Coastal Ecology—Surveying the Shoreline

Summary: Wrack, the debris cast ashore, wash up along many tidally influence shores in Oregon and are often a main nutrient source for communities living along a shoreline habitat. The source of the wrack varies depending on the location, but time and again evidence of the watershed to ocean connection is visible along the shore. This activity can be adapted for classroom use by collecting wrack and using it inside or for field use depending on location, time availability as well as the presence of wrack at the field site. This activity is appropriate for estuarine shorelines as well as beaches and shorelines along the open coast.

Concepts to teach: Cycles, productivity, balance and interconnectedness.

Goals: Students will learn about the watershed-estuary-ocean connection by exploring and identifying shoreline wrack and identifying the organisms that live and depend on it.

6.2E.1, 6.3S, 7.3S, 8.3S

Specific Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to identify wrack and how explain how it occurs onshore
  2. Students will collect data on the contents of the wrack and make a graphical representation of their findings
  3. Students will analyze their data and provide an explanation for the results
  4. Students will be able to define at least 2 species in the community that depend on the presence of wrack

Activity Links and Resources:


  • Examine worksheets for completeness and detail