2018 was full of drift treasures. Some had human origins. Others were from rocky intertidal, subtidal, pelagic, estuarine, and terrestrial sources. Unravelling the stories of marine drifters, at least trying, is irresistible. Most will forever remain mysteries. That’s what keeps beachcombing compelling. Below, arranged chronologically, from the distant memories of last winter at the top, to recent scenes from last month at the bottom, are samples of drifted discoveries that caught my attention in 2018. All are from northern Oregon unless otherwise noted in the caption.
Three ecosystems represented: forest (Sitka spruce), estuary (eelgrass), open ocean (pyrosome)
Expect marine mammal carcasses to wash ashore
High tide’s all about the cobbles and an early morning glow
Feather boa, Egregia menziesii
Got the hitchhikers to prove it’s been afloat awhile
Ocean drifter runs out of fetch
Carpet of drifted Velella velella
Bull-kelp nori, Pyropia, on a drifted bull-kelp stipe
This trap won’t fish
Blue buoys, Dosima fascicularis, on a spent by-the-wind sailor
California mussel, Mytilus californianus
Good-sized drift wood
Sea palm, Postelsia palmaeformis
Ever lovely Macrocystis
A good-sized beached jelly, over 30 cm across | has fried egg characteristics, so Phacellophora camtschatica?
Signature workings, guess who | Callianax biplicata
Seaside plantain, Plantago maritima, pioneering onto a wrack line rubble of cobbles and sea shells
Otter tracks, heading off toward the reef at the top of the image | river otters
It’s taken a bit of rolling to round off the edges
Saccharina latissima, I presume | Orcas Island, WA
This scene caught my eye | Orcas Island, WA
Morning sunlight on Chondracanthus | Orcas Island, WA
I’ll share the wrack line with a great blue heron any day | Orcas Island, WA
Helmet crab, Telmessus cheiragonus, met its match | Orcas Island, WA
Purple varnish clams, Nuttallia obscurata dominating the drift line | Orcas Island, Washington
A dab of drifted Sarcodiotheca gaudichaudii | Orcas Island, Washington
Dock or coonstripe shrimp, Pandalus danae | Orcas Island, Washington
The Lion at sunrise | What surprises does the drift line hold?
Trace of a lone mole crab, Emerita analoga
Looking like a discarded plastic bag, a salp | perhaps Thetys?
A surf zone sea stack
Sea gooseberry, Pleurobrachia bachei
Trails of Alloniscus perconvexus on the backshore
Sea foam on the backshore
Drift line study
Color among the big wood in a dreary wrack line
A tangle of lost gear, big wood, and drift bull kelp on the backshore
Lost Dungeness trap buoy
That’s a view from the 2018 wrack line though my eyes. It’s just a sample. If you want to see more floats and buoys, drift algae, carcasses, bottles, drift line inhabitants, and other beached drifters, browse through Wrack Line 2018 or any of my Wrack Line pages.
Photographic Review of 2018