Leather Stars!

In the tide pools at Haystack Rock, there is a ton of different creatures to discover and fall in love with. Without a doubt, the crowd favorite is ALWAYS a Sea Star (more common known as Starfish). Sea Stars are part of the Echinoderm family, meaning that their closest family is Sea Cucumbers and Sea Urchins.  Worldwide there is approximately 1,600 different species of Sea Stars. At the Rock, the most common species we see is the Ochre Sea Star. These guys come in both orange and purple; and are covered all over in white dots.

On special, unpredictable, days different species of Sea Stars turn up in the tide pools. Today was one of those days...we found a single LEATHER STAR this morning. Leather Stars in rare at Haystack Rock, even though they are considered a common species. They live on the west coast of North America from Alaska to Southern California mostly in rocky shore habitats and sometimes in harbors attaching themselves to pilings. Leather Stars favorite things to eat are …

Are they Nudis, Nuribranchs, or Sea Slugs??

As I sat down this morning to write this blog, I had a complete lack of inspiration. So I began going through the nature notes from the beach and I noticed that there was a ton of notes about different types of nudibranchs sightings and it clicked.

This brings me to the title of this post: nudis is just a nickname for nudibranchs and nudibranchs are the technical term for sea slugs. AND THEY ARE OUR FAVORITE CREATURE EVER! More often than not, our educators are searching for nudis when they are out in the tidepools. They are shell-less mollusks that come in all colors and patterns. Worldwide there is approximately 2,000 different species of nudibranchs. Their life span is around one year, some species can grow up to one foot in length, and they are carnivores.

Here are some of the most common nudis we find at Haystack Rock:
Sea Lemon 
Shaggy Mouse 
Red Sponge 
Remember to keep an eye out for these special guys next time you are tide pooling and…

Birds of Prey!

Hello all! First of all I want to apologize for two posts in a row about birds but I could not help myself. Not that long ago, I was sitting at a viewpoint south of Cannon Beach whale watching. As I was sitting there, I noticed a falcon like bird flying in circles near me. I did not think much of it until I looked to my left where this large rock was and on one of the cliff edges was sitting a second falcon. At this point, I turned with my binoculars to confirm what I thought I was seeing. I was right, sitting within fifty feet of a PEREGRINE FALCON. As I watched a little bit longer, it eventually dove off and disappeared down the cliff; leaving me completely in awe.

Since this day, I have been doing some research on peregrine falcons. They are the largest falcon in North America and comparative in size to crows. They can be found all over the continent but typically prefer to be near the coast, which is good news for us. When they dive for their prey, the falcons can reach up to 200 …

All the birds are back!

Our absolute favorite time of the year is finally here! Officially all of the birds that nest at the Rock have arrived and are here to stay for the rest of the summer. The Pigeon Guillemots, Common Murres, Cormorants, Black Oystercatchers, Tufted Puffin and some others all make up the majority of the nesting bird population. From personal experience, I understand that it can be incredibly overwhelming to come to the beach in search of puffins and learn that there is so many species of birds to identify between. That is why we are here! We want to show you the difference between the Common Murres (which look like tiny flying penguins) and the Tufted Puffin; both of which look very similar while in flight with their similar size and fast wing beat. Since the Tufted Puffin are the claim to fame bird at the Rock, I wanted to give you a few tips to be able to see them!
1. Come in the morning time. Its hard to give an exact time, but with a rough guess I would say anytime before 10:00am.  2…

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 p…

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 goi…

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)