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Coastal Marine Biology: Family Style at the Tidepools

We were able to fit in some time at the tide pools along the Oregon Coast. We have started a study of marine biology this year and it was a perfect time to investigate up close the life in these pockets of water and at the rocky shore line.

The first thing we learned was that we needed to know the high and low tides for each day. It made a big difference in what we would see. One day we timed it just right and we found ourselves all alone at a great area of tide pools.

There had been a storm during the night before and the area was covered in seaweed. The whole beach area was filled in with piles of kelp….mostly bullwhip kelp.

The boys quickly learned how to look carefully in and around the crevices of the rocks for interesting things to view.

We saw anemones.

Hermit Crabs


Sea Stars


Someone in our family got wet because he was not paying attention to the waves coming in. I thought he was going to be stranded out on the rocks but he made it in safely……a little wet though. If you look closely in the photo above, you can see him way out on the rocks.

We all learned so much from this experience and now when we read in our textbook about marine life, we have a better understanding of just what they are talking about.

The Handbook of Nature Study has a few pages of information about marine invertebrates. Page 418 talks about shells of Florida and the East Coast and page 430 has a little information on seashore creatures.

After our tidepool adventure, the boys decided to build a structure with driftwood, rocks, and seaweed. This became a tradition on this trip and they came up with very elaborate ways to build on the beach.

Great memories and a lot of learning.

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Marine Invertebrates Notebooking Pages

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Visiting Maple Tree Country: Outdoor Hour Challenge #34

Our Outdoor Hours this week were spent along the northern California Coast and southern Oregon coast. Our first stop was camping at Humboldt Redwoods (great place for camping) where most of the tallest trees in the world live. We saw ancient redwoods towering overhead.

These trees are so tall and grow so densely that the forest floor is dark and quiet. It is quite the experience to hike along the trail and silently observe these magnificent trees up close.

The forest seemed to have its own atmosphere in and among the trees. The mist in some areas was high up in the canopy of the redwoods and it was dripping down on our heads as we hiked underneath.

In some parts of the redwood forest, it seemed as if the light never penetrated down to the floor and there were mushrooms and moss growing everywhere. It was like stepping back in time.

Mixed in among these forest giants are Big leaf maples. This time of year they are a brilliant yellow and orange and the leaves are *large*. My tree book says that the leaves are between 16 and 24 inches long.

Here is a leaf I saw on the ground that shows how big they are in real life.

“It is its autumn transfiguration which has made people observant of the maple’s beauty; yellow, orange, crimson, and scarlet foliage makes these trees gorgeous when October comes.”
Handbook of Nature Study, page 628

This leaf was on a tree in Ashland, Oregon in Lithia Park. The trees in the park were just turning colors as we walked through last weekend. It was really cold and the air had a bite to it. We bundled up and enjoyed the walk.

After this trip along the Pacific coast, I have thought a lot about our dependence on wood from trees. We passed many areas in the forest where it had been clear cut, leaving nothing left standing to speak of. There were many, many lumber mills and great stacks of both logs and lumber.

Here is a stack of logs that we passed in the town of Eureka, CA. You cannot even imagine how tall and long these piles of logs are but this gives you an idea. It is a big reminder how useful certain trees are in our every day life. Look around you at this very moment and you will no doubt see lots of things made from wood.

I know that trees are a renewal resource but it does make you stop and think when you see so many areas clear-cut and then the piles of logs sitting at the mills. It truly is a balancing act….the love of the forest and the love of wood products.

Just a some thoughts as we travel along on this trip.