|The group at Cascade Head|
Sunday, Mar 27th - Students arrived to a rainy, wind driven Newport to unpack and get settled in before class the next day. One thought on all our minds….is the weather going to be like this ALL term? Rain or shine we’re here all for the same reason: our love for the ocean.
|Students in the lab|
Tuesday, Mar 29th – Today we covered the geophysical history of the Oregon coast and its unique features. Due to the heavy rainfall and 35 mph winds, we switch our schedule hike to Cascade Head to Friday and instead set up the lab for our soon to be thriving collection of invertebrates. After lunch we traveled to Port Dock 5 – one of the two major commercial docks on the north side of the bay – to collect our first invertebrate specimens. Our findings included barnacles, isopods, but most exciting of all, a giant sunflower star (Pycnopodia helianthoides – see invertebrate species list).
We concluded the busy day with a review of Komar’s book, The Pacific Northwest Coast, introductions, and lots and lots of pie.
|Alan with the giant Pacific chiton|
Thursday, Mar 31 – We begin in the classroom again with a lecture covering phylum Cnidaria and Ctenophora (includes anemones, corals, and jellies) and then go to the Oregon Coast Aquarium to see all of them in action. Students focused on the invertebrate exhibits, exploring various species that would not be gathered on field trips.
|Sea nettle - Chrysaora fuscescens|
Friday, Apr 1 – We concluded our hard work with a hike up to Cascade Head. The rain had finally stopped leaving us walking through fog. The first summit was reached, but the fog prevented us seeing the incredible view of the Pacific coastline. In efforts to keep warm, the second summit was conquered with still no yielding from the fog. By the time we turned back and reached the first summit, the fog began to clear giving us a spectacular view of the coast. From Monday’s reading of our coast’s natural history, we were able to see two of the dominant geological formations of the northwest coast: estuaries and rocky intertidal coasts. Like many Oregon headlands, Cascade head is at the tip of a 300 mile long Columbia River basalt lava flow that erupted in Idaho over 15 million years ago. A hard, rocky headland and the Salmon River Estuary is what we see today after subsequent uplifting of the coast range. Cascade Head is now a preserve implemented by the Nature Conservancy in aim to protect and provide essential habitat for native prairie grasses, wildflowers and the Oregon silverspot butterfly. We returned to HMSC tired, sore, and ready for the weekend. Cheers to a great first week!