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Cannon Beach's Monthly Nature Talks Explore Layers of Oregon Coast Nerdy Fun

Published 1/10/24 at 2:25 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Cannon Beach's Monthly Nature Talks Explore Layers of Oregon Coast Nerdy Fun

(Cannon Beach, Oregon) - Cannon Beach is smack dab in the middle of some of the most fun that beach fans and science nerds can have along the Oregon coast: the Nature Talks: Exploring Nature's Treasures Together series. Formerly the Haystack Lecture series, they always take place on the second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., now at the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce building at 207 N. Spruce Street. (Bull kelp photo Roy Lowe, one of the speakers for the festival)

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Put together by the Friends of Haystack Rock, the Nature Talks are one of the Oregon coast's little treasures. Here is the lineup for the series, which runs through April.

The second in the series happens tonight, January 10 at 6 p.m. It features Hatfield Marine Science Center scientist Anna Bolm with a talk on “Not All Who Wander Are Lost: Monitoring Plankton off the Oregon Coast.”

Bolm, a phytoplankton ecologist at the Hatfield, delves into the microscopic world of plankton- wandering marine plants and animals. Don't let their small size fool you, plankton make up the largest reservoir of biomass in the Earth's oceans, fueling the food web from salmon, to sea birds, to humans and everything in between.

You'll dig into what plankton are and how we can track them to learn more about the animals we love and their changing environment.

On February 14, it's Katie Voelke and Angela Whitlock from the North Coast Land Conservancy (NCLC) talking about “Living Amongst the Green Giants: From anemones to old-growth trees, a celebration of life on the Oregon Coast.”

This coastline is home to some of the most immense life forces on the planet, with the Pacific Ocean and the rainforest coming together at the sea cliffs. That's why, Voelke said, the NCLC does its work in the region, protecting and caring for this rarefied place and its vast biodiversity. You'll get an evening of celebrating life among these lands and waters—from the coastal prairies and wetlands to the peaks of the Coast Range and from the dynamic rocky intertidal to the expansive Cape Falcon Marine Reserve - and learn about the incredible impacts of local conservation by the NCLC.

Next up is March 13, where the subject turns to “Shorebirds: Elegant Travelers on Long Distance Journeys.” The speaker is Roy Lowe, formerly with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The talk covers the shorebirds we see on the Oregon coast in spring, summer and fall, which use the beaches and estuaries to feed and rest, a regular stop on their migrations. Shorebirds breeding in North America migrate extremely long distances to winter in the Southern Hemisphere on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Some individuals visit two or three continents during their annual journeys.

“While shorebirds are very capable fliers their survival is dependent on international conservation efforts around the globe,” Lowe said.

Lowe's photographs of regional coastal wildlife are rather legendary. His career also includes having been the Refuge Manager of the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

The final gig in the talks happens April 10, where law professor Chris Wold goes into “Protecting Public Access to Oregon’s Shores” - a subject that should be important to anyone who has ever visited these beaches.

Since the early 1900s, Oregon has granted public access to its beautiful beaches, said Wold. In the 1960s, however, that access was threatened when a Cannon Beach motel sought to privatize the beach in front of the hotel. The Oregon Supreme Court stepped in and, using a legal theory that has been used only in Oregon and Hawaii, guaranteed the public’s access to beaches like Cannon Beach. While it is commonly said that the public has access to the entire 362-mile Oregon Coast, that is not true. This presentation reviews the history and limits of public access to Oregon’s beaches and new challenges to Oregon’s shores from climate change.

Chris Wold is a Professor of Law at Lewis & Clark Law School where he teaches Ocean and Coastal Law and other environmental and international law courses. He has represented governments at meetings of the International Whaling Commission, served as the legal advisor to the Convention on Migratory Species, and advised nongovernmental organizations at international meetings relating to tuna fisheries and biodiversity conservation. 

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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