Rainbow at Haystack Rock

Friends of Haystack Rock

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Photos Courtesy of Seaside Aquarium

This month's Creature Feature 

Olive Ridley

(Lepidochelys olivacea) 



While perusing the beach for treasures, you might suddenly come across something large that you don't quite recognize, a 50 pound sea turtle. During the winter, cold-shocked sea turtles can become stranded on our beaches. Reports of stranded turtles can begin as early as mid-October and can continue through January.

   Sea turtles forage for food in a warm water current. Weather conditions, such as a long, constant string of south-southwesterly winds, can drive the warm water current, and therefore the turtles, further north and closer to shore than normal. When the weather conditions suddenly change, the warm waters quickly dissipate and the turtles find themselves trapped in the colder waters of the natural currents running along the Oregon and Washington Coasts. When this happens, their bodies slow down and they become hypothermic. Those that can make it to shore haul out to get out of the cold water, but the winter conditions on the beach are rarely more hospitable.

   When found on the beach, it can be difficult to determine if a sea turtle is dead or alive. A turtle suffering from extreme hypothermia can be unresponsive to touch and have a heartbeat so slow and weak that it is difficult to detect. Most sea turtles found on Oregon and Washington shores do not survive, even if found quickly. Those that do live are taken to one of two licensed rehab facilities on the Northwest Coast; the Oregon Coast Aquarium or the Seattle Aquarium. When stabilized, the turtle is transferred to a center in California, where it will be released back into the wild.

   Though the Oregon Coast may see as many as five different species of sea turtle, the most commonly found is the Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea). This is partly due to the fact that globally, they are the most abundant species of sea turtle, with an estimated population of 800,000 nesting females. These turtles are considered endangered and face many threats from the modern world. The expansion of the shrimp trawling fishery in the eastern Indian Ocean has had a major impact on the Oliver Ridley population, causing up to 10,000 deaths each year. Thankfully, in 2004 the Odisha government introduced an annual fishing ban from November to May while the turtles are nesting that has reduced their incidental mortality by half. Surveys have found that nesting surged to record numbers in 2011.

   Another major threat to the Olive Ridely population is their own biology. They are one of only two species of sea turtle to engage in synchronized mass-nesting, a behavior called Arribadas. This means that thousands of female turtles will pull themselves out of the water and high up onto the beach in the darkness of night to lay their eggs. With competition for space high, females often dig up another female's nest, unintentionally destroying the newly laid eggs in order to deposit her own eggs.

   Olive Ridely sea turtles return to the same beach they were hatched on to lay their eggs. The largest rookery is located on Gahirmatha Beach in India with a nesting population between 100,000 to 500,000 individuals each year. Other nesting sites can be found in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

   After the crowded nesting season is over, the Ridleys return to their quiet, solitary life where they roam the oceans of the world, living in multiple different habitats and geographical localities.   

You can help Friends of Haystack Rock earn donations just by shopping with your Fred Meyer Rewards Card!

How? It's Easy! Sign up for the Community Rewards Program by linking your Fred Meyer Rewards card to Friends of Haystack Rock.You can search for us by name or by our nonprofit number
At the end of each quarter, Fred Meyer will make a donation to participating nonprofits based on the accumulated spending of the Rewards customers linked to each nonprofit.  
You still earn your reward points, fuel points and rebates just as you do today but every time you shop and use your rewards card you are helping Friends of Haystack Rock earn a donation!

and Amazon will make a donation to Friends of Haystack Rock

Friends of Haystack Rock is a non-profit organization that provides guidance and financial support for the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) in cooperation with the City of Cannon Beach promoting the preservation and protection of the intertidal life and birds that inhabit the Marine Garden and the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge at Haystack Rock.
Friends of Haystack Rock is guided by a volunteer board of directors and advisors consisting of committed community members.

Friends of Haystack Rock
PO Box 1222
Cannon Beach, OR 97110

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The Haystack Rock Awareness Program's 30th season begins on Friday, February 13th with a beach program from 12pm to 4pm.


The World of Haystack Rock
A series of FREE Community Lectures
Cannon Beach Library
131 N. Hemlock Cannon Beach
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
"Land, Forest, Waters: Activisim to Protect the Oregon Coast"
Cameron La Follette, Executive Director of Oregon Coast Alliance

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
"Educating Diverse Audiences about Marine Ecosystems"
Alan Rammer, Retired Marine Educator/ Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 
"Seabirds of the Falkland Islands"
Ram Papish, Wildlife Artist, Biologist & Author