Sandy Shores

sandy-shoresA shoreline is how most human beings experience the ocean. Standing with your feet in the sand and staring out at the waves has inspired everything from epic poems to artistic masterpieces. It is from this vantage point that we can first experience the awe and mystery of the ocean. Our Sandy Shores exhibit helps our visitors to not only recreate that awe-inspired feeling, but to understand the complexity of this teeming but narrow ecosystem where the land meets the water.

Here, much of the life is hidden beneath the sand or in the cracks between rocks. Many surf zone animals bury themselves to escape the drying sun and the sharp eyes of shorebirds and marine predators. The animals of the sandy shores can also be so tiny they almost escape observation, but even the smallest still play a vital role in nature’s constant cycle of life.One of the highlights of the Sandy Shores gallery includes a freestanding pier pilings exhibit. This 4,730-gallon tank replicates the unique habitat formed by docks and piers where anemones and mussels encrust the human-made features and Dungeness Crabs scuttle along the bottom. Nearby, a separate exhibit replicates the constant ebb and flow of the surf against a tide pool filled with anemones, sculpins and oysters. Other exhibits display the natural habitats of the delicate Sea Pen and the curious-looking flatfish. In all, the gallery holds thirteen separate exhibits.

The OCEAN TODAY kiosk provides near-real-time updates on weather and conservation issues from all over the world courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the form of videos and interactive programs. The kiosk also provides a feature called “Oregon Today” which provides information of local interest dealing with our coastal waters, beaches and marine wildlife. All the features change regularly, so check them out during your next visit to the Aquarium!  The kiosk’s technology, which includes interactive touch-screens, was donated by Panasonic to the Aquarium through its affiliation with the Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers.

What lives here?

American Beach Grass

Ammophila breviligulata

This plant is not part of an Aquarium exhibit, but is rather a wild species which lives in on the sandy shores of Oregon. It is included here as part of the Aquarium's broad mission to educate about the entirety of the Oregon coastline.

Bay Pipefish

Syngnathus leptorhynchus

Visitors to the Aquarium often have to look very carefully to spot the delicate, bright-green bodies of our resident Bay Pipefish.

Dungeness Crab

Cancer magister

Oregon is famous for its Dungeness crabs. These crustaceans are harvested all along the coast in waters less than 300 feet (91 meters) deep. The crabs are distinguished by their grayish-brown, sometimes purplish, carapace.

European Beach Grass

Ammophila arenaria

This plant is not part of an Aquarium exhibit, but is rather a wild species which lives in on the sandy shores of Oregon. It is included here as part of the Aquarium's broad mission to educate about the entirety of the Oregon coastline.

Giant Acorn Barnacle

Balanus nubilus

The Giant Acorn Barnacle is the largest of the white barnacles. It resembles a shrimp standing on its head with surrounding plates that form a shell (carapace). The off-white side plates of the acorn barnacle are heavy and form a conical structure with a flat top.

Helmet Crab

Telmessus cheiragonus

The Helmet Crab has an almost pentagonal-shaped body or carapace. The carapace, claws and legs are covered with stiff bristles and the lateral margin of the carapace has six large, jagged teeth on each side.

High Cockscomb

Anoplarchus purpurescens

The High Cockscomb is a small, ray-finned fish that looks similar to a tiny eel. This animal rarely reach lengths in excess of 20 cm and can be identified by their long tubelike body and soft dorsal rays that cover the entire back.

Lewis’s Moon Snail

Euspira lewisii

This is the largest living marine snail, having a shell diameter from 2.25 – 5.5 inches (5.7 – 14 cm). The shell is almost round, large, thick and yellowish-white to pale brown in color.

Northern Anchovy

Engraulis mordax

The anchovy is one of the better known fish species in the Aquarium collection, mostly due to their popularity as a human food source. They are also an important food for a variety of marine animals, from dolphins to sharks to seabirds.

Pacific Herring

Clupea pallasii

In its multitude of forms, herring is an important food source for both human and non-human animals. These sleek, silvery fish move in vast schools and attract a variety of predators, including sharks, dolphins, tuna, seals and seabirds.

Sand Dollars

Dendraster excentricus

Sand dollars are shaped like flattened Sea Urchins. They have tube feet and spines so small and closely packed that the living animal looks and feels like velvet.

Sea Pen

Ptilosarcus gurneyi

Sea pens resemble old-fashioned ostrich plume pens when they are fully expanded. They range from pale pink to bright orange in color.

Shiner Perch

Cymatogaster aggregata

Shiner Perch are a common fish in coastal areas and estuaries all along Oregon. They have elongated bodies with bright silver scales that have a more greenish tint along the top of the body.

Speckled Sanddab

Citharichthys stigmaeus

Speckled Sanddabs are flattened, oval-shaped fish, with both eyes on the left side. They are closely related to other flatfish like halibut.

Starry Flounder

Platichthys stellatus

Starry Flounders are flatfish. They are easily recognized by the markings on the dorsal, anal and tail fins which are white to orange with black bands or stripes.