Dungeness crab (Cancer magister)

The Dungeness crab is an important species on the West Coast, where it thrives in chilly Pacific Ocean waters. This species is a major driver for the fishing economies in  California, Oregon, and Washington.

These crustaceans have eight walking legs and two claws and prefer sandy bottom habitats in the intertidal zones to a depth of approximately 750 feet.

History

Dungeness crab have been harvested commercially on the West Coast since the mid-1800s when San Francisco fishermen began the fishery. For more than 100 years, the fishery has been regulated by size, sex, and season in order to preserve this important resource.

The commercial Dungeness crab season typically begins in early December and continues through the spring. Recreational crabbing is a popular, year-round activity on the Oregon Coast.

Regulations

Just make sure you’re aware of the regulations next time you head to the beach or the docks. Knowing how to play will help ensure this animal continues to provide a delicious food source and an important economic opportunity for coastal communities in the region.

Many coastal bait and tackle shops along the coast will help you get set up for an enjoying crabbing experience!

Harlequin duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)

The distinctive Harlequin duck is a  beautiful small sea duck with a small bill, short neck, and long tail. Males in breeding plumage are unmistakable with their dark blue color, reddish brown sides and crown, and striking white patterning on the face, neck, sides, and back.

Unlike most waterfowl that prefer quiet marshes, the Harlequin duck breeds on fast-flowing streams and winters along rocky coastlines in the crashing surf.

Tough cookie

Harlequin ducks are well adapted to their harsh surroundings. They make their way against the current and easily climb up steep and slippery rocks, although many have been found with broken bones presumably from being dashed against rocks in the rough surf.

Like other diving ducks and dabble for prey. They forage underwater for crustaceans and mollusks, insects, and small fish found in riverine and marine habitats.

Insulation

Harlequins trap a lot of air in their smooth, densely packed feathers. This air layer help provide insulation from the cold water. The air also makes them exceptionally buoyant. They are known to bounce like a cork after a  dives.

The Harlequin duck is sometimes called a sea mouse for its very unducklike squeaks. You can listen to the Harlequin duck here.

Pacific wax myrtle (Morella californica)

Adaptability is a valuable skill to have in this day and age. The Pacific wax myrtle is an expert in adaptability and could teach those of us who want to improve in this area a few important tips.

This evergreen shrub is native to the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington, growing quickly up to 30 feet tall and 10-12 feet wide. Pacific wax myrtles flourishes along both streams and sand dunes in this region.

This tree is often used for habitat restoration  thanks to their ability to adapt to a variety of environments. They thrive in wet soil, but are also drought tolerant and will grow in sandy, loamy, or clay soil.

The Pacific wax myrtle also transfers nitrogen and other nutrients to plants in its vicinity.

Identification

The lance-shaped leaves of the Pacific wax myrtle are a bright, glossy green with black dots. They have a fragrant, spicy smell.

The small yellow flowers create purple berries that ripen during autumn. The berries fall to the ground in early winter, attracting birds such as flickers, finches, and robins.

Berries

The fruit carries one seed per berry. Berries are coated with white wax that can be extracted and made into scented candles and soap.

Next time you find yourself in a challenging situation, think about the Pacific wax myrtle and its unique ability to thrive in a wide range of environments.

It may provide just the inspiration you need to succeed in the task you want to accomplish.