Many colorful and strange creatures live where Haystack Rock and the sand meets the sea. As the tide recedes, a unique and diverse environment is revealed in its tidepools and intertidal areas. Bright sea stars in a variety of colors cling tightly to rocks. Green anemones lay open like flowers at the bottom of pools. A trained eye will find varieties of crabs, snails, limpets, coral, sponge and colorful sea slugs known as nudibranchs. These are just a few of the coastal marine creatures that you may discover at Haystack Rock.
As with any visit to the beach, it is always important to be aware of the tides. Starting in mid-April, low water times on the Oregon coast occur every month with the lowest minus tides occurring in mid-July. Tides of 0.0 feet and lower are best for tidepool viewing, but when the ocean is calm many intertidal areas can be observed at plus one or two foot tides. It is best to be in the intertidal area one hour before low tide. Check out the Haystack Rock Awareness Program schedule and time your visit to have knowledgeable volunteers on hand to answer any questions you might have.
Be aware of the fact that tidepool organisms are very sensitive. Walk only on sand or bare rock and watch your step. Avoid walking on rocks covered with barnacles for your safety and for the well being of these rocky inhabitants. Many tidepools have plenty of viewing opportunities at the sand-rock interface, where standing on rock can be avoided almost entirely. Slow down, look closely and watch carefully to observe the sea life in its home. Quietly watching a pool or gently moving seaweed aside will reveal organisms and behavior that would otherwise go unnoticed. Always be aware of your surroundings and never turn your back on the ocean.
Haystack Rock is a Marine Garden and a National Wildlife Refuge, as designated by the State of Oregon and the US Department of Fish and Wildlife. In an effort to help protect the bird and sea life on and around Haystack Rock, climbing on the rock is not allowed and collecting of any materials is prohibited within 300 yards. This ensures that the birds who call Haystack home and the thousands of tiny organisms living on its surface and in its tidepools are protected from any harm.