Rock piles

Posted by Ken Campbell June 25, 2008 0 Comment 444 views

Sea stacks, like the ones along the Olympic coast, are remnants of land. The last little bits of where the land used to be, markers of where the sea had once been held back, but could be held back no longer.

The water wears on the stone and forms caves. Caves connect with each other to make arches. Arches collapse and stacks are formed. Someday they even the stacks will be gone, eroded by the endless waves, but by that time, new stacks will have been carved from the shifting and defenseless coastline.

The isolation and protection that sea stacks offer is what makes them ideal nesting spots for thousands of seabirds. Tufted puffins and common murres, for example, along with guillemots and cormorants. You need wings to get to most of these rocky towers – the ability to fly is a flat-out requirement.

Some of the stacks along the Olympic coast are sacred to native peoples. Others are off limits because they are wildlife refuges. Most of them would be impossible to access anyway, even if it were legal and culturally responsible. Few of them are “islands,” as such; there are not many that feature suitable landing beaches. They are bony, stony, hard rock pillars, resolute sentinels on the jagged edge of the world.

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