About theoutershores

Steve Morey (he/him) here. I started theoutershores because my thoughts about nature on the exposed beaches of central and northern Oregon needed curating. I call it theoutershores because that describes the surf-swept shores of my home beaches and it describes exposed shores anywhere. I hope my words and photos have meaning to people who love beaches and the exposed intertidal anywhere in the world.

theoutershores is my hobby. In real life, I dabble in decision analysis for USFWS. One of the things I think about there is how to help people make great natural resource conservation decisions. In Implicit decision framing as an unrecognized source of confusion in endangered species classification, along with four friends and colleagues (Jonathan Cummings, Sarah Converse, Dave Smith, and Mike Runge), we argue that when participants in an Endangered Species Act decision (or any decision) adopt privately held framings they create conflict and confusion about the decision. We think this happens a lot. We illustrate a few of the Endangered Species Act decision framings we have observed, and urge decision participants to open up conversations that lead to a shared understanding about framing from the start.

Another big part of good Endangered Species Act decisions involves connecting decision makers with the science that helps them understand risk, especially extinction risk. Making that connection is a complicated two-way street. Improving conservation policy with genomics: a guide to integrating adaptive potential into U.S. Endangered Species Act decisions for conservations practitioners is a primer for decision makers seeking to understand how adaptive potential influences risk, and for geneticists seeking to understand the twists and turns of decision making under the Endangered Species Act, and their role. I’m grateful to Chris FunkBrenna Forester, Sarah Converse, and Cat Darst for inviting me to participate. I learned a lot from each of them.

I’ve also had a chance to think a little bit about reserve design for endangered species conservation. Reserve Network Design for Prarie-Dependent Species in South Puget Sound just came out; that’s another project I did with Sarah Converse, and it’s where I met Beth Gardner.

Me fishing the surf, July 1, 2010

Back on the beach, my twitter profile, @theoutershores, says surfperch were my gateway. That’s true. Years of surfperch fishing taught me a lot. I even teamed up with Mike Westphal, Josef Uyeda, and Ted Morgan to write Molecular phylogeny of the subfamily Amphistichinae (Teleostei: Embiotocidae) reveals parallel divergent evolution of red pigmentation in two rapidly evolving lineages of sand-dwelling surfperch. Fishing the intertidal also helped me learn about tides, surf, and currents. Along the way I started to learn some of the intertidal plants, animals, and seaweeds. I branched out beyond the sandy beaches to the rocky intertidal, where my fascination with intertidal seaweeds just about put an end to my surfperch fishing. Now I fish the surf zone only occasionally. I split my time between combing the wrackline on sandy shores and exploring the rocky headlands and outcrops that separate Oregon’s sandy beaches.

Karen Crow (SFSU), me, and Giacomo Bernardi (UCSC) aboard the R/V Point Sur, October 26, 2012

Countless naturalists have helped me discover the intertidal via their books (you’ll see my favorites cited frequently in my posts and pages), websites (I’ve got a few favorites there too), and in person. I wish I could thank them all. My main collaborator and friend on theoutershores is Mike Westphal. He’s one of the best naturalists I know, and the intellectual co-founder of theoutershores. My posts are full of things that Mike and I have learned and are learning about the surf zone and about the natural history of surfperch and their prey, and other creatures with which they share the beaches, outcrops and tidepools. Mike helped teach me respect for the sandy beaches’ sister ecosystems, the rocky intertidal, estuaries, the subtidal, and coastal forests.

If you have an interest in things that wash up on the beach throughout the seasons- things like marine debris, floats, carcasses, driftwood, and shells, my Wrack Line pages will be right up your alley. If you like photos of intertidal organisms, I have pages on surfperches, other fishes, lots of other animals, plants, and seaweeds too. These are all works in progress, and they always will be. You can get a taste of those pages by visiting my A Variety of Intertidal Life page.

Redtail surfperch, Amphistichus rhodoterus

I’ve tried to make theoutershores a welcoming place where everybody who visits can connect with nature in their own way and participate if they feel like it. My wish for theoutershores is that it is a place where all people feel invited and safe. I’m going practice aligning my actions on the beaches and in the tide pools with these values and I will strive through my words and photos to be inviting, welcoming, and provide a safe space for anyone who visits. If I can do this, theoutershores can be what it needs to be- a place where everyone can be their best authentic self.

If you like what you see and read, I hope you’ll give the outershores a follow. For different takes on the intertidal (but with some overlap) follow me on twitter @theoutershores. I show off my favorite intertidal photos on Instagram. Another good way to keep up with what’s going on at theoutershores is to like TheOuterShores on facebook. All of these options are available on the sidebar of this page and theoutershores‘ home page.

This page was revised and updated on August 15, 2020.


  1. Really beautifully compiled, Steve. Used to live in Astoria, Oregon. Love beaches. Anywhere, everywhere. Looking forward to reading through your posts. Thanks for being meticulous in identifying the flora and fauna you’ve encountered!

  2. Wonderful blog Steve. I am learning a lot from your posts. Great photos. I am writing from Parksville on the east coast of Vancouver Island. This is a protected inland sea. But in 2 hours I can drive to the west side of the island which is exposed to the open ocean like the Oregon Coast. Any sign of the sea star wasting syndrome in your area?

    By the way, how do you make the snowflakes sweep across the screen?
    Hans from “Boerger West Coast Nature”

    1. Oh, forgot the winter snowflakes. Sorry, I’m not much help. It’s a WordPress feature. I got a notice last year asking if I wanted winter snowflakes and I clicked yes. This year they just appeared without my doing anything.

  3. Huh! It’s like reading a running monologue of what my eyes are seeing everyday. I found a blob of what looked like an alien embryo just today. Must have been a .. What was it again? A yelp?
    Used to live in Astoria, but have scoured most of the Oregon coast and now reside in Humboldt County, south of the border (of Oregon) and am finding new things. Washed up sea squirts, teeny intertidal octopuses swimming in tiny tidepools, you heard me, octopuses, not “octopi”, but I digress….
    Favorite finds – giant shells (tiny ones on East coast called jingle shells. What ARE they? )
    Always looking for nudibranchs. Found a couple with white frosted blades on their backs.
    Found a Teeny bright purple snail shaped shell at Cape Blanco in May. Heard it was a floating pelagic mollusk. Never saw one like it before in my life.
    Thanks for writing this account. Will stay glued from now on.
    Recently collecting gaping fish jaws from Trinidad harbor, tossed by fishermen, washed up and picked clean by the birds, left staring with that startled look of the hollow eyed ones, sharp teeth at the ready. Some with toothy palates. Found that put by unwisely putting finger in inviting looking fish mouth.
    My place smells funny when the fog sweeps through the windows, due to all the “dried” seaweed I have hanging picturesquely from the walls.
    Ok I’ll stop now, with just a nod to all the sea sponges laying around Port Orford’s “agate beach”.
    Thanks again and if anyone has tips on drying a cartilaginous “skeleton” of something, or drying whole bird heads, please let me know. Cats are starting to press their noses to my living room window because of the various aromas.

  4. Thanks for posting these articles and images. I am also a fan of the beach, tide pools and beach combing. The beaches and tide pools in Oregon are very different from the ones in California where I am from. I find it fascinating to see the differences and on many occasions the similarities between the two locations. Thanks again for posting. I have a similar website about California tide pools that I would like to share if allowed. Here is the link: http://californiatidepools.com/

  5. Wow! I’m jealous being landlocked myself at the moment. I grew up on the coast and can’t wait to pay it a visit later this month!!

  6. Happy New Year Steve and thanks so much for posting this website. We live on the east coast coast now and really miss those northwestern Pacific coast beaches. So much energy! Thanks for helping us keep the beautiful Pacific alive In our thoughts.

  7. I was not born by the sea and do not have it close by. I love the sound though, and when I am visiting Iceland or other islands, I find great comfort in the rolling waves and the sky. You have some great photos and a very ambitious concept. Thank you for visiting.

  8. Hi Steve! I’m loving your work. I have only just come across your site, looking for pictures of sargassum on Google, but I will definitely follow you now. I am on the west coast of Ireland and I have been building http://www.wildatlanticseagarden.com for the past year. When people complain to me about the grey background, I will show them your beautiful blog as an example of the way forward. Thanks a million. Please keep doing what you are doing. All the best. Jenny

    1. Jenny, I finally got around to checking out
      your site. It’s a whole new world to me. I’ve never seen so many kelp and seaweed products. I’ve had an enjoyable morning browsing the offerings. You’ve done a great job building an attractive and friendly website. I’ll be following along on twitter and fb.

  9. Steve,
    You may recall that you graciously gave me the go-ahead to use one of your redtail surfperch photos in a forthcoming book. Now I’d like to use that photo in our magazine and we’ll actually pay you for that (I have your mailing address, but no email for you)…can you shoot me an email? Thanks, John

  10. Thanks for the follow on my photography blog Steve! I was just looking back at some of your photos and picked out one I just loved – ‘A Clean Drift Line’, and possibly even more so the header on this page!

  11. Just found your beautiful, well made blog, through the weekly photo challenge at The Daily Post. Looking forward to see more posts.

  12. I stumbled upon this blog whilst trying to identify a beach isopod and my mouth is agape as I read and browse through all the posts. I spend as much free time as I can beach-combing and I use my “Whelks to Whales” beach guide. But this is an incredible resource and inspires me to keep looking closer and closer. Always so nice to stumble upon kindred spirits! Thank you

    1. Hey there, Jessica. I glad to hear you found me. Thanks for taking the time to drop me a line. Whelks to Whales is a great friend of mine too. If you get to walk the beaches a lot, you’re a lucky person. Isn’t it amazing just how many interesting things are just waiting to be discovered? Good luck with your isopod!- Steve

  13. Hey Steve,
    I forwarded your question about the octopus you posted recently to a friend who worked for years at the Zoo with Octopi and here is her response:

    I was not able to comment directly to your friend, but the diagnostic characteristic that distinguishes a red octopus from a young giant Pacific octopus is the presence of three papillae or ‘fingers’ below each eye. I can’t tell if they are present or not from the photo. I’ve found more reds than GPO’s in PNW tidepools, though. I have a photo of this diagnostic somewhere in my bloated marine photo file; I’ll search if he wants it.
    I’ll see if I can get your site over to her so you can connect. She loves critters too!

  14. Greetings!
    My husband and I love the Oregon coast! Although we live in Arizona we’ve been walking these beaches for almost 2 decades, and mostly around Thanksgiving time. I just spent some time on your awesome website, thank you for providing so many beautiful views and interesting angles to places we hold dear.
    I have one question – we just came home the other week from our most recent trip and my hubby is working on our travel blog. He took a photo of what looked like dotted squiggly lines in the sand. Do you have any idea what could have caused these? I could share the photo with you if you’re curious.
    Thank you for all your efforts in documenting the Oregon shores,

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