Shorebirds: Black Oystercatchers

Shorebirds: Black Oystercatchers


Black Oystercatcher

You have a wee community

Along our Northwestern rocky shores (1)

Ye nest on our islands and near our forests (2)

Calling out to us

With your high pitched sound

“Wheep, wheep”

“Wheep, wheep” (3)

You stop to stare at us

With your bright yellowish-orange eyes

Than walk slowly and steadily over to a pile of mussels

You fastidiously pierce at them

With your lovely orange jackhammer of a beak

Opening them to get the tasty morsels inside

They sit in your beak for only a few seconds

Then they are out of sight

Conservation of Black Oystercatcher:

            Worldwide estimates gathered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service count this shorebirds population to have only 11,000 members of its community left (4). The Black Oystercatcher may be an indicator of overall health along our shorelines. This is why some consider this shoreline critter as a keystone species. Some main threats to black oystercatchers include oil spills, human interference, urban sprawl, and de-forestation. (5). According to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, “management plans to protect the black oystercatcher are being developed and will likely begin with signage at key nesting sites to prevent disturbance by recreationists” (6).

Extra Shorebird Conservation Sites and Black Oystercatcher Information Sites:

Shorebirds References:

(1) Paulson D. 1993. Shorebirds of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press: Seattle and London. Seattle Audubon Society.

(2) ibid.

(3) ibid.

(4) Monterey Bay [Website]. 2016. [Cited Feb. 14th 2016]. Available From:

(5) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office [Website]. 2009-2016. [Cited Feb. 14th 2016]. Available From:

(6) ibid.

Shorebirds: Black Oystercatchers

Clownfish & Coral Reefs



Fantastic, clownfish that starts out as a male (1)

Your mate dies (1)

And you become a “dominant female” (1)

To mate with one of the other males present within your school

You spend most of your time amongst the writhing tentacles of a sea anemone

Because you’re immune to its sting

It’s a mutualistic relationship with the anemone

Which helps protect you from predators

And you do the same for it

You’re omnivorous aquatic fish (2)

Which means that you eat plants and animals

But where you get your prey

Depends on what kind of clownfish you are

And where you hang your hat (3)

Your, mainly dazzling orange with black and white striped coloring

Is a truly exotic aquatic sight to behold

Information and Conservation of Coral Reefs:

Coral reefs hold a within them a very diverse realm of marine species and this includes clownfish. Coral reefs help provide extra barriers for us during stormy weather. They also provide many jobs that involve the fishing industry and ecotourism. Many human activities are destroying this valuable ecosystem at a rapid pace. The results of our activities have caused major pollution, coral bleaching, overexploitation of many marine species, invasive species to inhabit certain reefs, certain diseases to occur, and changes within our climate.

Coral bleaching is where high temperature changes caused by global warming within our ocean waters weaken and destroy the Zooxanthellae, an important food source, within the coral reefs. If the zooxanthellae die the corals themselves will eventually turn white, follow suit and die. According to the Coral Reef Alliance Website it states that “Occupying less than one percent of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to more than twenty-five percent of marine life… A highly biodiverse ecosystem, one with many different species, is often more resilient to changing conditions and can better withstand significant disturbances” (4). If we lose our coral reef environments we lose all of the amazing species that live within them which will in turn cause a massive breakdown in the oceanic food web. This will forever change our oceans and how many of our society survives.

If we want to save coral reefs, there are a number of things we can do. It begins with learning about the reefs and the various species they support. There are many education and training programs which focus on reef ecology and the importance of reefs to humans (such as pharmaceuticals developed from reef organisms) and its fragile ecosystem. Zoos and aquariums can also offer information about conservation efforts. There are plenty of outreach programs and supporting the reefs includes making your own outreach efforts by educating friends and family. If you dive, “Take only pictures and leave only bubbles” (5).

Make sure all related businesses you purchase from are using ecologically sound practices- from local fish sellers (edible or pet) to dive shops, boat stores and tour guides. Be an informed consumer and ask questions; how was that pretty aquarium coral collected? Is it legally harvested and sustainable?  If you come across someone who seems uninformed or ambivalent, let them know the reason you are taking your business elsewhere.

Website Information on Clownfish and the Conservation of Coral Reefs: .

Clownfish References:

(1) A-Z [Website 2008-2016]. Clown Fish. [Cited Feb. 24th, 2016]. Available From:

(2) ibid.

(3) ibid.

(4) Coral Reef Alliance [Website 2014-2016]. Coral Reef Biodiversity. [Cited Feb. 25th, 2016. Available From:

(5) Outrigger: Hotels and Resorts .com [Website 2010-2015]. [Cited Mar. 2nd, 2016]. Available From:


Clownfish & Coral Reefs

Sea Otters

Sea Otters

Mammalian Keystone Predator of the Sea

Densest fur in the oceans and beyond hath he (1)

You keep it clean by rolling

In the ocean deep

While also grooming yourself

After having your urchin and shellfish feast

Ye lie on your bouyant back to stay afloat (2)

Whether day or night

It’s time to take a nap

Sweet Dreams, Good Night

Sea Otter Conservation Information:

The sea otter is well known keystone species within the Pacific Northwest.   There are only around 106,000 sea otters left all over Earth’s oceans (3). Sea otters are protected from harm all along the Pacific Coastline in the United States of America by the Endangered Species Act of 1972 and the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. This means that no one can hunt sea otters or sell and trade their pelts. However, Native Alaskans are exempt and can engage in small scale hunting and trade. These efforts are well monitored and, with government help, harvested according to plans that keep the sea otter community flourishing (4). In California, pollution is their greatest threat (5). So what we do as individuals matters. Pick up after your animals, bike, walk or bus, recycle, and support laws that help restore wetlands (6). With the recovery of sea otters, we are able to examine changes in nearshore marine communities to explore the impact of changes over time. Three strategies have helped increase our understanding: Looking at changes in in areas before and after sea otter recolonization, examining other nearshore areas over the same period and “experimentally manipulating community attributes” (7). There is opportunity for each of these strategies along the sea otters range. (8).

Additional Sea Otter Conservation and Information Sites:

Sea Otters References:

(1),  Sea Otter Conservation Information: Defenders of Wildlife [Website 2016]. Basic Facts about Sea Otters. [Cited Feb. 18th, 2016]. Available From:

(2) ibid

(3) ibid

(4) Doroff A. & Burdin A. 2015. Enhydra lutris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [Website 2016]. [Cited Feb. 19th, 2016]. Available From: and

(5) Aquarium of the Pacific [Website 2016]. Sea Otter Conservation: A Caring Public is Needed to Ensure Otter Survival. [Cited Feb. 19th, 2016]. Available From:


(7) U.S. Department of the Interior/ U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Alaska Science Center [Website 2015-2016]. Role of Sea Otters in Structuring Nearshore Communities. [Cited Feb. 19th, 2016].   Available From:

(8) ibid .

Sea Otters

Wolf Eels

Wolf Eels



Hello Mr. “Eyes-like Spots” (1)

Exquisitely Colorful and dark spotted as a Juvenile

You’re pretending to be a true eel

But, you’re really a fish

Still astonishing

In dark grey with black spots all over

As you get older

Growing ever so larger

Always slimy

This “protects your immune system” (2)

Fighting with Giant Pacific Octopuses

For the rights to your rocky bottom dwelling

To swim near you

And with you

Would be an honor

Information on Wolf Eels:

On the Website Total it states that the “Wolf Eel belongs to the endangered wolf fish family. These have been termed as species of concern by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service”(3). On the Monterey Bay Aquarium Website it states that “Scott Reid says, affectionately, of the wolf-eels he cares for at the Aquarium. “Their jaw is very strong, and if you got your finger in there you’d regret it. But they’re really slow. It may be a vicious looking eel, but it totally has the opposite temperament,” Reid says” (4).  Wolf eels eat plankton when they are young. They eat sea urchins, crabs, squid, and other shellfish when they reach adulthood. (5). Juveniles are more colorful when young and adult males turn to dark grey with blacker spots covering their bodies when they reach adulthood. While female wolf eels often have more of a brown color to them (6) . At this time, wolf eels are not in need of protection. But they still face threats, such as pollution, non-treated sewage, and getting caught on fishing gear that has been accidentally left out and or being used by fisherman (7).

Extra Websites on Information about Wolf Eels:

Wolf Eels References:

(1) Information on Wolf Eels: Love M. 1996. Probably More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes Of The Pacific Coast: A Humorous Guide To Pacific Fishes Second Edition. Really Big Press: Santa Barbara, California.

(2) Lamon P/Seattle [Website 2011-2016]. Winter Fishtival: Wolf Eel Fun Facts. [Cited Feb. 19th, 2016]. Available From:

(3) Total [Website 2016]. Wolf Eel. [Cited Feb. 19th, 2016]. Available From:

(4) Monterey Bay Aquarium [Website 2016]. [Cited Feb. 19th, 2016. Available From:

(5) ibid

(6) Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife [Website 2016]. Bottomfish Identification: Wrymouths and Eels: Wolf Eels. [Cited Mar. 14, 2016]. Available From:

(7) Monterey Bay Aquarium [Website 2016]. [Cited Feb. 19th, 2016. Available From:

Wolf Eels

Shelled Marine Creatures & Ocean Acidification

Shelled Marine Creatures: Ocean Acidification    

Pacific Pink Scallop      Rough Keyhole Limpet

Hi,                                                                                    Hi,

I’m a Bivalve and a Scallop                                      I’m a Rough Keyhole Limpet

Calcium carbonate helps form my shell             I live on rocky beaches (4)

My shell has two hinges                                          I am a grazer

Connected by adductor muscles (1)                      I use my radula to eat seaweed with

They keep my shell closed tight (1)                      I have a commensal relationship (5)

So predators have trouble getting at me           With the Red-banded Scaleworm (5)

I am also free swimming (2)                                  He is my friend

This is another way I can                                        We benefit from each other

Escape from predators                                            He eats detritus off of me (5)

I’m a filter feeder                                                      I give him shelter

This means that I eat plankton                            I’m a Rough Keyhole Limpet

I do so by using my cilia (3)

I also have byssal threads

They attach me to things

Across the immense ocean floor

I’m a Bivalve and a Scallop

What is Ocean Acidification? Why is it Our Problem?

Much of the Carbon Dioxide that we are putting into our atmosphere is absorbed by our oceans. This has led to making our oceans more acidic, which affects the way many marine species (shellfish, plankton, and corals) create their shells, skeletons, and other important structures through the loss of calcium carbonate. Oceanic acididification also directly harms the larvae of many of these creatures (6). According to the Smithsonian Institution “Some of the major impacts on these organisms go beyond adult shell-building, however. Mussels’ byssal threads, with which they famously cling to rocks in the pounding surf, can’t hold on as well in acidic water. Meanwhile, oyster larvae fail to even begin growing their shells. In their first 48 hours of life, oyster larvae undergo a massive growth spurt, building their shells quickly so they can start feeding. But the more acidic seawater eats away at their shells before they can form; this has already caused massive oyster die-offs in the U.S. Pacific Northwest” (7). As you can see, ocean acidification not only hurts individual creatures, it unravels whole food webs within our oceans. This also impacts people who enjoy and depend on eating fish and sea foods, and some people’s entire lives revolve around fishing and shellfish.

Extra Websites that Discuss Ocean Acidification:

Extra Websites that Discuss Issues and Information Involving Shelled Marine Creatures:

Shelled Marine Creatures: Ocean Acidification References:

(1)Kennedy J./ [Website 2016]. About Education: 10 Facts About Scallops: Learn About the Scallop, a Popular Seafood. [Cited Feb. 13th, 2016]. Available From:

(2) ibid.

(3) ibid.

(4) Duane Sept J. 1999-2009. The Beachcomber’s Guide to Seashore Life in the Pacific Northwest, Revised Edition. Harbour Publishing: Madeira Park, British Columbia: Canada.

(5) ibid.

(6) Castro P and Hunter ME. 2013. Marine Biology, Ninth Edition. McGraw Hill: NY, New York.

(7) Smithsonian Institute: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Ocean Portal: Find Your Blue [Website 2015]. [Cited Feb. 13th, 2016].                                                               Available From: acidification.



Shelled Marine Creatures & Ocean Acidification

Giant Pacific Octopus

Giant Pacific Octopus

Hiding in a den near the ocean floor

This nocturnal eight armed, two to three hundred suction cupped beauty

Waits patiently to catch its daily food source

Which usually can consist of crabs, clams, lobsters, sharks, birds

Or sometimes even each other

When predators like sharks try to strike

Shoot out a spray of

And like greased lightning is out of sight

Some Extra Fun Facts about the Giant Pacific Octopus:

Giant Pacific Octopuses are very intelligent and can solve the same puzzles over and over again. GPO’s, like humans and other mammals, also have both long-term and short-term memory (1). GPO’s can also change color using cells called chromatophores to camouflage themselves within the marine environment, protect themselves from predators, or show certain emotions.

Sites for Added Information on the Giant Pacific Octopus:

Giant Pacific Octopus References:

(1) [Website]. 1998-2015. [cited Feb. 12th, 2016]. Available From:


Giant Pacific Octopus


The Vanishing Sea-Stars


All across the tide pools, on the pilings, and near the Edmonds docks.

Crawled the many armed invertebrate echinoderms in flocks.                

People used to look for them on warm and sunny low-tide

Mornings, afternoons, or evenings too

Now many are gone from us too soon.

A potential virus unleashed is killing them off.

And many scientists don’t know the full effects of this loss

Even with their adaptability to regenerate their limbs or an entire new star

I fear that these wonderful five to twenty four or more armed keystone species

Might be forever damaged and forgotten

Sea-Stars in photos and told in stories for future generations

Will be the only memory left for our children to understand

What alluringly, gorgeous marine animals they truly are

Explanation of the Issue of Sea-Star Wasting Disease:

All along the Pacific coast from Vancouver B.C. to Southern California there is a great loss of life among the sea star community. The outbreak of this disease is known as sea-star wasting disease. Twenty or more different sea star species are known to have this disease. Some of the symptoms sea stars exhibit before death are lesions, loss of turgor, and behavioral changes. Scientists suggest that a viral microscopic organism called a densovirus may be causing the loss of these echinoderm species. At this time the disease is being researched by marine biologists and other researchers at the Seattle Aquarium, University of Washington, Cornell University, University of California in both Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara, and a plethora of other Universities and organizations (1). This information will be updated as more research becomes available.

Here is Some Sea Star Information Sites and some more Information about Sea Star Wasting Disease (SSWD):

Sea-Stars References:

(1) Hewson I, Button JB, Gudenkauf BM, Miner B, Newton AL, Gaydos JK, Wynne J, Groves CL, Hendler G, Murray M, Fradkin S, Breitbart M, Fahsbender E, Lafferty KD, Kilpatrick AM, Miner CM, Raimondi P, Lahner L, Friedman CS, Daniels S, Haulena M, Marliave J, Burge CA, Eisenlord ME, and Harvell CD. 2014. Densovirus associated with sea-star wasting disease and mass mortality. PNAS Early Edition: Microbiology 111:48 Pgs. 1-6. Edited by Van Etten JL, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. [cited Feb. 10, 2016]. Available From: