Skip to main content
Brittle Star

Life in the Mud Flats

May 22, 2019

By Cole Carey, sophomore chemistry major

So there I was in Oregon, exploring caves and climbing and jumping from rock to rock. Pea crabEach day was a new exciting adventure until suddenly, it was the day for the mudflats. From what I could hear it was going to be a doozey of a day. When we arrived, I just saw a barren landscape of mud as far as the eye could see. We opened our van doors and had our nasal cavities were assaulted with the foul stench of sulfur. Why were we here? Where was the excitement? Where were the marine organisms? To find our answer we have to look underneath our feet.

Now some of these previous sites were a little slippery to say the least, but here it was slippery and then some. You go to take a step and you hope you get your boot back because the mud here will hold you like a crab holds onto Dr. Lord’s finger; like its life depends on it. You don’t just slip, you trip, and you’ll trip a lot, but that’s part of the fun of navigating it. Honestly one of my favorite parts was when I was so deep in mud it took close to half the class to pull me out.

Now there obviously had to be a backstory as to why I almost lost my leg to the mud flats, and it’s that we were looking for a very certain animal—clams! Armed with a clam gun for extracting clams I sunk Pictionary drawing of a horse?into the mud and looked around. We eventually found one with two pea crabs inside, which are crabs that take refuge in large clams for protection and eat the remaining scraps of whatever the clam doesn’t eat. We also found super weird worms and even a specific type of starfish, a brittle star. It turns out the mudflats have a whole different and exciting ecosystem all under the mud!

After I raced my friend Sam back to the van, covering ourselves with mud in the process, the class would later go out to for dinner at Fisherman’s Grotto, a small restaurant across the bridge with amazing seafood. We all ended the night playing an online game called skribbl and I even got to play cards with my neighbors next door. To be honest, I thought today was going to be the least eventful day yet, but personally I think it turned Pictionary drawingout to be one of the most.