Feb 022014
 
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Tidepooling at night at Golden Gardens, the light of Seattle in the background.

I haven’t posted in a while. It is hard to contribute to a travel blog when you, um, haven’t traveled. But sometimes adventures can be found just around the corner from home.

As a child, I spent many summers down at the beach, searching the area uncovered by the receding tide for a smorgasbord of animals without spines: urchins, anemones, nudibranchs, and tubeworms, to name a few. Tidepooling was a highlight of my summer growing up.

But I’d never been tidepooling during the winter.

Due to some astrophysical energy that is beyond my comprehension, there are roughly two high tides and two low tides every day. In the summer, the most dramatic low tide of the two is during the day—at winter, it’s at night. And so I did what any self-respecting thirty-something would do on a Friday night: strap on some rubber boots, a headlamp, and a couple heavy layers and headed to the beach.

I checked NOAA’s website to find when an especially low tide coincided with a Friday or Saturday night: a minus 1.8 tide at 11:15pm on Friday January 31 jumped out. I selected Golden Gardens off Ballard for the chance to see sea pens, a brilliant orange quill-like anemone that sticks out of the sandy substrate.

Before you judge my sanity, know that a dozen friends – from nudibranch neophytes to anemone experts – joined me on this adventure in to the unknown. No one had been tidepooling at night and, by all accounts, it was time well spent.

Highlights included: several massive Red Rock and Dungeness Crabs, a couple Kelp Crabs, and one Graceful Crab; a couple massive Moon Snails and a Sun Star in the beds of eel grass; a message in a bottle; and, thankfully, several sea pens … one of which, when stroked lovingly, glowed in the dark (courtesy of bioluminescence).

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A small Red Rock Crab (Cancer productus)

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A massive Dungeness Crab (Metacarcinus magister)

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A Kelp Crab (Pugettia producta), liberated of several of its limbs.

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Whelks inside a hollow post, with eggs.

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An Orange Sea Pen (Ptilosarcus gurneyi)

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Message in a bottle. No word on what it said.

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A Moon Snail (Polinices lewisii).

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A Moon Snail (Polinices lewisii)

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The same moon snail, illuminated from underneath.

 

 

 Posted by at 7:43 am

  One Response to “Nocturnal Tidepooling: Sea Pens on a Friday Night”

  1. […] tidelands of Puget Sound, (despite the water smelling of our gastric leftovers). A low-tide, and a good organizer, brought a group of like-minded individuals together to enjoy these wonders. If I had to admit huge […]

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