Tide Pools, A Spring Break Sensation!

Visitors exploring in the tide pools.

Visitors exploring in the tide pools.

The tide pools at Cobble Beach in  Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area are among the best and most popular in Oregon. Low tides expose a great diversity of marine species which visitors can explore and learn about, such as Ochre stars, Green  anemones, Purple sea urchins,  Sea lemons, Gumboot chitons, Pacific octopus, and many many others.

In between bedrocks, an Ochre star is encrusted.

In between bedrocks, an Ochre star is encrusted.

This week I had a rundown of tide pool ecology, different interpretation techniques, how to layout the information booth, and where to place the warning signs. This is because Yaquina is expecting to have a lot of visitors during the Spring Break Week and I will be assisting staff by doing interpretation at the tide pools.  I don’t doubt that there will be a lot of visitors because just last Tuesday, on the middle of the week,  on a  gray day with intermittent rain, the tide pools had over 60 visitors during a three hour period. I was amazed about the visitors’ interest and willingness to come on such conditions, but they did! And they had fun! From 5 years old to people who were retired, the tide pools attracted a wide range of visitors. Some were local, but more than half were visiting from other states and overseas. There was a couple from England, who had previously been in Hawaii and wished to come specifically to Newport to check out some of the last pristine places for wildlife.

Purple sea urchins, Green anenomes, and an Ocher star in one of the many pools at Cobble Beach.

Purple sea urchins, Green anenomes, and an Ocher star in one of the many pools at Cobble Beach.

People don’t just see sea critters in the tide pools, just meters away from the coast, visitors can see about a hundred Harbor Seals resting on islands, and Bald Eagles fly by looking for food,  Black Oystercatchers looking for food, and attractive Harlequin ducks resting on the shore. Almost everyone who sees the Harlequin ducks is at awed at their magnificent display of colorful plumage. The Harbor Seals often get so close to shore and they stick their heads out of the water and people stare, but visitors do not often notice them until they are pointed out because they are so focused on finding rocky shore critters. However, visitors will notice the sea gulls catching Purple sea urchins and throwing toward the ground to crack and then eating the meat inside it. It is very entertaining to see this behavior because often the sea gulls have try many times before succeeding.

The ocean from a bed of California blue mussels.

The ocean from a bed of California blue mussels.

The tide pools are truly a unique place to visit and the more time you spend there, the more you will find. Take it from one man who  has been coming the tide pools at Cobble Beach since he was one-year old and he is now in his sixties. This tells you that there is lots to discover in this rocky shore.

So far I have not seen many Hispanic/Latino visitors which means there is a lot of work to be done here in terms of outreaching to them and getting them out here to see the beauty of the tide pools.

Top view of tide pools during high tide

Top view of tide pools during high tide

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Deck view of the tide pools.

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