Park Wavelengths - March 2012


Thursday, March 29, 2012

The full moon on April 7, just before Easter, is the "Flower Moon," when Pomo people of the southern Sonoma communities welcome the first fruits of spring, tiny coastal strawberries, and the first flowers--red maids.

Witches Butter--ruffled neon yellow fungi--is part of a quick restart on mushrooms following the rain and patches of warm weather! Wildflowers are beginning--poppies, paintbrush, and trillium may be seen on the newly rerouted Muddy Hollow Trail. Dog violets peek out along the Chimney Rock Trail, and purple Douglas irises are appearing here and there. A spell of warm weather should kick off the season. Bird song fills the air around Bear Valley Visitor Center as spring arrives.

Elephant seals continue to return to the sea; weaned pups and males are lingering at Chimney Rock. This year, 1679 elephant seals were recorded throughout the park with 650 pups, 300 of which were tagged on the rear flipper with pink tabs identifying their natal area. Gray whales are making their way north and many sightings have rewarded visitors at the Lighthouse on calm days.

The weather cycle has produced spectacularly puffy cumulus clouds--they stack up vertically with clearly defined edges. Last week, formations over Black Mountain and Tomales Bay contrasted with blue skies and green grass! "Cumulus" comes from the Latin word for pile. They form when warm air rises and reaches a colder air level, causing water to condense out of the air to form the cotton ball clouds.

Top of Page


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Forwarded to Park Wavelengths Subscribers

Subject: Spring Science Talks at Point Reyes NS: Three vegetation talks + "Wormcam"

Spring Lunchtime Science Talks at Point Reyes National Seashore
Please join us for the following talks in the Red Barn Classroom at Park Headquarters from Noon - 12:45 (unless otherwise noted). Admission is free and all are welcome. Talks are hosted by the Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center at PRNS. Contact Ben Becker for more information.

March 22, 2012 (Noon)

Title: "Sonoma spineflower: the natural history and future survival of one of Marin's rarest plants"

Speaker: Amelia Ryan, Wetland Ecologist, Point Reyes National Seashore

Summary: The Federally Endangered Chorizanthe valida (Sonoma spineflower) currently has only one wild population, located within Point Reyes National Seashore, making it one of the rarest plants in Marin County and in California in general. Though commonly called Sonoma spineflower, the Point Reyes Peninsula is the only location where a population of this species has been documented. The talk will include the historic distribution of Sonoma spineflower, the factors contributing to its current restriction to one location, and touch on other aspects of its natural history. It will also over current efforts by the Park Service to provide for the ongoing survival of this species. In particular, it will focus on a project undertaken in 2010-2011 (funded by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Preventing Extinction Grant) that included new introductions of this species.


April 19, 2012 (Noon)

Title: "Bioturbation in a declining oxygen environment, in situ observations from Wormcam."

Speaker: Kersey Sturdivant, Ph.D.; Marine Ecologist, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary

Summary: "WormCam" is an underwater camera developed at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science with funding from the National Science Foundation. Still images and time-lapse movies from Wormcam help scientists better understand the important role that burrowing animals play in mixing seafloor sediments, and the physical forces that control erosion, deposition, and transport of seafloor sediments, nutrients, and contaminants. In this study we developed a benthic observing system (WormCam) consisting of a buoy, telemetering electronics, sediment profile camera, and water quality datasonde, and deployed it in an area known to experience seasonal hypoxia. WormCam was deployed from early spring to late fall and images and water quality (WQ) data were captured every half-hour over the 5 month observation period. The images and WQ data were used to quantify the impact of hypoxia on bioturbation, and observe infaunal behavior in situ. During the hypoxic observation period, by enhancing the images, we observed the dynamic nature of bacterial mat formation and infaunal response to this event.


May 3, 2012 (Noon)

Title: "Mechanical Removal of Invasive Beachgrass on Coastal Dunes: Creating Endangered Species Habitat at Point Reyes National Seashore"

Speaker: Sarah Minnick, Point Reyes National Seashore

Summary: Point Reyes National Seashore preserves some of the last remaining high quality coastal dune habitat in the United States. These dune systems are home to endangered plants and animals, such as Tidestrom's lupine, Western snowy plover, and Myrtle's silverspot butterfly. However, this habitat is seriously threatened by the rapid encroachment of two invasive, nonnative plant species, European beachgrass and iceplant. The Abbotts Lagoon Coastal Dune Restoration Project is restoring natural coastal dune processes and functions by removing invasive species south of Abbotts Lagoon. Come learn about the successful mechanical removal of 80 acres of beachgrass during the first phase of the project, see the initial monitoring results, and find out what's in store for the future.


May 24, 2012 (Noon)

Title: "Removal of Scotch Broom from Point Reyes National Seashore"

Speaker: Lisa Michl and Ellen Hamingson, Point Reyes National Seashore


Ben Becker, Ph.D.
Science Coordinator and Marine Ecologist
Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center
Point Reyes National Seashore
1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

tel: 415-464-5187 (NOTE NEW PHONE #)
fax: 415-663-8132 (NEW FAX)


The Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center is one of 19 Research Learning Centers at National Parks across the country working to increase the effectiveness and communication of research and science through:

  • Facilitating the use of parks for scientific inquiry
  • Supporting science-informed decision making
  • Communicating relevance and providing access to research knowledge
  • Promoting resource stewardship through partnerships

Top of Page

Last updated: February 28, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


(415) 464-5100
This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (i.e., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; weather forecast; fire danger information; shuttle bus system status; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.

Contact Us