Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Searching for Whales and Agate

Our day started yesterday at the Rumlano cheese outlet and factory. Here we were able to watch how cheese is made. An interesting fact which we learned is that the whey, the moisture squeezed from the curds, is bottled and given to the cows for reprocessing. The milk used to make the cheese comes from organic farms, which makes me quite happy. Their cheese is also quite tasty! From this place we drove to a park along the coast,within the city, which had a memorial to the crew and passengers of the ship Brother Jonathan, which crashed in this area in 1864. There were only 19 survivors. As we looked at the list of crew and passengers we noticed that five ladies had no names, they were simply designated as "ladies of the night".  Surely they did have names!  As a result of this crash the first lighthouse was built off the shore here in 1865. And a second one was built later, this one is still in operation.The picture of that lighthouse is below.
In the park were volunteer whale watchers. They work under the auspices of the Oregon State Parks. They have studied with a marine biologist to locate and identify whales. Daily they e-mail their findings to a national registry. The volunteers we talked to here said they spotted six this morning. We ate our lunch sitting there and in that period of time a pod of five gray whales were seen. John and I could not spot them, they were quite far away on the horizon. From there we drove further along the coast and stopped to walk along two beaches. At the first one we saw people crawling/lying on the beach and sifting through the sand. Agates have been found in this area, and that was what the people were searching for. I joined them and found a few of the transparent colored stones. There are many beautifully colored small stones on this beach, but not many that are actually agates. I found a few good-sized  agates, one was about the size of a robin's egg. At another beach we also looked at tide pools. At first we thought there were very few signs of sea critters in those pools, but when I touched a rock with my stick it felt mushy and contracted. It was a sea anemone camouflaged by the presence of many shells. The green center is his mouth, in which he has some food. Quite interesting, right? The natural world sure has its oddities!
We also enjoyed watching the many shore birds on the beach some of which we identified as gulls, sandpipers and sanderlings.  In the ocean there were sea ducks which we think are called surf scoters. I can't get over how John and I find it so easy to wile away the hours walking on the beach!

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