You are standing near one of the most unusual places in the natural world.
Ten miles, or so, north of Point Comfort Lodge on Westside Road, just before it makes a sharp right and becomes Seven Mile Road, is a nondescript turnoff on the right hand side of the road for a couple of cars to park. This is where mare’s Eggs Spring is – N42.66041° W122.08891°. The land drops ten feet quickly to the water’s edge. Coming out of the hill are cold water springs.
A display describes what we are seeing.
What looks like cobblestones at the bottom of this pool are actually living colonies of algae called “Mare’s Eggs.” The blue green alga (Nostoc pruniforme) forms colonies with a dark, leathery outer sack and a watery, gel-like center. Although found worldwide, colonies this large are rarely seen.
Summer, winter, fall or spring the water is always 40 degrees.
Blue-green algae are more closely related to bacteria than plants, but can create their own food through photosynthesis. If you look carefully into the pool, you may notice some of the Mare’s Eggs have warty knobs. These are newly forming colonies that will eventually separate and form their own Mare’s eggs.
Westside Road is less traveled in the Winter.
Winter is a time for the hardy to be out and surviving. Bald eagles are watching for mammals and birds ib distress. It is cold. It is a time to be prepared for trouble. It is quiet at Mare’s Eggs Springs, not like the spring and summer when bird song is everywhere one turns.
How old and big can a Mare’s Egg be?
The largest Mare’s Eggs are estimated to be 10-15 years old, growing up to 9 inches in diameter and weighing over 5.5 pounds.
Not much lives in this low nutrient environment
Please resist the temptation to take or even touch the Mare’s Eggs. These colonies require years on constant conditions and little outside disturbance to grow so large. The many springs here provide a continual flow of 40 degree Fahrenheit water with a low nutrient content. A species of snail that cleans off the surface of the Mare’s Eggs may also be important. By staying out of the pool, you will help this delicate balance intact.
©2014 Point Comfort and Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.