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Oceanside Tidepool Events: Among Finds Are 'Anenome Clone Wars' Beneath Oregon Coast

Published 06/08/22 at 3:25 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Oceanside Tidepool Events: Among Finds Are 'Anenome Clone Wars' Beneath Oregon Coast

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(Oceanside, Oregon) – Dare to seriously enter the realm of Oregon coast tidepools. (Photo of Oceanside, Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

In Oceanside, the Friends of Netarts Bay Watershed, Estuary, Beach and Sea (WEBS) is putting together four days of exploring the village's tidepools and digging down into some wild factoids about these seemingly placid, beautiful creatures. In conjunction with Explore Nature Tillamook Coast, the groups are holding Tide Pool Discovery Days on June 15, 16, 17 and 18.

On Wednesday, June 15 it begins at 8 a.m. Thursday, June 16 it starts at 9 a.m. Friday, June 18 it starts at 9 a.m., and on Saturday, June 18 the show goes on at 10 a.m. All take place at the main entrance to Oceanside's beach, known as Oceanside Beach State Recreation Site.

WEBS staff will help you look a little closer at the creatures lurking at the water's edge, living half beneath the waves and half out in the air. You'll get to learn about how sea stars eat (and yes, they are not called starfish anymore). They'll explain what hermit crabs do in these tiny ecosystems, and how they steal shells from other crabs.

Photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium

“From seaweeds to sculpin fish, there is an otherworldly place to discover,” WEBS staff said in a release on the event.

Then there is the bizarre world of sea anemone “clone wars.” Yes, this is a thing.

What are anemone clone wars? There are some truly weird, rather slow-motion battles going on beneath the Oregon coast.

According marine biologists around the world, anemones have been observed fighting each other – with actual armies of them pitted against the other side. Scientists noticed this around the late '60s, finding that the soft, squishy little creatures have some tentacles that are not used for grabbing food. In fact, there are some “warrior” classes born into the populations of anemones that have more of these than others. (Photo: tidepool life at Oceanside)

Especially along the west coast and Oregon coast, there are species of anemones that like to stick to themselves and their own kind. Each patch is made up of creatures that are indeed clones of each other: they have the exact same DNA as their neighbor in the deep.

Scientists have observed they live in patches separate from each other, with a little empty area between them. Periodically, others will break off and wander down this narrow stretch, often getting attacked. In aquarium laboratories, scientists have observed some startling behavior that sounds akin to a monster in Dr. Who. The experiments always included a mimicking of tidal action coming in and going out. When the tide came in, they've encountered groups of anemones almost suddenly appearing in an attack stance: bent over with bodies and tentacles all puffed up.

You'll have to stick around to get the full story.

WEBS said not to wear flip-flops, as these are always a bad idea in tidepools. Wear boots or bring a change of shoes – expect to get wet.

To be a part of these, you'll have to register ahead of time at the WEBS EventBrite site. It is free to attend, however.

“We understand everyone learns and experiences the outdoors differently and we are open to working with anyone that needs additional support,” WEBS said. “We have limited capacity. Please contact us in advance so we can do our best to accommodate your needs and/or find a way for you or your group to have fun participating in our events.”

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