Extreme Exposure

Sunday, May 6 – Florida Tech Oceanography in Florida begins in earnest now that we have settled into our host facility.  The first 6 days of our visit are going to have early morning, negative tides, and we will be visiting new habitats with each one. The host lab is in Charleston, Oregon, and within a 10 minute drive of every type of coastal marine habitat imaginable. This first morning, with low tide before dawn, we went to “Norton Gulch”, a secluded rocky intertidal habitat and a great place for our Florida Tech Oceanography class. For almost all of the students, it was their first tide pool trip in the Pacific Northwest, so I had to encourage them to move to the water’s edge and not get caught up in the fascinating critters higher on the shore – time enough for that later when the rising tide pushes us back. The tide was -2.2 and the water’s edge was clear out on the most exposed rocky coastline – exciting! We don’t often get tides like that in Florida and it is exciting to study oceanography at a place that has such dynamic daily phenomena. At one point I noticed we were nearly standing on the kelp Postelsia palmaeformis, a disturbance-dependent species that is a strong indicator that we are standing in a fairly dangerous place – at least it would be dangerous if the seas were rougher or the water level was up a little higher. Watch out for sneaker waves!

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