Homes for Urchins

Purple sea urchins sit in the depressions they've carved over time into the tide pool at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon

Purple sea urchins sit in the depressions they’ve carved over time into the tide pool, minimizing the force of the waves as the tide comes in and out. I came across these urchins in 2004 on a sunny day at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon. The picture below is a different set of urchins but taken on the same day, I’ve posted this one before but it was years ago.

Purple sea urchins sit in the depressions they've carved over time into the tide pool at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport, Oregon

A Small and Beautiful World

Mussels and barnacles live crowded together in a tide pool at Enderts Beach in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in California

In this crowded space in a tide pool at Enderts Beach in California’s Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, goose barnacles fill the gaps left by California mussels while acorn barnacles attach directly to the mussels themselves. The snails and black limpets are a little more mobile but all have evolved some sort of hard enclosure to protect against drying out at times like these when the tide has receded, and also against the birds who prey upon them. They may not be able to evolve fast enough to survive their biggest enemy as we not only warm the oceans but acidify them too. But for the moment I will bear them witness, this beautiful little world that exists only in the narrowest strip up and down our coasts, halfway on land and halfway in water.

Missing Arm

A sea star with a missing arm in Olympic National Park

This ochre sea star (starfish) is missing one of its arms, there should be another arm in between the one pointing up and the one pointing right. I don’t know if it was suffering from sea star wasting syndrome that is killing large numbers of sea stars on the Pacific coast. Multiple species of stars are affected but the ochre stars are the most visible since they are easily seen in the intertidal zone.

Earth Imitates Life

Large rocks stretch to the sky at Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park

These large rocks at Rialto Beach in Washington’s Olympic National Park reminded me of goose barnacles stretching to the sky. There are tide pools by the rocks if you’d prefer life to its imitation. There’s a gull enjoying this lovely spring morning as well as I always like to sneak a little wildlife into my landscape pictures when I can. Shown below are actual goose barnacles (also known as gooseneck barnacles) from Enderts Beach in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in California. Their stalk is said to resemble the necks of geese and according to Wikipedia, goose barnacles and the barnacle goose were named after each other, as the goose was suspected of growing from the barnacle.

Goose barnacles crowd together in a tide pool

All Anemones Great and Small

A giant green anemone sits beside a colony of aggregating anemones in a tide pool in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

There are two species of anemones in this tide pool at Enderts Beach, the big green one is an aptly-named giant green anemone. The clustered little ones are aggregating anemones, they can reproduce multiple ways but this colony would likely consist entirely of clones. Giant green anemones are sometimes seen in tight groups but if there’s room they often spread out.