Field Trip to the Cape Perpetua Marine Reserve in Yachats

With Oregon State University PHD Student, Silke Bachhuber, to explore one of her research sites

July 2022

The Oregon Shell Club provides scholarships each year to college students doing research on Molluscs in Oregon. Third and fourth year undergraduates, graduate students and post doctoral researchers are eligible to apply. Silke Bachhuber, a PhD student at Oregon State University, is a recipient of a $500 scholarship to assist her with her travels from Corvallis to Yachats, Oregon and return to work on her rocky shore research sites. Silke’s research has focused on the impact of sea star wasting disease on the dynamics of intertidal organisms, such as the California mussel, Mytilus californianus Conrad, 1837. Sea Star Wasting Disease has decimated sea star populations in the Pacific Northwest for the past 9 or 10 years. The Ochre sea star is an apex predator on the California mussel and, in its absence, mussel populations have expanded dramatically. Silke’s research sites are set up to determine the role of other mollusks, such as the Northern Striped Dogwinkle, Nucella ostrina (Gould, 1852) in controlling mussel populations. The shell club’s field trip was limited to just one of Silke’s research sites where participants got to see how the study areas were set up. Twenty people attended the field trip.

To access the research site, club members and guests had to climb down a steep embankment.

Silke Bachhuber giving an orientation to the group once everyone made it down the steep embankment.

Then we hiked over the rocks out to the research site.

Rocky shore is covered by California mussels and Acorn barnacles. Large, healthy Ochre sea stars (orange and purple) can been seen clinging to the rocks at low tide.

California mussels completely cover the solid rock shore area.

This is a small plot at the research site. The square frame is made of copper. Sea snail species will not cross over the copper barrier into the research area.

Two small research plots are demarcated with green or blue plastic cords attached to spikes embedded into the rock. One square research plot has had all organisms removed from it while the other has not.

Silke provides a lot of one-on-one time with field trip participants.

A close-up of a purple-colored Ochre sea star. The yellowish organism on the arm of the sea star is a 'scale worm'. The scale worm is feeding on detritus on the outer surface of the sea star.

Kayak Adventures with Laurelyn

June 2022: Program Presentation by club member, Laurelyn Schellin

Laurelyn did a PowerPoint presentation on her kayak adventures in the Salish Sea, San Juan Islands, Chuckanut Bay and Bellingham Bay, Washington. We learned about the sea star wasting disease/syndrome has impacted populations in that area and saw how she harvests crabs from her kayak. Laurelyn also showed us fossil/petrified palm trees embedded in the bank of Bellingham Bay at low tide.

Laurelyn standing near shore holding a Dungeness crab.

Laurelyn in her kayak with a crab pot containing crabs.

Laurelyn viewing petrified palm trees on the bank at low tide in Bellingham Bay.