Pacific Acorns

Acorn barnacles in the soft orange light of sunset in a tide pool at Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint in Florence, Oregon

I had visited Heceta Head before but spent more time on this visit, photographing birds near the creek and wandering up to the lighthouse. Sadly it was only as the sun began to set over the Pacific that I realized there were tide pools here, in a part of the beach I hadn’t yet explored. I took a few quick pictures in the soft orange light, here of large acorn barnacles, and made a mental note to visit again when the tide was out as photographing tide pools was something I wanted to do more of. Sadly it was my last visit to the coast before we moved so it will be a while before I can visit again.

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.

The 8:13 to Beaverton

A dense bed of mussels in a tide pool at Rialto Beach

Mussel beds are one of my favorite parts of tide pools, as a slightly-claustrophobic introvert they remind me of crowded trains. There are a couple of trains that I try to catch on my commute as for whatever reason they are usually fairly empty at my stops, when most trains are quite crowded, and arrive and leave work at convenient times. I got to my stop this morning just before the 8:13 to Beaverton and almost have the entire car to myself.

The mussels are covered in acorn barnacles with some limpets and snails along for the ride. I don’t know what type of snails they are, frilled dogwinkles? Eroded periwinkles? Wrinkled amphissas? I do know this: A+++ to whoever came up with snail names, I love you.