Pinniped day at Nature Church

by Steve, March 4th, 2014

We started our day at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, where we visited the resident Pacific giant octopus and explored the interactive displays. (This is not to be confused with the nearby Oregon Coast Aquarium, whose octopus is not as easy to see.) Then we headed to Newport’s historic bayfront, where California sea lions are known to congregate. There was just one on the sea lion dock.
California sea lion
Head shot

But we spotted a few on a buoy near the NOAA dock.
Boys on the buoy

And ten more on a jetty.
Sea Lions on the jetty

Later in the day, we headed to a nearby area known for its tide pools (it is a very delicate location which I don’t want to publicize; locals may recognize it from the photos). Here we encountered sea anemones and countless hermit crabs (the highlight for Z).
Hermitt crab

Sea star wasting syndrome is devastating populations in Washington and California, but is only just starting to show up in Oregon. Ours appear to be healthy.
Sea star

The highlight of the day for me started with a sighting of a blue heron.
Spot the seals

We soon realized it was fishing near a pod of harbor seals.
Heron got a fish
Heron poaching seal food

We spotted three on the rocks and several more in the surf.

This area is my current favorite on the Oregon coast, a beautiful example of mountains meeting the sea.
Ancient shoreline

As our light faded into the evening we carefully picked our way across the rocks and headed home, stopping for a bird’s eye look back.
Twilight on Cape Foulweather