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Get Ready for Starfish and More at Central Oregon Coast Tide Pool Clinics

Published 03/10/2017 at 4:03 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Get Ready for Starfish and More at Central Oregon Coast Tide Pool Clinics

(Lincoln City, Oregon) – Head to the central Oregon coast town of Lincoln City and find yourself among the stars – sea stars, that is. A pair of local beach experts will be leading Lincoln City's Tide Pool Clinics, a guided search for fascinating finds in the rocky areas close to the tideline.

With one session having already off the season in March, the months of April, May and June will have plenty of the outdoor gatherings. They happen because of a unique partnership with the environmental and science volunteer group CoastWatch and the Lincoln City Visitor & Convention Bureau. Together, these two expansive Oregon coast agencies provide a fun opportunity for visitors to learn about intertidal marine life. Clinic leader Fawn Custer, of CoastWatch, is excited to share her knowledge and expertise of marine conservation.

"We have a very dynamic coastline," said Custer. "As the tides rush in and out, the marine organisms that live there have to adapt to these conditions. That is why our tide pools are much more diverse than other coastal areas. They are constantly changing with every tide."

Custer is a much-revered expert on beach and marine subjects, bringing more than 25 years of teaching experience to the tide pool clinics. She is also the Volunteer Coordinator for CoastWatch, having worked with over 1,300 volunteers along the Oregon coast to educate students about marine science in the region.

"My favorite part about teaching marine science is that I am learning as well,” she said. “Whether it's from my students or from the class, I love discovering something new."

Assisting Custer with the tide pool clinics is Athena Crichton, from Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Educated at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Oregon State University, Crichton has spent the last 16 years teaching courses at the Hatfield Marine Science Center. She also teaches marine education at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Now that the sea star populations have been on the rebound since a devastating disease a few years ago, Custer expects visitors to see plenty this spring.

"Since 2013, we have seen a slow and steady increase in the populations,” Custer said. “We would love to have participants help us count and measure them at the clinics."

When the tide gradually recedes along the beach, exposed rocks reveal small pools of water where colorful, exotic creatures reside. Sea stars live side by side with sea anemones, sea urchins and a wide array of creatures stuffed into a small space, creating a cornucopia of colors that surrounds the rocky shores. These are just a few of the coastal marine creatures that visitors can discover and learn more about at the tide pool clinics.

Clinics are held at the NW 15th Street beach access in Lincoln City, one of the most accessible locations for tide pooling on the Oregon coast. These free clinics begin with a brief orientation from Custer and Crichton, where they will describe local marine habitat and the types of creatures' participants may discover. They will then take attendees on a guided tide pool tour. Clinics last for approximately one hour and participants are encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback.

Participants should plan to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early and dress in layers for Oregon coast weather. Parking is available along NW 15th Street and at the Seagull Beachfront Motel parking lot.

The first Tide Pool Clinic happened already this past week. The other upcoming dates in April are: April 1 at 10:30 a.m., April 2 at 11:30 a.m., April 29 at 9 a.m. and April 30 at 10 a.m. In May they are Tuesday, May 2 at noon; Saturday, May 13 at 8:30 a.m.; Sunday, May 14 at 9:30 a.m. and Monday, May 29 at 10 a.m.

The June dates are Sunday, June 11 at 8:30 a.m., and Tuesday, June 13 at 10 a.m.

The Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition (CoastWatch) is a proud sponsor of the Tide Pool Clinics. CoastWatch is a private non-profit organization dedicated to conservation and education of the Oregon Coast region. Learn more about CoastWatch by visiting - Lincoln City Hotels/Lodgings for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

For more information on the Tide Pool Clinics, call 800-452-2151 or visit

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