Tide Pooling at Cannon Beach, Oregon

In the midst of a busy new job and new city/state, we are working hard to balance settling in with some fun exploration every weekend. I was describing this to a new colleague and she shared that when she and her husband first moved to Oregon they coined the term “Exploregon” to describe this type of exploration. I love this and so I am adopting this term for fun times that we experience. One of our first exploregon adventures was tide pooling.

Haystack Rock

For those that aren’t familiar with tide pooling, let me share a bit more. Tide pools are the rocky pools by oceans that are filled with seawater. Many of these pools exist as separate entities only at low tide. What happens is at low tide you are able to walk into these areas and get right up close to sea life that normally would be only observable underwater. We had read that some of the best tide pooling in Oregon was at Cannon Beach, Oregon at Haystack Rock. After a bit of research we found an opportune time when we were able to drive to the coast and the tide would be as low as it ever is, about one foot below sea level.

Sea Stars and Sea Anemones

When we arrived, we could see a couple dozen people clamoring around Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach. As we got closer what we saw was pretty spectacular and something neither my husband or I had ever experienced. Not only were the pools crawling with life, there were naturalists available to answer questions. There were only a couple basic rules: walking on the sand or the rocks you may touch the species you see, but do not move any creature from it’s current location.

Growing up in Minnesota didn’t give me an opportunity to experience any salt water tide pooling and while I’ve been to the ocean before, I’ve never visited when the tide was as low as it was on this day allowing us to explore so much. It was a bit overwhelming to see all of the life that is never evident to the casual eye, but exists just below the surface of the water. We saw Sea Stars and Sea Anemones by the hundreds and their colors were vibrant and beautiful. It felt surreal walking amongst all of the species that are so unknown to me and realizing it was the first time in my life that I was having this type of experience.

Tide pooling at Haystack Rock

It made me remember a quote by Thoreau:

We need the tonic of wildness. At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.

This tide pooling experience and realization of new exploration was invigorating. It was a great reminder to me that there are so many wonderful things to still experience in Oregon and in life. Carpe Diem!

2 comments to Tide Pooling at Cannon Beach, Oregon

  • Kathryn O'Connell

    Hey Kimberly!
    I am sitting at MacPhail listening to my daughter’s piano lesson and reading your blog. Just wanted to say how much I loved this tide pooling story. How cool! Hope to experience this someday, too.
    Keep up the great writing!

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