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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Beachcombing theoutershores: a 2017 Retrospective

Here’s a brief look back at theoutershores’ fifth year. I wrote 27 short posts and uploaded my share of Oregon coast images. I added new photos and updated most theoutershores’ pages, like the ones on reds and browns, and opened up new pages on sponges, sea anemones, and jellies. Here, I highlight the three most viewed posts I…

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Corallines and Chitons Layer the Lower Intertidal

In an intimate scene of layering, two crustose reds overtop one another. This is their way. Pink over purple, purple over pink. They in turn, are overtopped by hardened upright corallines, bladed reds, and chitons that blend in. In the upper left, a lined chiton, Tonicella lineata, occupies a layer between red crust and red…

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Anthopleura elegantissima Lives Up to All Its Common Names

Aggregating anemones, Anthopleura elegantissima, don’t mind a little crowding. They seem to need it. You’ll find them packed column-to-column. They cloak tide pool rocks so densely you might be fooled into thinking you’re looking at bare rock. It’s not until you take that first squishy step that you discover your mistake. Anthopleura elegantissima is genuinely an…

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Perched Atop Pollicipes, Lottia digitalis is a Work of Camouflage

In the image below, barnacles cloak a vertical wall rising above a sand filled tide pool. You’ll encounter scenes like this on exposed coastlines around the world, wherever there is a rocky intertidal. Here, the barnacles are goose barnacles, Pollicipes polymerus. Look for them where surf crashes against jutting rocks and headlands. Take a closer…

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Bull Kelp, Graceful in the Drift Line

In life, bull kelp is the picture of grace. Its scientific name, Nereocystis luetkeana, is graceful too. What about after bull kelp’s short life ends, does it retain its grace? Every fall, storms dislodge bull kelp from its rocky anchors. Once adrift, some are tossed ashore where we can answer the question without getting wet.…

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Beachcombing theoutershores: a 2016 retrospective

This marks the end of my fourth year on theoutershores. Including this retrospective, I made 35 posts and uploaded my share of Oregon coast images. I updated all theoutershores’ pages too. I’m starting to like the way my Brown Algae page is shaping up. If you’re into kelp and such, give it a look. The…

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The Fleeting Mirror: a Shimmering Surface Between Swash and Sand

In language of the beachcomber the mirror is the reflective sheen left on beach sand by the receding swash. It’s where the  sanderlings forage. Always on the move, the mirror tracks the pulse of the surf and the turn of the tide. Here’s a good example from June 2016. This is another example. It’s from April…

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Epiphytic Reds, a Cherry On Top

In tide pools or the drift line, epiphytic reds keep things interesting. These are delicate red algae that attach to plants or other algae. Their variety is high and field identification is a challenge. I’ve browsed enough field guides and web resources to propose that the epiphyte in the photo above is red fringe, Smithora naiadum,…

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Calling Up Connections

It’s been a good year for barnacles and bay mussels. Billows of goose barnacles, Pollicipes polymerus, proliferated freely. Blue mussels, Mytilus trossulus, a delicacy for predators, settled abundantly out of the plankton. Adult acorn barnacles, Balanus glandula, grew so fast they crowded each other off the rocks creating open space for recruits. To maintain balance in the face these…

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