Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bob Creek

Bob Creek Wayside in Neptune State Park is our favorite spot for tidepooling.  The beach is at a gradual angle, so the tide tends to come in quickly, and there is way more to explore here at an extreme minus tide (below sea level).  Most of these tides happen in the early morning, and picking one that happens during daylight hours really narrows them down to just a handful of times each year. When we arrive, we head out to the furthest point we'd like to explore and plan on heading back after the low tide point arrives and the tide begins coming in.  This beach is special because it's got lots of sandy stretches dotted with basalt rocks that spring up like mushrooms, so it's pretty easy to explore without stepping on fragile rock dwelling critters. And it's always uncrowded.   There are several sea caves here that are fun to explore.  One has huge marine isopods living on the cave walls which really resemble their pillbug relatives.  Jasper has discovered that this beach is great for agate hunting, so we always take some time to look for them before we go.   

Every time we come, we see something we've never seen before. This year we discovered a group of opalescent nudibranches, which really delighted Jasper.  He found the largest piece of agate he's found yet. We only spotted a grand total of three sea stars, and although there might see more there at a still lower tide, it was a chilling sign that the sea stars have a long way to go before they rebound from their losses due to sea star wasting syndrome.  As we left, we noticed several transparent egg cases lying on the sand.  I tried to find out what they might have been and found this article tentatively identifying them as squid egg cases, which are usually tied together in bunches. Apparently they are a very unusual sight on the beach. Minus tides are paired with very high tides, so I am hopeful that the rapidly incoming tide swept them back out to sea so that more squid babies are on the way.  If I ever find them again, I will contact Seaside Aquarium or the Oregon Coast Aquarium to see if they find it advisable to take them in and incubate them. 
I spotted an anemone in the act of spitting out a crab.  Anemones are not too picky about what they will grab, but it looked
like it had left a lot of meat on this crab.  Anemones look passive, but they react quickly to anything touching their tentacles.
Opalescent nudibranch.
Opalescent nudibranch.
I'm not sure which kind of shrimp this is, but it's striped legs are lovely!
The Sitka shrimp (left) turns green when it spends its time hiding in seaweed. 
Sculpin.
Sculpin.
Opalescent nudibranch.
Ochre sea star.
Giant green anemones.
Pink-tipped anemones.
Goose-neck barnacles.  Barnacles are not shellfish, but actually arthropods like insects and crabs.
Welks and barnacles.
Marine isopods.
Black turban snails.
Black turban snails.
Anemone, hermit crab and lined shore crab.
Pink-tipped anemones.
Agates and marine snail shells (baetic olives?).
Squid egg case?

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