Octopus Tree

Sitka spruce cloak the Pacific Northwest’s maritime headlands. Here, where the sounds of the surf are never silent, Sitka can be dominant. Arguably Oregon’s most iconic Sitka is the Octopus Tree. Rather than a central trunk, it’s limbs are arranged radially. At 105 feet tall, with a a vase-like shape, and a circumference of 47…

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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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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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Cup and Saucer, Constantinea simplex

Cup and saucer is eye-catching in morning light. Feelings are a rarity in my 1993 edition of Seashore Life, so when Kozloff remarks that C. simplex is “a real oddity,” I take it seriously. If he means singular or whimsical, I agree. There’s never a time I’m not pleased to come across cup and saucer.…

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Bird Rocks from Beach Level and the Trail Above

Four sister stacks on the northern Oregon coast, their highest point is 70 m, and the average elevation is 30 m. Their combined area is just under three ha. Bird Rocks isn’t the most creative place name, but it fits. They host breeding colonies of Brandt’s cormorants, common murres, pigeon guillemots, and western gulls. Bald…

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Gastropodestrians

Strings of periwinkles, tiny rock-dwelling gastropods, take advantage of low tide to make a crossing. Here, they glide, en masse, from the tip of rock in the lower left, to new grounds on the rock stretching across the top. Pioneers mark the crossing with mucus. Less adventurous gastropodestrians follow along, single file. But not all…

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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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Security for Granular Claw Crabs

Security for granular claw crabs, Oedignathus inermis, is an abandoned barnacle shell. They have to locate protection because their soft-shelled abdomens are vulnerable and nutritious. The specific epithet, inermis, means unarmed. Some people call O. inermis soft-bellied crabs. They are much sought by predators. Seeing more than the pinching claw, which serves to block and camouflage the…

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