Meet Our Haystack Rock Stars!

Friends of Haystack Rock
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This month's Creature Feature
Humpback Whale
Megaptera novaeangliae
What a wonder to behold, the beauty and grace of a Humpback Whale. This September folks visiting Haystack Rock were treated with the delightful sight of Humpback Whales feeding very close to shore. For weeks Humpbacks passed by the Rock, some staying for a few days to feed on the numerous anchovies lining the Northern Oregon Coast, others more concerned with getting to their breeding grounds some 3,000 miles away in the warmer waters of Hawaii and Mexico.

Joined by hundreds of sea lions, those that did stop could be seen casting "bubble nets". This is a feeding behavior which involves multiple whales swimming in an ever shrinking circle blowing bubbles below a school of fish. The shrinking column of bubbles surrounding the school forces the fish upwards. The whales spontaneously swim up through the bubble net, mouths wide open, catching thousands of fish in one gulp. That's efficient and filling! This technique of "bubble net" feeding can be very helpful to a Humpback trying to consume 3,000 pounds of fish in a single day which is the average quantity an individual Humpback eats while foraging.

This is an unusual sight for the Oregon Coast as Humpbacks are typically only seen by fisherman and stay about 5 to 15 miles from shore. So why are the whales so close to shore? Warmer waters persisting off of the West Coast has slowed down the natural occurring upwelling's, a wind-driven phenomenon that brings cold nutrient-rich water to the surface, that combined with this year's El Nino means there is less food in the ocean. According to Bruce Mate, director of the Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute, blue whales are suffering the consequences. Unlike the blue whales which feed entirely on small crustaceans, Humpbacks will also feed on small fish and are able in these depleted ocean conditions to still find adequate food.

Humpback whales endure the longest migration route of any mammal. The longest recorded migration was that of seven Humpback Whales, including one calf. They traveled 5,160 miles, from Costa Rica to Antarctica! And although the Humpbacks seen along the Oregon Coast travel a mere 3,000 miles between their feeding and breeding grounds they have been known to complete this epic journey in as little as 36 days.

Humpback whales were so heavily targeted by commercial whaling in the north Pacific that by 1966 there were as few as 1,400 humpbacks left. Luckily, the instatement of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972 and the moratorium banning commercial whaling set by the International Whaling Commission in 1982 (just three years before the inception of the Haystack Rock Awareness Program) has allowed these majestic creatures to make an impressive comeback. 'SPLASH' (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks) now estimates that their population has rebounded to between 18,000 and 20,000 individuals.

L to R_ Kelsey_ Lisa_ Melissa
From L to R: Kelsey, Lisa, Melissa
Meet this month's
Rock Stars!

Melissa Keyser
Program Coordinator
Lisa Habecker
Education Coordinator
Kelsey Brown
Volunteer Coordinator 

Melissa grew up in the Pacific Northwest, fond of her natural surroundings. It wasn't until college, that she fully understood the importance and necessity of stewardship. Through many environmental classes and personal experiences she began to realize her calling - working in conservation to preserve our environment and help others understand the importance of planet health on both large and small scales.

She began to fall in love with the coastal environment after meeting her husband and taking frequent trips to the coast where he had grown up. As a post college young parent she began volunteering - planting trees, cleaning up parks, preserving wetlands, helping young students, doing whatever she could to protect and preserve our coastal environment while finding a career path. She worked odd jobs and made many fantastic connections, but the Haystack Rock Awareness Program is where she "truly found her footing. Through this program I am able to convey, on a daily basis, the importance of conservation." She continues to teach both young and young at heart about marine biology and how, and WHY, to be stewards of our environment. "As a team, the staff and volunteers at HRAP get to work together to maintain the beauty, diversity, and health of the ecosystem at Haystack Rock. I will do all I can as Program Coordinator, and moreover as a steward of our coastal environment, to ensure the longevity and success of the program."

Lisa is a native Californian who grew up with the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Mountains as her playground.  After moving to Cannon Beach in late 2001, she discovered what made this area a treasure - Haystack Rock.  She was hired in 2002 as an interpreter for the Haystack Rock Awareness Program by Shelley Parker, "a woman that put full-time effort into a part-time position as Coordinator and Lisa was 'sold'." 

As she looks back on the decade plus of countless hours, an amazing cadre of volunteers, plus a few Coordinators - she realized that this was not just a job but a passion.  "Passions can make us crazy at times, as we express ourselves in protecting our natural resources, educating visitors, friends and sometimes family. In the end, passions are what keep us alive, growing, changing to this I am proud to be instilling the same desire in my two sons, Merrick and Morgan. These are the new generation of stewards and hopefully, Junior Interpreters that will continue to educate and enjoy the amazing pull that Haystack Rock has to offer." As our new Education Coordinator Lisa will bring a wealth of experience to this position. 
Kelsey grew up in Hillsboro, Oregon with a love for animals and the outdoors that she has never been able to outgrow. This passion took her through college where she majored in Environmental Biology, and on her path to search for employment in the wind and rain. "Now, I make every effort to be an environmentally conscious person, and I try to sprinkle a little environmental understanding wherever I can. I believe that working for nature is a fun and extremely rewarding undertaking, and I hope that as Volunteer Coordinator I can help to reconnect people with their surroundings."
October 31, 2015 12pm
Cannon Beach Chamber Community Hall  
A Series of FREE Community Lectures
at Cannon Beach Library
Held the 2nd Wednesday of each month Nov.-April

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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