Today was a very eventful day! We became experts at scaling cliffs, found sea urchins as big as my head, and explored sea caves that can only be accessed during low tide, but I’m getting ahead of myself. This morning we finally got to sleep in super late, until 5:30 AM (crazy, I know). We piled in the van at 6:15 AM to head to Sunset Beach and begin our hour-long hike through the forest to our final destination, Qochyax Island (pronounced “coke-yaw”). This hike is where 11 measly Moravian College Students and one professor became expert rock climbers! One of the cliffs we scaled during our journey is pictured below (disclaimer: there actually was a trail, but it was steep).
After making our way down through the treacherous trails of the Oregon forest, we also got to adventure through a sea cave! During most of the day this cave is completely under water; the only time it is accessible is during low tide. Using flashlights, we explored the cave and looked for cool rock formations as well as new organisms such as rock lice!
While we were at Qochyax Island, we saw so many amazing sites and species. Dr. Lord even found a gigantic sea urchin! It was a hybrid of two species of sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus and Strongylocentrotus franciscanus (purple and red sea urchins) and was likely to be nearly a hundred years old. We also spotted two harbor seals that were hanging out around the island. One was trapped in a tidepool and would likely be there until the tide came back up.
So far, I am having an amazing time on the Oregon Coast. I have learned so much in the short time that we have been here, and I am so excited for the days still to come!