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Overall, Haystack Rock is a treasure trove of marine biological diversity, from invertebrates and pelagic birds to marine mammals, with an active education program for curious beach visitors. I believe that everyone can benefit from learning how to slow down, look carefully, respect the posted tidepool rules (no touching living creatures, no walking on rocks with organisms, no collection of shells or any marine biota in the designated marine sanctuary), and learn how to identify amazing otherworldly invertebrates right in front of your eyes. The best tidepool invertebrate diversity today was observed at the south end of Haystack Rock in the area often referred to as "The Needles." The sand level on the beach seems approximately 4 ft higher in this area compared to a similar time of year in 2023, making tidepool access efficient and easy. A patch of surfgrass was visible, a species that is commonly seen at below zero or mid-low tidal levels in the Pacific Northwest. Surfgrasses are an extremely important habitat for algae, invertebrates, and fish. I observed many large ochre sea stars with no signs of sea star wasting syndrome (6-10 inches from central disk to longest ray) in many bright colors: purple, orange, magenta, and pink. Giant green anemone, plumose anemone, and aggregating anemone were abundant. A search for nudibranchs revealed two taxa: Northern leopard dorid and Monterey dorid. Chiton diversity included Black Leather Chiton (Katharina), Lined Chiton (Tonicella), and Hairy Chiton (Mopalia). Multiple Pacific Rock Crabs were buried in the sand beneath the tidepools. I observed multiple light gray/tan, leathery tubes of the Northern Feather Duster Worm, a beautiful polychaete. If you look closely in my photos below, you can see that these tubes are hollow but constructed with tiny particles of sand or mud, reinforced by mucus, and secreted by this worm; the tubes remain open (unlike other worms who may close off the tube with an operculum). A Pacific sea nettle jellyfish was seen washed up in the wrackline. An adult harbor seal was hauled out near the rocky intertidal pool area. As I was tidepooling, I heard multiple beach visitors asking about sea slugs and how to locate nudibranchs. I believe that education on this specific topic would be beneficial with these 5 simple tips elucidated in Kassidy Wilkins’ blog, The Tidepooler: go at low tide, study nudibranch morphology, search for their food sources (many are dietary specialists), look at dawn or dusk (crepuscular) as many species are nocturnal and search thoroughly using your “tidepool eyes”, meaning under rocky ledges, crouch down, look at different angles, and move closer. Respecting tidepool life is key, and I believe that education programs such as Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) play a valuable role in protecting fragile habitat and fostering greater awareness of the important ecological roles of rocky intertidal invertebrates to maintain a healthy marine food web.

Conditions

Temperature: 55 F. Cloud Cover: Cloudy. Wind Velocity: Calm/Light. Tide Level: 0.5 feet.

Human Activities

Number of people: 100. Number of dogs: 30. Sitting: 40. Tidepooling: 60. I observed many intrepid tourists and beach-goers braving a light wind and steady rain showers to explore the marine garden at Haystack Rock this morning for the negative low tide. All dogs were leashed or under an owner's vocal control as is required in the marine sanctuary per the City of Cannon Beach's website.

Notable Wildlife

Nesting seabirds put on quite a show this morning. The negative low tide and no fog made for excellent viewing conditions on the north side of Haystack Rock. One Tufted Puffin was gathering nesting material for its burrow, including grasses, sticks, and twigs. Approximately 2,000 nesting Common Murres were seen huddled together on the grassy north side of Haystack Rock; additional murres were seen on the Needles and on the west side of Haystack Rock (the latter location was visible due to the negative low tide). Pelagic and Brandt's cormorants were seen collecting nesting material, arranging grasses to build a nest, and engaging in courtship behaviors. Pigeon Guillemots were also observed in pairs, and resting along the lower rocky intertidal pool area on the north side of the rock and near the saddle.

Driftline Content

Seaweeds and seagrass, Shells.

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May 25, 2024

Overall, Haystack Rock is a treasure trove of marine biological diversity, from invertebrates and pelagic birds to marine mammals, with an active education program for curious beach visitors. The best tidepool invertebrate diversity today was observed at the south end of Haystack Rock in the area often referred to as "The Needles. As I was tidepooling, I heard multiple beach visitors asking about sea slugs and how to locate nudibranchs.

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