Beneath the Surface–Denise Harrington

The deep ocean
Hydrothermal vents perhaps
Hold the origin of life.

Seemingly flat,
From the pocket shark
To phytoplankton

Breaking the surface
At South Cape Lookout
A purple urchin desert
Cackles in response
The only sound
On the once vibrant edge
Of the abyss

Where did the old growth
Kelp forest go?
Rockfish, sea stars, ribbons of life,
Gone. All gone.
I paddle away
Hungry and confused.

What have we done?
How can we get back
To a place we’ve never been
Or recently forgotten

Kelp, humans
Inextricably intertwined
Emergent species
All essential


After raising two children here on the north Oregon coast, Denise Harrington has followed a life of adventure, often offshore in her kayak. Through Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, she has the great fortune of observing, exploring, and studying our dynamic, intriguing coastline with others through exploration, education, and community science.