Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bob Creek

Bob Creek in Neptune State Park has become a favorite spot to tidepool for us.  At other beaches, we've found it difficult to see much without climbing on rocks which are often covered with tiny barnacles and anemones.  At  Bob Creek, it's easy to cause no damage because many of the rocks jut out of the sand, so you can walk around them and see all the creatures. There is dramatically more to see at a low minus tide.  We explored a month before when the low tide was about -1.5, and found less of the tidepools accessible than we've found before.  We returned for a -1.8 tide, and there was definitely a difference. There are also agates and sea caves to be found here, and the beach is usually all but deserted.  A funny thing about this beach is that it's not sloped on a relatively flat plane.  In fact there are depressions in the beach which allow the tide to go out significantly while many tidepools remain under fairly deep water. 

The path down to the beach is scattered with broken shells.  In fact these are the remains of a Native American shell mound, a significant archeological site.  Shell mounds are ancient garbage piles. Most people aren't too thrilled about garbage piles, but archaeologists most definitely are. They can learn a great deal about the lives and diet of ancient people, as well as chronicle changes to the ecosystem and availability of different kinds of food, going back as much as 3,000 years. It's actually a crime to take artifacts from shell mounds, but most people would never even give this one a second glance.

White pieces of ancient shells line the path down to the beach.
We found the empty shell of a chiton. 
Chitons are mollusks that feed on algae. They don't really have anything
we'd recognize as a head.
Barnacles, mussel and whelk.
One of the sea caves.
Gooseneck barnacles.  Barnacles are crustaceans. 
Giant green anemone.
Under the sand is a tiny snail.  Maybe the reason it's crawling in circles is that it can't see where it's going?
Ochre sea stars. 
Anemones.
Dead mole crabs.
Pink-tipped anemones.
Ochre sea star and gooseneck barnacles.
Smooth bay shrimp.
Smooth bay shrimp.  You can see how perfectly they blend in with sand. They like to bury themselves in order to hide.
Sculpins.
The biggest sea cave.
Marine isopods.

2 comments:

Echota said...

Hi, I read your blog all the time, but I get it in email so I never comment. I so appreciate you sharing all of these wonderful natural places to go in Oregon. Even though I am not able to get to any of them because of chronic illness and being homebound, it's wonderful to know they are all so close, and to experience them through your eyes. I learn so much, too!

I was noticing the sea stars. I remember in a post awhile back you said they have this wasting disease - these seem to be misshapen, as well, do these also have them, or is that a natural shape?

One day I hope to be well enough to take my son to some of these wonderful places you've been sharing. Thanks so much for continuing to update!

Laura Lucanidae said...

Hi Echota! Thank you for your kind message. These sea stars all looked healthy, although there were waaay fewer there than we've seen in the past. Sea stars have a firm exterior, but the ones with wasting syndrome start to get mushy. The center will be mushy, or the legs will get mushy and fall off. It's pretty gross. I've read updates that juvenile sea stars are rising in number, although we didn't happen to see them. It's possible the population is rebounding and becoming more resistant, or it may be just that the babies don't have so many adults to compete with for food. I do hope they are bouncing back!