ECOSYSTEMS > OREGON COAST > ROCKY SHORES
Rocky cliffs play a unique roll in the ecology of the Oregon Coast, providing a stratified series of habitats for a variety of plants and animals. At their base, where the rock meets the water, cliffs may provide haul-out areas for California sea lions or harbor seals. Invertebrates like ochre sea stars and California mussels may cling to these same surfaces, showing themselves only at low tide.
Higher up the cliff, beyond the reach of the waves and sheltered from the persistent wind, different species of sea birds may nest in crevices or on ledges.
At the top of the cliffs, the coastal forest may begin to encroach, dominated with large conifers which provide perches for predatory birds like eagles and falcons; and food and shelter for a variety of small mammals. Or, if conditions prevent the establishment of heavy vegetation, these cliff tops make become the periodic roosting areas for hundreds of migrating common murres and pigeon guillemots.