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Tillamook Coast Life Blog

Grant’s Getaways: Explore Nature Series

The Oceanside Beach State Recreation Area offers tide pools that are meant for exploration.

On a recent sun kissed day, scores of visitors strolled across the flat sand beach to meet low tide near the towering Three Arch Rocks.

If you’re lucky, Chrissy Smith, a volunteer teacher with the Explore Nature Tillamook Coast program, will be on hand to show and tell you more.

“I have always loved places like this tide pool area because at first, you see just a few things – but then, the more you peer into the pools you’re going to discover so much more marine life – the number and variety of sea life is incredible,” she said.

Visitors walk, kneel and peer to see a wealth of sea stars, urchins and anemones at this Oregon State Park.

The Oceanside Tidepools draw more than three hundred thousand folks each year.

So, no surprise, visitors have many questions, according to State Park Ranger Travis Korbe.

“They want to know what they’re looking at, the species, both plant and animal. A very common question today is: ‘How are the sea stars doing?’ Because we’ve had the sea star wasting disease. They also want to know what they can do to protect this marine eco-system.”

For the past three years, eight different nonprofit coastal organizations have partnered to provide answers about this coastal eco-system through the Tillamook County-based program called Explore Nature.

The program has quickly grown to become extremely popular, according to Smith. She said the first year, Explore Nature offered a dozen activities, but this year there are more than 60 in a season stretching from April through November.

“Most people have a lot of questions that center on the ‘why’ of all things coastal. Why is our coastline like this? Why do we have headlands? This place in particular is so amazing,” Korbe said.

That much is certain on a day too nice to stay indoors – and then you discover that tide pooling is but one activity in the Explore Nature program.

Volunteers like Smith also lead trips to visit nearby oyster farms or hike to the end of Cape Lookout or paddle a kayak across Netarts Bay or dig a limit of bay clams.

Explore Nature will show you how it’s all done and perhaps the best part: the activities are free and open to all.

Smith is a big believer that understanding a place leads to appreciation and then respect for Oregon’s coastal environment. It’s what Explore Nature is all about.

A Picture of Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who is putting his adventurous spirit to discovering and sharing with viewers places around Tillamook. He writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth-generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.