Driving up on the coast from California toward Oregon earlier this year, I was awarded with some stunning visuals of the Oregon coast and blown away with the numerous possibilities for learning here. The landscape has it all. Coastal redwoods, rocky volcanic formations jutting out into the beaches, curved into arched rocks, haystacks, sea stacks and whatever else we can name them. This coastline is a photographers dreamscape and a biologists playstation all the way with opportunities to watch intriguing intertidal species and others such as the seals, whales, surfers, whipped up trees and more.
Cannon Beach is known for its Haystack rock, a 235 foot monolith, home to intertidal species such as limpets, sea slugs, chitons, crabs , sea anemone, starfish and teeming other species, reflecting biodiversity. This intertidal area is designated as a Marine garden - there are 7 in Oregon.
Here are some resources that will help you plan ahead for your exploration. Check Haystack Rock Awareness Program for details on programs you can be part of throughout the year. There is a ample information on summer opportunities for children of all ages, for teachers planning field trips, to know schedule of beach programs, tide timings and more. HRAP beach programs have trained staff and volunteers working as shore interpreters and educators. The beach program also has bird stations with spotting scopes, educational brochures that open the mind to infinite life possibilities in nooks and corners, wide open oceans and jutting rocks that mark this beach. Bird watching can be rewarding from Spring through Summer. Enthusiasts spot Western Gulls, Tufted Puffins, Pelagic Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, Black Oystercatchers, Surf Scoter, Bald eagle and more. In the midst of being in a place with 'water, water everywhere', is also a place to learn about its watersheds and how we can play our part in this watershed to support its health and well-being.
Haystack Rock, the unique monolith with its sisters have more stories to tell of their origins (like why do we see more of these interesting rock features along the Oregon coastline and not in California's coastline), of their historical connections with native Americans (of the Tillamook tribe) and later with explorers from different parts of the world that came to live here, making this scenic part of the west their home. Explore, ask questions (why the does the sea end here by the monolith, and not else where?, why don't we see those starfish in numbers as in the past, and more) and while doing all that, learn to be still to watch the streaming biodiversity in those intertidal pools and beyond, reaffirm life's processes.