Local experts lead the hunt for sea stars during Lincoln City’s Tide Pool Clinics, a fun and educational way to explore Lincoln City’s rocky shores. Beginning in March, the Lincoln City Visitor & Convention Bureau will partner with the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition (aka CoastWatch) to provide a fun opportunity for visitors to learn about intertidal marine life. Clinic leader Fawn Custer, of CoastWatch, is excited to share her knowledge and expertise of marine conservation.
“We have a very dynamic coastline,” says Custer. “As the tides rush in and out, the marine organisms that live there have to adapt to these conditions. That is why our tide pools are much more diverse than other coastal areas. They are constantly changing with every tide.” Custer brings 25-plus years of teaching experience to this year’s Tide Pool Clinics. As the Volunteer Coordinator for CoastWatch, she has worked with over 1,300 volunteers along the Oregon Coast to educate students about marine science in the region.
“My favorite part about teaching marine science is that I am learning as well. Whether it’s from my students or from the class, I love discovering something new.” Assisting Custer with the Tide Pool Clinics is Athena Crichton, from the Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center. Educated at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Oregon State University, Crichton has spent the last 16 years teaching courses at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. She also teaches marine education at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
With the recent resurgence of sea star populations, Custer expects visitors to see a few this spring. “Since 2013, we have seen a slow and steady increase in the populations. We would love to have participants help us count and measure them at the clinics.” When the tide gradually recedes along the beach, exposed rocks reveal small pools of water where colorful, exotic creatures reside. Sea stars live side by side with sea anemones and sea urchins, creating a cornucopia of colors that surrounds the rocky shores. These are just a few of the coastal marine creatures that visitors can discover and learn more about at the Tide Pool Clinics.
Clinics are held at the NW 15th Street beach access in Lincoln City, one of the most accessible locations for tide pooling on the Oregon Coast. These free clinics begin with a brief orientation from Custer and Crichton, where they will describe local marine habitat and the types of creatures’ participants may discover. They will then take attendees on a guided tide pool tour. Clinics last for approximately one hour and participants are encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback.
The first Tide Pool Clinic is Thursday, March 9th at 3:30pm. The next clinic will be held the weekend of April 1st and 2nd. Participants should plan to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early and dress in layers for Oregon Coast weather. Parking is available along NW 15th Street and at the Seagull Beachfront Motel parking lot.
The Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition (CoastWatch) is a proud sponsor of the Tide Pool Clinics. CoastWatch is a private non-profit organization dedicated to conservation and education of the Oregon Coast region. Learn more about CoastWatch by visiting OregonShores.org. For more information on the Tide Pool Clinics, call 800-452-2151 or visit OregonCoast.org.