You are standing near one of the most unusual places in the natural world.
Ten miles, or so, north of Harriman Springs 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.
Welcome to Mare’s Eggs Springs Botanical Area.
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. Mare’s Eggs are also found at
Harriman Springs Resort & Marina.
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 in 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.
Here are other locations near Harriman Springs Resort and Marina:
Behold the spectacular Crater Lake National Park
Visit the old west in Wood River Valley and Fort Klamath
Enjoy the sights and sounds of Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge
For nature enthusiasts see Bird Habitats of the Region
Take a video tour of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges
©2014 Anders Tomlinson, all rights reserved.