Friday, July 25, 2014

July 14th - July 20th 2014

Daily Tides

Monday, July 14th
Low Tide: -1.5' @ 8:52 AM

Tuesday, July 15th
Low Tide: -1.2' @ 9:35 AM

Wednesday, July 16th
Low Tide: -0.6' @ 10:20 AM

Thursday, July 17th
Low Tide: 0.0' @ 11:05 AM

Friday, July 18th
Low Tide: 0.8' @ 11:54 AM

Saturday, July 19th
Low Tide: 1.5' @ 12:48 PM

Sunday, July 20th
Low Tide: 2.1' @ 1:48 PM

Notes from the week

Our big news this week comes from the Saddle, where the Black Oystercatchers were seen taking turns warming a pair of eggs. The pair lost their chick earlier in the season, so we're delighted to see that they're giving family life another try. If the eggs hatch, the chicks will be fed by their parents for about a month, and will stay with them for as long as six months.

  A black oystercatcher guards the nest. 
     Photo: Susan Glarum

HRAP staff took advantage of the relatively low tides on Monday and Tuesday to conduct sea star counts.  The data collected will be sent to the Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Monitoring Network (MARINe), which is organizing such counts along the West Coast to monitor the effect of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome. Like many sites along the West Coast, sea stars at Haystack Rock have been hit hard by this mysterious ailment (check out for more information).

The weekend was a busy one: on Friday, we were visited by a group of high school students from the Portland Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization's Upward Bound program. On Saturday, we had our highest visitor count of the week: 183 people exploring the intertidal, visiting the Needles, and using the spotting scopes. That evening was our annual Summer Potluck for staff and volunteers, where we got together to eat burgers, compare baked bean recipes, and learn more about coastal ecology.

Creature Highlights

While this wasn't a week filled with particularly low tides, we still managed to see some less abundant sea slug and crab species, like Leopard sea slugs, Red Rock crabs, a Sharp-nosed crab, and a Granular Claw Crab (pictured below).

The Granular Claw Crab. 
Photo: Susan Glarum.  
A close relative of the hermit crab, this "warty little crab" has an unusually fleshy abdomen and grows up to 2 cm long. 

On Wednesday, we found a small White Sea Cucumber on the north side of the rock. This cucumber is common on floating docks as well as in the rocky intertidal. Like many sea cucumbers, the White cucumber will eviscerate itself-- eject its guts-- if handled roughly. This is bad news for the cucumber, but great news for the specialized parasitic snail that lives in its gut cavity, which is now free to infect other cucumber guts.

The White Sea Cucumber can grow up to 10 cm long, but is secretive and hard to spot. 
Photo: Susan Glarum.


  • Black oystercatcher (Haematopus bachmani). Seen with two eggs! (See above.)
  • White sea cucumber (Eupentacta quinquesemita) (See above.)
  • Leopard sea slug (Diaulula sandiegensis)
  • Red rock crabs (Cancer productus)
  • Sharp-nosed crab (Scyra acutifrons)
  • Shaggy mouse nudibranchs (Aeolid papillosa)
  • Granular claw crabs (Oedignathus inermis)
  • Decorator crab 
  • Porcelain crab (Petrolisthes eriomerus)
  • chitons
  • Purple sails (Vellela vellela)-- While their bright purple bodies have decomposed, their sails are still present on the beach. See last blog entry for details and pictures.
  • Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) pup


Elphick, C., Dunning, J., Sibley, D. (eds) The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, 2nd ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.

Kozloff, E. Seashore Life of the Northern Pacific Coast: An Illustrated Guide to Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, 3rd ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1993.

Friday, July 18, 2014

June 30th - July 6th 2014

Daily Tides

Monday, June 30th
Low Tide: -0.2 @ 9:23 AM

Tuesday, July 1st
Low Tide: 0.1' @ 9:53 AM

Wednesday, July 2nd
Low Tide: 0.4' @ 10:24 AM

Thursday, July 3rd
Low Tide: 0.8' @ 10:58 AM

Friday, July 4th
Low Tide: 1.3 @ 11:37 AM

Saturday, July 5th
Low Tide: 1.8' @ 12:23 PM

Sunday, July 6th
Low Tide: 2.2 @ 1:18 PM

Notes from the week

Sunny, warm weather kept visitor counts high in the week leading up to and over the holiday weekend. Our highest visitor count was on Saturday, July 5th with 268 people exploring the intertidal at one time. The City of Cannon Beach offers visitors a relief from the craziness of the 4th of July, and helps to protect the nesting birds at Haystack Rock, by celebrating with a Fireworks Free holiday. Over the weekend, Friends of Haystack Rock participated in the festivities by sponsoring the Great Cannon Beach Puffin Watch. Volunteers were out with spotting scopes and binoculars Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings, educating the public about the unique habitat and birds that Haystack Rock hosts. Visitors were delighted to see our iconic Tufted Puffins perched in front of their burrows and out flying around the Rock. Other sightings included Pigeon Guillemots, Pelagic Cormorants, Common Murres, and even some fluffy Wester Gull chicks! Staff and volunteers we also out during our regular low tide beach shifts, guiding visitors around the intertidal and showing off some of the exciting tidepool creatures! HRAP also participated in the annual 4th of July parade in downtown Cannon Beach - strutting, hopping, and flapping down the road!

Friends of Haystack Rock board member Gary Hayes interacts with visitors during Puffin Watch. Photo by Susan Glarum.

Staff and volunteers decorating a City truck for the Independence Day Parade!
Photo by Susan Glarum.

Volunteer Bobby Skibber dons the rhinophores of an Opalescent Nudibranch - representing one of our iconic interstitial creatures for the 4th of July Parade!
Photo by Susan Glarum.

Creature Highlights

  • Common Murre (Uria aalge) - spotted flying with fish in its beak
  • Tufted Puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) - multiple sightings of adults returning to their burrows with fish, which means there are Puffin chicks at Haystack Rock!
  • Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba) - chicks spotted in nests!
  • Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) - lots of chicks seen on the Rock and Needles
  • Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) - regular sightings of adult and juvenile eagles hunting and capturing other birds at Haystack Rock
  • Brow Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) - seen at the Needles and flying over the Rock
  • Purple Sails (Velella velella)  - thousands of these jellyfish washed up along the North Coast of Oregon on Sunday, July 6th
Photos from Haystack Rock

Did you see the thousands of little, iridescent, plastic-like discs that washed up along the north coast of Oregon this week? Some may have been clear and others slimy, blue. Those discs are actually a type of animal commonly known as Purple Sails (Velella velella). These small jellyfish have a clear "sail" that protrudes above the surface of the water, catching the wind and pushing them across the ocean. A strong west wind will blow them ashore, stranding the animals on the beach. They'll become food for other animals or dry into the characteristic sails seen in the picture above and below - taken by staff interpreter Nadine Nordquist. Unlike many other jellyfish, Purple Sails do not sting but capture their prey in small, sticky tentacles. Reaching 4 inches in length and 3 inches in width, Velellas feed on fish eggs and small planktonic copepods. A stranding of this magnitude is uncommon but not unheard of.

Pigeon Guillemot adult and chick, photo by staff interpreter Susan Glarum

 Pigeon Guillemot chick, photo by staff interpreter Susan Glarum

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

June 23rd to June 29th 2014

Daily Low Tides

Monday, June 23rd
2.3' @ 4:16 PM

Tuesday, June 24th
-0.5' @ 5:31 AM
2.5' @ 5:09 PM; ended early due to no exposure

Wednesday, June 25th
-0.7' @ 6:18 AM
2.6' @ 5:58 PM

Thursday, June 26th
-0.8' @ 7:01 AM
2.7' @ 6:44 PM

Friday, June 27th
-0.8' @ 7:40 AM
2.7' @ 7:28 PM; cancelled due to weather

Saturday, June 28th
-0.6' @ 8:17 AM
2.7' @ 8:09 PM; cancelled

Sunday, June 29th
-0.4' @ 8:51 AM

Notes from the Week

Tufted Puffins (Fratercula cirrhata)

There were a lot of sightings of Tufted Puffins during the week. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Volunteer Interpreter Jay Bukalski even reported seeing two Puffins delivering fish to their burrows - which means there are chicks in there!

The largest of America's puffins, the Tufted Puffin is the only one that nests on the Oregon coast. It is a pelagic seabird spending most of the year at sea far from land and returning to land in April to nest and raise their chicks. When they arrive to the coast, pairs of puffins excavate burrows on soil-covered cliffs or islands. The deep soil, grass covered portion of Haystack Rock makes it an ideal nesting spot for the puffins. The female will lay a single egg in the burrow then for 45 days both parents will incubate the egg. After the egg hatches, the parents stay busy feeding the chick. Their foods of choice include squid, fish, marine worms and shrimp, but when feeding their chicks they tend to focus on fish as the food of choice. The parents dive beneath the waves, propelling themselves with their wings up to depths of 200 feet.  The chick will spend between 38 and 60 days in the nest; the duration is dependent on the success of the parent's fishing! When the chick fledges, it will leap from its burrow into the water and is then on its own. It will return to open ocean, typically at least 60 miles off shore, to return in April to start the cycle again.

Tufted Puffins tend to stay in their burrows, making them hard to spot. However, when out of their burrows, their black body, large orange bill, orange feet, white face, and yellowish feather tufts on their head make them very distinctive. In the air, they flap their wings frantically, distinguishing them from the majority of other seabirds at Haystack Rock.

Tufted Puffin ... on the Rock!
Photo by Lisa Sheffield

Tufted Puffin ... on the Water!
Photo courtesy of Pelican Productions

This coming weekend, July 4th - July 6th,  is the Great Cannon Beach Puffin Watch. This seabird watching weekend is sponsored by Friends of Haystack Rock as part of a fireworks-free weekend in Cannon Beach.

The highest visitor count for the week was on the 23rd with 169 in the mid-afternoon.

Creature Highlights


  • Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) - Oystercatchers at the rock were again mating.
  • Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) - The bald eagles continue to visit the rock to hunt.
  • Pigeon Guillemot (Cepphus columba)
  • Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus
  • Tufted Puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) - There were a lot of sightings of Tufted Puffins during the week. Jay Bukalski even reported seeing two Puffins delivering fish to their burrows.
  • Giant Green Sea Anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica) - The anemone had a feather in it's 'mouth'. Anemones will attempt to digest anything that gets within range. The feather was covered with Pelagic Gooseneck Barnacles, which only live on debris floating in the ocean. So, before washing up in the intertidal, the feather had been adrift on the ocean for awhile. 
  • Pelagic Gooseneck Barnacle (Lepas anatifera) - The barnacles covered a feather that was in the grasp of a giant green sea anemone.
  • Dungeness Crab (Cancer magister)
  • Opalescent Nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis) - Several seen on the south side
  • Shaggy Mouse Nudibranch (Aeolid papillosa) - Seen on the north side

  • Orca  (Orcinus orca) - At least two Orcas were seen in the waters around Haystack Rock, very near the shore. The Orcas were identified by the large dorsal fin above the waves. 

Photos From Haystack Rock

Giant green sea anemone with a barnacle encrusted feather; Photo by Alix Lee

Orcas in the waters just off Cannon Beach; Photo by visitor Pat Brown

Orca spouting just off Cannon Beach; Photo by visitor Pat Brown


Swanson, Sarah and Smith, Max. Must-See Birds of the Pacific Northwest. Portland, OR: Timber Press, Inc, 2013.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 16th to June 22nd 2014

Daily Low Tides

Monday, June 16th
-1.2' @ 9:56 AM

Tuesday, June 17th
-0.7' @ 10:43 AM

Wednesday, June 18th
-0.1' @ 11:33 AM

Thursday, June 19th
0.5' @ 12:25 PM

Friday, June 20th
1.2' @ 1:22 PM

Saturday, June 21st; shift lengthened to be on the beach before public parking for Sandcastle Day
1.7' @ 2:21 PM

Sunday, June 22nd
2.1' @ 3:20 PM

Notes from the Week

From the HRAP Program Coordinator: Sunday, June 22nd our oystercatcher chick hatched! If you look closely at Neal Maine's photograph below you will see something amazing, mother black oystercatcher with her newly hatched chick and a soon to be hatched egg. This and other evidence proves that there may have in fact been three eggs laid, not just one. A hatchling and potentially another chick is very exciting news, especially considering the state of the black oystercatcher population. But the challenge is not over yet! Chicks are even more susceptible to human and natural disturbances such as predation. Parents must leave their hungry chick to forage for food in the intertidal. And as Neal Maine reports, our newly hatched black oystercatcher is very adventurous.

From the HRAP Volunteer Coordinator: Every year the Haystack Rock Awareness Program works very hard to protect our black oystercatcher nest. Because of their small population size (less than 400 on the Oregon Coast and only 10,000 world-wide), restricted range, and sensitivity to human and natural disturbances, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the black oystercatcher as a “species of concern”. With an average hatching rate of 29% and only 13% survival rate to fledge, the black oystercatcher’s long term viability is unknown. Birds are sensitive to human disturbances, especially while nesting, and nesting success is crucial to maintaining healthy bird populations. While exploring the coast keep an eye out for nests and always observe nesting birds from a distance.

Black Oystercatcher and Chick; Photo by Neal Maine

The Sandcastle Festivities kicked off with a parade downtown on Friday evening, June 20th, in which HRAP coordinators, Staff interpreters, and Volunteers participated.  The 50th Annual Sandcastle Day was Saturday, June 21st. It was a beautiful day and there were thousands of people on the beach. The only day of the year the public can park on the beach, right by Haystack Rock, led to hundreds of people exploring the tide pools. The highest visitor count was on Sandcastle Day with 220 visitors during one hour in the mid-afternoon and a total of four hourly visitor counts near or above 200.

Parade marchers from left: Volunteer Jenee Pearce with Thane, Program Coordinator Samantha Ferber, Volunteer Coordinator Alix Lee with Paducah, Volunteers Autumn Warner and Gretchen DeMoss, and Staff Interpreter Cindy Bryden.

Photo looking South of cars parked on the beach, taken from the stairs east of Haystack Rock.

Sandcastle Day parking in front of Haystack Rock

Photo looking North of cars parked on the beach, taken from the stairs east of Haystack Rock.

Creature Highlights


  • Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) - Numerous nest exchanges were observed early in the week
  • Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) - Visits from bald eagles continue which included several successful hunts.
  • Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) - The pelican got very close to the rock and shore and flushed 10 murres.
  • Leopard Nudibranch (Diaulula sandiegensis) - As the name suggests, the nudibranch has brown ring-shaped spots that can range from light to dark brown on a white body. They can be up to 3 inches long and live in the intertidal to a depth of 115 feet.
  • Piddock Clam (Family Pholadidae) - Spawing in middle tidepools near refuge
  • Lion’s Mane Jelly (Cyanea capillata) - Seen in center tidepools
  • Sand soles (Psettichthys melanostictus)
Photos From Haystack Rock

The start of the week brought a beautiful double Rainbow to Haystack Rock; Photo by Nadine Nordquist

A perfect frame for Haystack Rock! Photo by Craig Davidson


Harbo, Rick. Whelks to Whales. Madeira Park, BC Canada: Harbour Publishing, 2006.