A Cockle Shell’s Shadows

A shadow over the cup of an upturned cockle shell. Shadows also set off the fluting along the margin. This is the shell of the heart cockle, Clinocardium nuttallii. I like the shifting influence of sunlight and shadows on the ribs radiating over the cockle’s curved external surface. Next time you come across a complete…

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A Twist of Serpula Tubes

Larval calcareous tubeworms start out life in the plankton- it’s a badge of honor among tide pool inhabitants. Once they settle, young worms secrete calcareous tubes within which they reside for the rest of their lives. Below, six or seven red trumpets, Serpula columbiana, have laid down loose coils around a giant barnacle shell, Balanus…

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A Jar’s Journey: Wrack Line Mystery

Closed tight, this empty glass jar floated as far as it could, washing ashore when it ran out of fetch on a cobble covered Oregon strand. It arrived in a beach cast of Velella velella, real-life professional drifters, so much so we call them by-the wind-sailors. The jar probably made landfall a few days before…

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Tonicella lineata’s Fine Lines

When I show images of chitons I always want to ask, “do you know which way the head is pointing?” Today I’ll refrain because I want to talk about the fine lines of Tonicella lineata. Just about everybody knows T. lineata as the lined chiton. The wavy bluish-white lines on the shell are eye-catching and…

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A Dogwinkle’s Aggregation

Renewal in Nucella canaliculata calls for a crowd. Winter and spring aggregations of channeled dogwinkles, that’s their common name, copulate and lay eggs over a several week period. In the finale, females deposit eggs in straw-colored vase-like cases. I took the photo above on April 19, 2018. If I am interpreting it correctly, the cases,…

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Boring Clams Lend an Otherworldly Appearance to a Miocene Shelf

An alluvial miocene formation shaped by changing sea levels, wave action, and boring clams has an otherworldly appearance. The seaward part of the headland, in the foreground, is Angora Peak sandstone. Composed of well-cemented particles, this resistant shelf once hosted a multitude of boring clams. You can still see shells in some of the the…

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Faces in the Maritime Forest

When a narrow trail opens to reveal a peek at the surf zone and the Pacific beyond, it’s easy to forget the forest. There are faces in the emerald frame- shore pine Pinus contorta,  salal Gaultheria shallon, and Sitka spruce Picea sitchensis. They’re at home on the exposed outer coast, tolerant of its salt spray.…

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Variety in the Intertidal Reds

Since I laid my hands on the new edition of Druehl and Clarkston’s Pacific Seaweeds, I’ve spent hours letting it guide me through the diversity of west coast seaweeds. It’s a celebration of morphological variety. Chapters on green, red, and brown seaweeds are organized by morphological theme- crusts, cylinders, simple blades, branched, bushy, feather-like, and…

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Sitting it Out

Settled on a vertical face in the highest intertidal, Lottia digitalis sits out low tide clamped down tight. With the surf pounding just below, there is silence in these shells. Note to arachnophiles: While preparing this post I noticed a red speck on the shell of the middle limpet. That’s a red spider mite (Neomolgus…

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