough to have a pair of Black Oystercatcher nesting. So through the Audubon Society of Portland, we monitor their behavior. This includes things such as if they are preparing a nest, sitting on eggs, or mating. And if we are fortunate enough to have chicks again this summer, to monitor the growth of them. This survey is conducted May through August.

This next one is also all about monitoring live birds. It is the Audubon Society's Pacific Brown Pelican Survey. This survey does not occur as frequently but is incredibly fun. I mean who doesn't want to go out look at pelicans all day, I know that I do.

The last two citizen science programs that we participate in are all trash. The first is the CoastWatch Marine Debris Survey. For this one, basically all we do is walk the half mile above the Rock and pick up all the trash on the beach. We then report how much trash we picked up so we can compare it to other beaches in Oregon. The next is less of a survey. It is micro-plastic removal with Sea Turtle Forever. Once or twice a summer, in the dry stand east of Haystack Rock we use static charge screens to remove the micro-plastic that the ocean has dumped there. Recently, we have started using the micro-plastic picked up there to make jewelry out of.

We love doing all of these citizen science programs because we get to learn so much them and they are so much fun. If you would like to participate in these, please look at our calendar, contact us, and follow our Facebook.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Extreme Low Tides!

During the 2017 summer, the tides gave us the privilege of letting us go explore the backside of Haystack Rock four days in a row. It was a truly magical and life changing experience. As I find myself getting more and more excited for the 2018 summer season, I want to remind everyone who is planning a trip to Cannon Beach, specifically Haystack Rock, remember to check the tides first. If it is at anyway possible, try to come during a string of daylight low tides or even better negative tides. That way, you and whomever come with can see all of the coolest things in the tide pools, with us to explain what you are seeing. Here are some pictures from the days we were behind the Rock! 

All photo credits to: Annuka Brown (2017)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sunfish and Trash?!?!?

Even though our official time of the beach has come to an end, we are still plenty busy. Last week a giant Mola Mola (a.k.a. a Pacific Sunfish) washed up onto the beach. A few of our staff members went down to see it and take pictures. They even dissected the one of the giant eyeballs...for educational purposes of course! Come see us on the beach next summer, and hopefully it will be on display! If you would like to know more about the Pacific Sunfish, go read the Tidepool Tuesday post on Facebook. 

Now onto trash! In August, HRAP partnered with Sea Turtles Forever/Blue Wave to remove micro-plastics from the beach in front of Haystack Rock. We did not want to just put the plastic we removed back in the trash, luckily our outreach coordinator, Pooka, had an idea. She is turning the pieces into the most beautiful pieces of jewelry for people to wear. It started with a Discover Haystack Rock event, where we just filled glass bottles with them and tied a string around it. 


Since, then Pooka has created hand made bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. All of the pieces are one of a kind. None look exactly the same! We call this new project the Haystack Rock Trash Talk Project. Very soon, the Trash Talk pieces will be in some Cannon Beach Stores and even online. To keep up with updates on the project, go check out the Haystack Rock Trash Talk Facebook page. This is another super easy and fashionable way to support the program. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

And That's A Wrap!

Just like that the 2017 beach season is officially over! We did it! HIGH FIVE! After a summer full of educating visitors, rescuing injured birds, putting out educational materials for visitors to see, protecting the Black Oystercatcher family, spotting birds of all sorts with scopes and binoculars alike, participating in citizen science, building sandcastles, and having sooo much fun....the summer has come to a close. As we leave, there is little to see at wildlife refuge. Most of the pelagic birds, have long since returned to sea for the winter and will be back around April 1st! The majority of the Marine Garden is covered up with sand, so there is little to see in the tide pools!  I have already set my countdown for the beginning of the 2018 beach season!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Stormy Season!

With the beginning and ending months of our season, there tends to be a lot of canceled shifts due to storms! As a beach program, safety is one of our main focuses. So therefore anytime, there is a high surf, high wind, or anything of that nature-we cancel the shift. Sometimes, if staff gets to the beach and the ocean is surging a lot and they feel it is dangerous to be on the beach, the shift will be canceled at that time. Storms on the Oregon Coast are a mind blowing. If it is not something you have experience, I FULLY recommend visiting during one! Please remember to check our facebook page for updates on whether or not the shifts are cancelled! I know this only pertains for another few days this year, until we officially have out last beach shift, but shifts will most likely be cancelled at the beginning of next season too!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Farewell Puffins!

Well we have said goodbye to the puffins for the summer! They left us about the middle of August! Although we are sad to go, we know that they will return next summer to have more adorable pufflings. With the departure of the puffins, also led to the departure of all the other seabirds such as the Common Murres! We bid them happy winter sailing! If you need a puffin fix in the time being, we have Protect the Puffins Sweatshirts available today. Go see them on the beach to get yours!
A visitor with her brand new Puffin sweatshirt!
 You do not need me to tell you what this is! 
Pigeon Guillemots-a type of seabird that nests at Haystack!