The Dynamic Wrack Line

Every winter high surf and rivers swelled by drenching storms combine with high tides to replenish the wrack line. It’s an annual cycle of renewal, muted only when winter storms are mild. Recent winters on my home beaches have seen few storms, low surf, and little replenishment of the wrack line. That changed this winter.…

Read More

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…

Read More

An Ordinary Beachcast Kelp

A wave-tossed frond of feather boa kelp, Egregia menziesii, washed ashore by the first big fall surf. Fall and winter storms are sure to send pulses of drifting kelp onto exposed beaches. It’s an annual cycle so routine we barely notice it; but to beach hoppers the seasonal deposition of drift kelp means everything.

Beach hoppers make a living on beach beach cast kelp. Their shows, little holes, outline the edges of this feather boa kelp
Beach hoppers make a living on beachcast algae. Their shows, little holes, outline the edges of this feather boa kelp stipe

Here’s another example; this time the treasure is bull kelp, Nereocystis luetkeana.

There's a beach hopper party under and along this bull kelp stipe
There’s a beach hopper party under and along the seaward edge of this bull kelp stipe

Click pale beach hopper, Megalorchestia columbiana, to see some photos and and learn a little more about the hopper responsible for most of the sand work seen in the photos above.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “(Extra)ordinary.”

Drift Line

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Half and Half.” Another in a series of assignments for Blogging 101. This one is a photo challenge called Half and Half This spring, small blue jellyfish-like creatures washed ashore by the millions turning beaches blue in places. These abundant little hydroids are called by-the-wind sailors,…

Read More

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…

Read More

Oceanic Crab Makes Landfall

Miles of monotonous sand. When I’m not concentrating on surf zone fishes and their prey, or the riches of the rocky intertidal, I’m walking the wrack line. If you look at Wrack Line 2014 or any of my Wrack Line pages, you will see examples of things that have washed up on the beach –…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

They Don’t Call ’em Surfperch for Nothing

On November 23 I posted this image on the TOS Facebook Page with the words, “Chilly morning on theoutershores.  Will the fish bite on these?”  I had an interest in catching a few surfperch, but it wasn’t meant to be.  Why did that happen?  Why no fish?  I might be able to offer an explanation.  My explanation…

Read More

Flat-tip Piddock, Penitella penita

A few days ago on the TOS facebook page I posted the photo above, along with this challenge: “Here’s a shell you don’t see on just any sandy beach. Any guesses about what it is?”  There were some great guesses but nobody really nailed it.  This is a piddock shell, probably the flat-tip piddock, Penitella…

Read More