Explore Coal Oil Point!

Hi, Ellwood students!  This is Mrs. Barnett.  I’d like you to come exploring with me to Coal Oil Point Reserve (COPR).  It’s one of my favorite places to go walking to see birds and sea creatures in the tide pools.

Please join me, first here on the web, and be sure to click on the links to see more of my pictures, videos and links to other web sites.  Some of the links are to Google Earth, which you can download if you don’t have it. I hope that later, you and your family and friends go out exploring, walking on these trails and the beach, too.  Keep an eye out for a few questions to think about.  Always keep exploring and learning!

Below is a map of the Coal Oil Point Reserve self-guided tourThe COPR tour starts on the cliffs right above Coal Oil Point.  I get to this area by parking in one of two different places: at the west end of Isla Vista and walking on the cliff towards #1, or near where perhaps some of you live, on Mathilda or Ellwood Beach Drive, and heading out towards #13.

Extra: To walk to the trails with your family from streets you might even live near, I marked the trail entrance from Ellwood Beach Drive and Mathilda Drive with a red star .  I often park at the Ellwood Trail parking lot at the end of Cannon Green Drive. I marked that with a purple star ✭.  If you start in either of these places and walk down the trail, you can head out to the same #13 on the tour that is marked on the previous map.  You’ll see a sign naming the “Pond Trail Entrance”.

1. Kelp Forests

Click the link above and listen to a docent tell you about kelp forests. Read the questions below first, so you know what you need to listen for, then see if you can answer the following questions as best you can.

  • How many inches can the giant bladder kelp grow per day?

    Monterey Bay Aquarium

  • What kind of animals live in kelp?
  • How do kelp forests protect the shorelines (the land)?

Go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Live Cam and look at the real underwater exhibit of a kelp forest. Be sure to watch between 7 am and 7 pm.  Ooh!  I just looked and saw a shark!  

  • What do you see on that kelp forest live cam?

Here are some pictures I took of kelp, kelp holdfasts and animals. 

< Here’s a view of the top of the kelp forest from the cliffs above Coal Oil Point.  The kelp is the brown layer.  Notice how the ocean is rougher beyond the kelp, and calmer near the shore.  Good job, kelp, protecting the beach from big waves!  That’s Santa Cruz Island across the water. 

The next picture shows bladder kelp attached to the holdfast.  Click to learn what a kelp holdfast is!  I took a picture of one for you on the beach. I love finding the ones that break off from rocks and wash up on the beach because I can find all sorts of animals living in the dense, twisted strands, like ones below.

Brittle stars are fun to find in holdfasts! 

Sometimes a brittle star arm will break off, but it’ll grow back!  The one held in the girl’s hand is missing an arm, but it’s very healthy.  She put it back in the tidepool where she found it.  Next time you’re at the beach, pull apart a wet holdfast and see what you can find.  I even found a baby octopus one time.

 Kelp provides lots of hiding places for animals!  Watch a video to see how brittle stars move.

A student from Isla Vista School is holding a very tiny bat star.

But what do you think that spiral thing is that I’m holding?
Click to do a google search:
spiral animal egg case california”.

  • What do you think it is?