High Cliff, Steep Trail
Monday, May 7 – Florida Tech Oceanography hits the rocky intertidal of Middle Cove (Cape Arago, Oregon). Up on the Cliffside, the view is breathtaking, and we spent some time at the point lookout scanning the ocean for sign of migrating gray whales (to no avail…). The path to Middle Cove is unofficial, and a bit steep – exciting! Middle cove is part of a coastal geological formation that is 10-50 million years old (Miocene/Eocene) and there are many marine fossils to be found in the rock. Some of the students collected fossils in the rocky intertidal zone, including the fossil of an extinct sand dollar Eoscutella coosensis (named after nearby Coos Bay) and various types of clams (Bivalvia) and snails (Gastropoda), so we are touching on geological oceanography as well. Being a very exposed cove, there is an accumulation of driftwood logs from trees falling into the ocean from the cliff’s edge.
Someone had built a fort or hut out of driftwood, which the Florida Tech students explored. Because there is no official path down to this cove, it is not heavily impacted by human visitation (aside from the occasional driftwood hut!). For that reason, the Florida Tech oceanography students were very careful to tread lightly, replace rocks to their proper positions after overturning, and only take organisms sparingly.