Lincoln City uses a portion of the local bed tax on hotel rooms to pay for educational programming which is offered free to the public, spring through summer. Thus far I’ve attended a Beachcombing Clinic, a Bird Walk, and now a Tidepool Clinic. Each of the outings was led by a local expert and though I’m not a novice there was still plenty for me to learn.
For instance, I learned that some species of sea stars can live 150 years. Wow! Ochre Sea Stars, the ones most common in Oregon’s nearshore tidepools, can live up to 40 years. Ochres primarily prey on California Mussels so when their population crashed due to sea star wasting syndrome a few years back there wasn’t a predator to control the mussels.
Thankfully, sea stars are rebounding along the Pacific Northwest Coast. However, some of the mussels are now too large for the sea stars to eat. This imbalance has led to a dramatic reduction in diversity in some tidepools since the large mollusks have dominated the available “anchor space”. A healthy, balanced tidepool is akin to old growth forest; its diverse habitats supporting a plethora of species.
Giant Green Anemones primarily owe their namesake color to a symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic algae. Did you know anemones can move? They appear to be permanently suctioned to the rock but nope, when they decide to move they let go and float away. Wild!
I think I’ll pursue a degree in lifelong learning…