Beach Hoppers Rejoice Over Drift Macrophytes

A foggy morning with low visibility and muted colors and sounds. Under these conditions you’ll find more action down at your feet than off in the distance. On this morning the air was still and warm. Sunrise added little more than glare and from the foredune the atmosphere was as oppressive as the view was…

Read More

Thinopinus pictus, a Predatory Intertidal Staphylinid

If you walk the drift line you’ll want to get to know Thinopinus pictus, the pictured rove beetle. Pictured roves roam the damp sand between the swash and dry sand ambushing beach hoppers. They’re most active at night, but the odds of running across one on your morning walk are high. You’ll have to watch…

Read More

Comparative Photos Show Rocky Intertidal Changes Between 2013 and 2016

With the last bout of sea star wasting syndrome eastern Pacific starfish took a big hit. I describe the progression at this intertidal site in A Peek at Pisaster After Two Years of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome. After three years their numbers are still down. Removal experiments have shown we can expect changes in rocky…

Read More

Brandt’s Cormorant Doesn’t Survive Attempt to Swallow Barred Surfperch

Have you ever taken too big a bite? This Brandt’s cormorant did, presumably, and paid the ultimate price. A group of my friends, and my sis too, decided to spend New Year’s morning with their dogs on off-leash Carmel Beach, California. There, they made this curious discovery in the drift line. The slim neck of…

Read More

Drift Line Foam Could be Phytoplankton Remains

Every so often the surf zone is extra foamy and wave surge pushes gobs of it onto the beach. I even wrote a few words about it once – one of the first posts I wrote for theoutershores. It was just a photograph and a short descriptive paragraph about sea foam, acknowledging I had no…

Read More

Surfperch Clades Partition by Habitat, Suggesting Adaptive Radiation

Gary Longo and Giacomo Bernardi just published a paper on the evolutionary history of surfperch (embiotocidae) in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. They used RAD sequence data to describe the embiotocid radiation in the temperate North Pacific, and among the findings are (1) clades partition by habitat, suggesting adaptive radiation, and (2) the rise of kelp…

Read More

A Peek at Pisaster After Two Years of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome

It’s a good time to check in on the rocky intertidal. All along the west coast sea star wasting syndrome has, to varying degrees, reduced Pisaster ochraceus, a potent predator and organizing force in rocky intertidal communities. Generations of intertidal ecologists, students, fisherpeople and other harvesters, tide poolers, and beachcombers have grown to count on…

Read More

The Drift Line’s Getting Slippery on the Northern Oregon Coast: By-the-Wind Sailors Wash Ashore in Great Numbers

Free-floating hydroids, by-the-wind sailors, Velella velella, have been washing ashore in great numbers, for weeks. It’s a fairly common event on Oregon beaches, but this happens to be one of the biggest I’ve seen, so I’m sharing a few images that captured my imagination. Here’s the top of the drift line from a pre-dawn high…

Read More

Spongy Cushion, Codium setchellii

Every time I come across a patch of Codium setchellii I have to pause and take a closer look. The marvelous convolutions of greenish-black spongy cushion evoke feelings like no other algae. It’s a visceral thing – hard to explain. I haven’t discussed it with anyone, but I know I’m not the only one who…

Read More

My 2015 King Tide Project – Swell Matters

I have a fascination with very high and very low tides. Who doesn’t – they’re rare events and when they occur, things happen. Low tides are great for the naturalist; everybody’s out digging clams and exploring rarely exposed beaches and tidepools. Very high tides catch just about everybody’s attention. Coastal flooding and beach erosion can…

Read More