|.||. . .||. . .|
(Copyright 1997 by Brian M. Godfrey)
Haystack Rock (right) and the Needles
If you have seen any illustrations or promotional literature for the Oregon coast, you have probably seen an image of Haystack Rock. It is probably the most frequently photographed natural object in the state. Haystack Rock is a large monolithic basalt sea stack. I have heard it claimed to be the fifth largest in the world, but have not verified that. It is big and very scenic. The Needles are the two tall, narrow rocks just to the south of Haystack Rock.
"The Rock" is the breeding home of four species of sea birds: Tufted Puffins, Pelagic Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, and Western Gulls. The gulls nest up high on the rock using exposed nests. The puffins nest in burrows high on the north and northwest sides of the rock. The guillemots nest down quite low in cracks and crevasses. The cormorants stick their nests to small ledges medium high on the south side.
Haystack Rock is protected by many city, state, and federal laws as a sanctuary for birds and marine creatures. It is important to understand that you must stay off of the rock. Your presence, or the presence of a rescue helicopter can make the birds abandon their nests, resulting in dead chicks and failure to reproduce. And it is very dangerous for you to climb up there. It is also very expensive. There is a $1500 fine per person for climbing on the rock and they really do fine you. You must also be careful not to harm or take any creature from the tide pools. Don't even pick them up. The tide pools are protected as a Marine Garden. Many of these creatures are extremely specialized and will die if replaced only a few inches in the wrong direction from where you picked them up. They're just not as beautiful and fascinating if they are dead.
If these rules and warnings seem draconian, please understand that sometimes thousands of people a day tour our tide pools. The animals which live there are engaged in a constant life and death struggle for survival in a very harsh environment. Yes, you really can harm them if you are not respectful.
For more information about the protected status of Haystack Rock, and how you can enjoy it without helping to destroy it, take a look at the excellent Haystack Rock Awareness Program website.
Youth groups and schools should contact the City of Cannon Beach before coming to visit our tide pools. Your reward will be a great deal of assistance by some of the most well-informed naturalists you have ever worked with. See the field trips page of the Haystack Rock Awareness Program website for further information.
For more photos, check out George Vetter's daily Cannon Beach photos page.