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…

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A View From the Wrack Line (2015)

Walking the beach, down in the swash or up in the wrack line, I’m wondering what the rivers, currents, winds, and surf will bring to my home beaches. This year the drift was full of treasures. Some had human origins, and there were lots of items from marine and terrestrial sources too. Lots of carcasses,…

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A Redtail Surfperch Photo Shoot

Back in mid October I spent part of a day trying to get some new shots of one of my favorite surf zone fishes, the redtail surfperch, Amphistichus rhodoterus. I didn’t get a lot of redtail participation, and as I explain below, I didn’t spend much time with those that did. My photo shoot wasn’t a…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Keyhole Limpets on the Beach

I took the photo shown above in dim early morning light on February 21, 2015. Keyhole limpet shells on the beach is not an unusual thing. Rough keyhole limpets, Diodora aspera, (along with whitecaps, Acmaea mitra) are the most common intact limpet shells found on the surf-swept sandy beaches of northern Oregon. There are plenty…

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Northern Feather-Duster Worm

Balancing precariously on the edge of a crevice above a rarely exposed and kind of spooky low tidepool, I came eyeball to photosensitive eyespot with this impressive clump of Eudistylia vancouveri. Not true – I came eyeball to parchment tube – the actual worms (eyespots and all) withdrew with the falling tide, and by the…

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