The Beacon

Rough Seas Near Oregon’s Orford Reef

Basket stars in Oregon's Orford Reef. © Oceana

This is part of a series of posts about our Pacific Hotspots expedition. Today's highlights: more amazing basket stars, anemones and sea cucumbers.

Oregon Leg, Day 2

We pulled anchor early this morning and ran the R/V Miss Linda to the Orford Reef, just southwest of Cape Blanco. 

Cape Blanco is the westernmost point in the continental U.S. and is the dividing line of two distinct biological regions for the near shore ocean ecosystem off the Oregon coast. South of Cape Blanco is also infamous among mariners for its high winds. Today, with 20 to 25 knot winds and seas building up to 12 feet, our work was more like the “Deadliest Catch” than a reef survey. 

Strapped into the stern ramp of the Miss Linda, we deployed the Remotely Operated Vehicle, equipped with high definition cameras and lights, onto the deep edges of the outer reef. Despite the fog, big swell and cold wind cutting across the deck, we landed the ROV 250 feet down.  

The cameras revealed a diverse and rugged seafloor with invertebrates like basket stars, sea cucumbers, sponges, large white sun anemones and gorgonian corals clinging to the boulders and rock. Several species of juvenile and adult fish took shelter in the rock and schooled above.

But one two-hour dive turned out to be enough in these rough seas. The weather forecast is calling for persistent high winds and waves south of Cape Blanco for the rest of the week. We pulled the ROV back onboard and headed north to Bandon to continue to explore Oregon’s Pacific Ocean in calmer seas.


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