We’ve been at OIMB (Oregon Institute of Marine Biology) for only about 24 hours now, and it’s already something I am going to miss dearly. We began in the morning by taking a trip to the docks on the bay, just outside of campus. The docks looked pretty desolate but once you took a look underneath them, you were able to see the huge diversity of life growing there. The entire underside was coated with mussels, sea anemones, crabs, tube worms and some massive starfish. Even though there was pouring rain on our heads, many of us lay belly-down right on the dock and stuck our arms into the water to try and explore and see what we could find.
We found so many amazing creatures under the dock, a place that many would consider murky and overgrown. Upon reaching into the water, your hands are greeted by countless organisms. There were tube worms that would sway with the water and react immediately to your touch, by completely retracting into their tube “homes”. Giant green anemones would grab onto your hands as you brushed over their stinging tentacles (not strong enough to hurt us of course). We found a massive starfish that we all loved (like our own child, we joked) and took far too many pictures with.
Later in the afternoon we traveled to South Cove, which blew the fun at the dock out of the water. The beach was surrounded by massive steep cliffs, and forest. The way down was treacherous and muddy but had one of the most scenic views I had ever seen. The tides were low and once we finally had our feet on the ground, we spread out towards the tide pools to begin doing some real searching. Exploring between the rocks made me feel like a little kid again. Under any given rock you could find clusters of crabs that would disperse frantically to find a new home. Sea anemones and mussels grew on any and every available surface, while sea urchins were filling countless burrows that they themselves had carved into the rock. The weather went from hot to cold, sunny to rainy, and vice versa in an instant, while the waves would come in, making the environment we were exploring completely different from one moment to the next.
Once we’d gathered enough starfish (which admittedly, we went a tad crazy on) and other organisms, we headed back to the lab, to place them in ocean water. All of the creatures we gathered today will hopefully be very important in the research that we will be doing in the coming two weeks!