Last weekend my son and I hit the road and headed for the coast. I was seizing this opportunity for a mini-vacation for Bode because I know all too well how summer can slip away in a blink of an eye. The beach is by far one of my favorite summer destinations and with a son in tow it has become an absolute must.
This time instead of heading to just any beach, I thought that we would visit some tide pools. Not to say that the ordinary Oregon beaches aren't spectacular in themselves, I just thought I would expose my son to an interactive environment incredibly rich in learning opportunities that he's never been before. My internet research pointed us in the direction of Yaquina Head. With my co-pilot on board (AKA "Robin) and mama at the wheel (for purposes of this trip let's just say my name was "Batman"), the car (Bat Mobile) was fueled up and ready for some adventure!
When we arrived mid-afternoon, it was unfortunately high tide, and, of course, the best time to visit a tide pool is low tide (which comes 2 times a day). We were staying at the coast a few days and so planned to return in the morning during low tide. We explored where we could this 1st day, and visited the Interpretation Center on our way out.
We were able to look out onto the cliffs with power-binoculars that the interpreters provided and view the sea gulls and albatrosses. Even 2 gull chicks. They were all clustered on the top of a huge bird poop-stained rock. We learned that the albatrosses actually use the bird poop as glue for their nests so they don't blow away in the wind!
Also we walked down onto the beach that was filled with rounded basalt cobble stones. This was a result of volcanic activity and weathering from the ocean waves.
Then on our way out we stopped at the Interpretation Center and picked up this lovely book: In One Tidepool: Crabs, Snails and Salty Tails, by Anthony D. Frederick.
That night, once we settled into our hotel, I read to Bode our new book. Each page introduces a new creature that is found in a tide pool with beautiful pictures, and rhyming verse. I felt this was the perfect introduction to what we might see in the next day. (*note: the author has compiled a number of activities to accompany the book here)
In the morning, we returned in anticipation for low tide, which just happened to occur at the very perfect late morning hour of 10 AM. We were sure to wear closed-toed shoes for easy walking.
This time around the outcropping of rocks were visible as the tide had gone out quite significantly.
As we walked out onto the rocks we were very careful where we stepped. We avoided stepping on and hurting the sea life, such as this colony of mussels.
An interpreter was present and taught us about the behaviors of the tide pool creatures. Like, for instance, when sea stars are eating they turn themselves inside out. One of their favorite things to eat are mussels.
We saw sea stars of all different colors — oranges, purples and pinks. Despite this difference among them, we learned that the ones we saw in the tide pool were in fact all of the same species.
I love how the sea stars look all together like this!
Aggregating anemone (the green circular creature), and coralline algae (the coral-like plant) were a common sight in the pools.
The interpreter illustrated to us first that it was OK to touch the anemones. Bode was brave and got right in there. I, on the other hand, was the one who shrieked because of the sensation! It was quite a thrill.
The anemone's mouth (the center of the creature) is surrounded by feeding tentacles that look to me like petals of a flower. When touched, these tentacles close up and are capable of stinging crustaceans, fish and the like. When a human touches these anemones, however, we feel a stickiness. The stinging cells of the anemone cannot penetrate through the flesh on our hands — fortunately!
Purple urchins also dotted the pools. These were also "touchable".
Holding a crab!
I was fascinated to stumble upon this "red sponge" that looked like red spilled liquid.
When our exploration felt complete, we elected to top off the day by climbing the historic Yaquina lighthouse positioned on the cliffside above.
Built in 1870, the guide told us of how the lighthouse keeper used to have to lug heavy containers of oil to keep the lighthouse lit at night. Still a functioning lighthouse, electricity has replaced the need for oil.
Here is Bode climbing the 114 steps to the top!
What a day we had! It was music to my ears to hear my son say as we drove away, "Thank you, mom. That was actually a lot of fun!" I think we will be returning here many times to come!
Thanks for coming by and checking this out. Remember to "like" me on my Facebook Page if you want to stay informed of more kid activity ideas I post or find around the blogosphere! Have a wonderful day.
And now onward to our weekly linky party! Enjoy!