Rocky Inter-tidal: The Land of the Unknown
I was born and raised in landlocked Colorado, 20 years, then went to school in landlocked Arizona, another 4. I’ve been to the beach plenty of times, often on family vacations where we stayed in pampering resorts and hung out by the pool. We’d walk along the surf and picked up shells and bury each other in hot sand. But I never really experienced rocky beaches like the ones found here in Oregon. I knew they were around, Although they are much more common than I’ve been led to believe, my families’ idea of spending vacation time on the beach did not involve rocky shores with crashing waves, and therefore I was never really exposed to them.
Working at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area for the Bureau of Land Management granted me the opportunity to experience the enigmatic side of the beach, the rocky intertidal. This frequently cold, windy and drab environment holds hidden gems of life forms, exotic to my upland eyes. The unbelievable number of flora and fauna can be overwhelming, yet when you’re walking by they are almost undetectable. Out on my daily interpretive walks I still find myself puzzled by some of the organisms I find on these littoral rocks. And everyday you learn something new about this unique habitat. When walking around on Cobble Beach and in the tide pools, I’m often approached with many questions from our visitors. “What kind of animal is this?” “Is that alive?” “Are these clams?” And while I can boldly say that I am surprisingly knowledgeable about these pools and the critters that call them home, I still get stumped by someone or something. “I’m not sure ma’am,” or “I don’t know buddy, that could possibly be the case” in the end I’m just as curious and some what naive as they are, I mean, I’m just a guy from Colorado.