Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Haystack Rock Happenings

It's been another great week at Haystack Rock. Our beautiful Marine Garden has been protected by the Haystack Rock Awareness Program for 30 years, ensuring that each new generation can enjoy the marine life and nesting birds that call Haystack  Rock home!

Haystack Rock at Low Tide
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Propst

There are a number events in the coming weeks that will inform and educate you about the history of HRAP and opportunities to get involved. Consider joining us for one or all of these events.

Welcome the Tufted Puffins

On Earth Day, Wednesday April 22nd at 10 am, the Tufted Puffins will be welcomed back to Haystack Rock by children from local schools. Haystack Rock Awareness Program interpreters will be on the beach from 7:00 am to 1:30 pm.

Thirty Year Anniversary Exhibit

The Cannon Beach History Center & Museum and Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock Awareness Program have partnered to celebrate HRAP's 30th anniversary. For thirty years, HRAP has valiantly protected the delicate ecosystem of Haystack Rock. The exhibit celebrates the program's aspects of "educating, protecting, and inspiring." HRAP is a professionally staffed and volunteer driven program. The exhibit will explore the tide pools through the eyes of those who have dedicated their lives to the protection and preservation of Haystack Rock. The exhibit will be on display April 18th through June 18th. Don't miss this fabulous show!

Volunteer Training

A spring training session for HRAP volunteers will be held on Saturday April 25th. This is an opportunity to open your eyes to natural wonders and prepare to become a volunteer at Haystack Rock. You will learn about interpreting to the public and the geology, nesting birds, and intertidal life at the rock. The training will be held at Cannon Beach City Hall (163 E Gower St) from 9am to 2pm. 
RSVP by email: hrapvolunteer@ci.cannon-beach.or.us or phone: 503-436-8095

Gull in the exposed Intertidal at Haystack Rock
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Propst

We look forward to seeing you at one of these HRAP's events or on the beach!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Protecting Oregon's Coast and Sea

Anyone who has driven Highway 101 through Oregon knows the coastal landscape - headlands, sandy beaches, tide pools and clear, cold ocean water - are simply stunning! The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife both have roles in protecting the natural beauty of our coast and their viability as habitat for local flora and fauna.

Oregon Rocky Shores

Rocky shores are a defining feature of the dramatic 360-mile long coastline of Oregon. Tidepools, cliffs, rocks, and submerged reefs support an ecologically rich and diverse ecosystem at the boundary of the land and sea along 161 miles (41%) of Oregon’s shoreline including 82 miles (21%) of rocky intertidal habitat. The US Government defines a Marine Protected Area (MPA) as “any area of the marine environment that has been reserved by Federal, State, territorial, tribal or local laws or regulations to provide lasting protection for part or all of the natural and cultural resources therein.” In Oregon there are three specific MPAs that are part of Oregon's Rocky Shores: Marine Gardens, Research Reserves, and Habitat Refuges There are 15 designated sites along the Oregon Coast that are protected.

Marine Gardens are specially protected areas in which it is illegal to collect any marine invertebrate (except single mussels for bait). Collecting seaweed and other marine plants is not allowed in marine gardens. Gardens are areas that are targeted for educational programs that allow visitors to enjoy and learn about intertidal resources. The intertidal of seven areas are designated as Marine Gardens: Cape Kiwanda, Otter Rock, Yaquina Head, Yachats State Park, Cape Perpetua, Harris Beach State Park, and our own Haystack Rock. Educational opportunities are available daily at Haystack Rock at daily low-tides throughout the Spring and Summer.

Marine Garden: Haystack Rock 
Photo Courtesy of Carolyn Propst

There are two kinds of Research Reserves, subtidal and intertidal. They have been designated to allow for scientists to reliably obtain rocky shore information over time on natural variations and changes in the marine environment. These areas are used for scientific study or research including baseline studies, monitoring, or applied research. These areas are generally closed to the take of shellfish and marine invertebrates, except that scientific take permits may be issued for scientific and educational reasons. Collecting seaweed and other marine plants is not allowed in intertidal research reserves. There are 2 subtidal research reserves: Pirate Cove (Depoe Bay) and Gregory Point (Cape Arago) and 5 intertidal research reserves: Boiler Bay, Neptune State Park, Cape Arago (Area B), Brookings and Cape Arago (Area A&C)

Research Reserve: Boiler Bay 
Photo Courtesy of Carolyn Propst

A Habitat Refuge is a specially protected area that is closed to the take of marine fish, shellfish and all marine invertebrates and is the highest level of protection. They are areas that are needed to maintain the health of the rocky shore ecosystem. Whale Cove, in Lincoln County is the only currently designated marine habitat refuge.

Habitat Refuge: Whale Cove
Photo Courtesy of Carolyn Propst

Oregon Marine Reserves

Different levels of government have jurisdiction over ocean and coastal management, based on the distance from the coast. States control the waters from 0-3 nautical miles seaward of mean lower low water. In Oregon, this is the area known as Oregon’s Territorial Sea. In 2012, Oregon completed the designation of five marine reserve sites within its Territorial Sea; each site has a no take marine reserve and most sites also include one or more, less restrictive marine protected area (MPA). The marine reserves prohibit all take of fish, invertebrates, wildlife and seaweeds as well as ocean development. The MPAs have varying levels of protection, allowing or prohibiting specific take and prohibiting all ocean development. The Marine Reserves protection is being phased in over a 4 year period.
  • Redfish Rocks and Otter Rock (Jan 1, 2012) - Scientific monitoring at the sites is currently ongoing. Site management plans have been developed.
  • Cape Perpetua and Cascade Head (Jan 1, 2014) - Scientific monitoring at the sites is currently ongoing. Site management plans are currently under development.
  • Cape Falcon (Jan 1, 2016) - Rules have been adopted and harvest restrictions will begin in 2016. Baseline data collection is currently underway.
Check out the Map of Marine Reserves

For those interested in hearing more about the Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, Nadia Gardner will be presenting at the May 12, 2015 Cannon Beach City Council Work Session; 5:30pm at City Hall.

More information about Rocky Shores and Marine Reserves available at
Welcome to the Oregon Marine Reserves Website

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Puffins Have Returned

After a mild winter on the North Coast, the happenings of Spring are coming early this year. The daffodils bloomed early, the invasive Scotch Broom is blooming already, and the Tufted Puffins (Fratercula cirrhata) are already returning to Haystack Rock! Six puffins were first spotted on April 2nd and have been seen on several days since the first sighting.

The Tufted Puffin is a pelagic bird, spending most of the year at sea, typically more than 60 miles off the coast, with no land in sight. They spend their time at sea either individually or in pairs and return from the sea each spring to bear and rear their young. The puffins nest on remote rocky islands with grassy areas in which they can burrow. There are few places on the Pacific Northwest Coast that fit their nesting needs, but Haystack Rock is a perfect spot for them, and they return here year after year.

The Tufted Puffin is the largest puffin in America and the only puffin that nests at Haystack Rock. It's large orange bill, orange feet, white face and black body make it a distinctive bird. The puffin typically lives 15 to 20 years and reaches breeding age at about 3 years. During breeding season, golden plumes curl over the back of the head and neck. They are most often seen in flight and need a running start to take flight. They then flap their wings furiously to stay in flight and do not glide as other birds. They dive and swim underwater, using their wings to paddle and their feet to steer their way through schools of small fish, which they catch in their bills. When not in flight, they can be spotted - for the patient and eagle-eyed observer - standing at their burrow entrance guarding their chick. 

Tufted Puffin (Haystack Rock 2014)
Photo Courtesy of Lisa Sheffield

The puffin pairs, who probably form long-term pair bonds, excavate their burrows, which can be up to 5 feet deep, on the parts of Haystack Rock that are covered deeply in soil and plant life. The nest chamber can be lined with grass or feathers, but sometimes is not lined at all. The female will lay a single egg in the burrow and both parents share the responsibility for incubating the egg for a period of about 45 days. After hatching, both parents will feed the nestling, carrying the food in their bills from foraging missions.  Fish is the primary food when feeding the chick, but puffins also eat squid, marine worms, and shrimp. The time required until the fledging leaves can range from 30 to 60 days depending primarily on the availability of fish. When the chick fledges, it will 'flutter' to the water as most young puffins are not yet able to fly and is then no longer cared for by the parents.

Tufted Puffins Near Their Burrow (Haystack Rock 2014)
Photo Courtesy of Susan Glarum

The Puffins will be at Haystack Rock about four months while each pair prepare their nests and care for their nestling so there are plenty of opportunities to visit Haystack Rock and watch for them. The puffins will be officially welcomed back to Haystack Rock by the children from the local elementary schools on Earth Day, Wednesday April 22nd. Check the Twelve Days of Earth Day website for the time of the official welcome and for other events during this twelve day celebration in Cannon Beach. 

Happy Puffin spotting!