Dawn Breaks on a Crustacean Clash

Three minutes before sunrise, a seemingly peaceful scene, but beach hoppers were tussling on the drift line. On the beach, the driftline was littered with seaweed debris. With the sun not yet shining brightly, and the air warm with almost no breeze, beach hoppers were out and uninhibited. If you’ve never hung out with beach…

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Bull Kelp Drift: A Subtidal-to-Surf Zone Connection

What do you call a tangled mass of bull kelp on the beach? I’m not sure what you call a great spaghetti-like tangle of floats, stipes, and holdfasts, but after a long summer, masses and clumps of kelp wash onto the beach with the first big surf of the fall season. This clump was 112…

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Getting to Know Gapers

Everybody loves collecting seashells on the beach and I’ve collected a few myself. Sandy beaches are great for finding beautiful shells because scouring sands keep them clean and round off jagged edges. Currents transport shells long distances from their home waters, so you never know what you’re going to find. I wrote about this in…

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Red-eyed medusa, Polyorchis penicillatus

Frame of reference is everything.  From the perspective of sampling surf zone fishes, jellyfish in the surf tend to be an irritant. They foul lines, and in large numbers, they make sampling impossible.  That’s one perspective.  From the point of view of the naturalist wandering along the sandy beaches, jellyfishes are mysterious delicate creatures, so…

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Answering the Clam Challenge: Which Shells for Which Beaches?

Last May I posted this photo and caption on Wrack Line 2013.  I hoped the caption might lead to the identification of this interestingly colored ribbed shell.  No such luck however, so yesterday I posed the challenge again on the TOS Facebook page along with the additional views shown below. This is Corbicula, probably C. fluminea,  the freshwater…

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Comparing King Tides

King tide is a nickname for the highest spring tides of the year and an important milestone for many people with ties to ocean shores.  I gave a little bit of information about it just over a year ago in King Tide.  There is an Oregon King Tide Photo Initiative, and similar projects at various coastal localities…

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Eelgrass in the Wrack

This is eelgrass, Zostera marina.  A few days ago it was abundant in the wrack line, on the beach and in the surf.  Most of the eelgrass debris was composed of broken stems, but there were a few whole plants in the mix.  Eelgrass lives in estuaries and other sheltered places, not on sandy surf-swept…

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Estimating Flying Ant Day

If you follow TOS at all, you know I’m always checking out the wrack line. First thing I noticed May 8 was the unusual composition of the wrack; kind of a wrack line mystery. The fresh wrack was composed primarily of dead winged ants. The photograph above was taken in the morning, May 8. The…

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Stranded Sticklebacks

Just after low tide on January 20, I wasn’t expecting the explosive blast of a gasoline-started campfire and I wasn’t expecting to find sticklebacks on the beach sand. The sticklebacks, several of them, were stranded in the drift line from the previous high tide. They were three-spined sticklebacks, one of the common fishes in streams…

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Foam in the Wrack

Sometimes there is foam in the wrack. I don’t know how it forms;  I guess it happens offshore during big storms. This foam differs from normal sea foam which disperses quickly. This foam sticks together and can form piles or long snakes like this. Sometimes rafts of foam are seen floating just offshore in the…

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