One year ago, I was at Golden Gardens beach, and was a little worried that the extreme low tide possibly meant that a tsunami was imminent. Nope, it was just the day following SUPERMOON.
Saturday night was this year's return of Supermoon, which means that there were super low tides on Sunday morning. This is the prime time of the year to go tidepooling, which is simply the activity of walking around in the tide pools that result from low tide and viewing the creatures that are too ill-informed about Supermoon to understand the consequences of staying in the shallow water.
There were quite a few other humans that got the supermoon memo, and were out to scope out the aquatic wildlife which normally hides in the seaweed.
Here is what my friend Arielle and I encountered.
|Sea snail (or sumthin).|
|Jellyfish-like gelatinous blob and a shell.|
Either a symbiotic relationship, or maybe I just set them beside each other.
Maybe they hate each other. I really don't know.
|Old rotten pilings.|
|These things were living in the rotted-out pilings.|
|Arielle helps point out the wildlife.|
|Scale: about 10 inches. |
Still, this is some Planet Earth shit right here!
|anemone. an enemy.|
|Opportunist. All the birds were having a good day.|
|I don't think you're ready for this jelly.|
There were about 10 naturalist volunteers associated with the Seattle Aquarium out on the beach answering questions, explaining things, and reminding everyone about the fragile ecosystem we were all tromping through.
It was really cool to have them out there, educating people about the creatures and how to properly observe them. I learned a lot from this nice volunteer.
|Thanks Seattle Aquarium volunteer naturalists!|
|Here she was answering my question about which creatures are most fragile. |
Nudibranchs: sea slugs. We didn't see any.
She told us that this particular sea floor habitat used to be in bad shape, but has made a significant comeback in the last nine years after being designated a preserve area, which basically means no harvesting or any intrusive recreational activities. That made me feel better about walking around in the sea grass, worried that I was contributing to the demise of the very creatures I was there to see.
She said that the volunteers themselves debate whether the benefits of their presence outweigh the habitat impacts. Overall an individual’s impact is negligible, but when you consider the collective impacts of hundreds of people, you can see their point. But given that this ecosystem is making a healthy comeback, I feel OK about carefully traipsing about.
The day was overcast, which greatly reduced the stress on the ecosystem, so that also helps mitigate things. I would imagine a hot sunny day following Supermoon basically turns the tide pools into gumbo.
Basic guidelines for tidepooling are all pretty much common sense.
- Be gentle. Don’t stress the creatures.
- Don’t pick up anything that's attached.
- Return them to where you found them.
- Don’t be cruel.
- Don’t be an idiot.
Garbage or Aquatic Structure?
I kept seeing these weird things, which I thought were some kind of gasket (potentially for boat septic tanks. Haha). I found out (from the volunteer), that these are actually called sand collars and are made by sea snails! They take sand, combine it with mucus, and place their tiny eggs between layers. They work the sand between their ‘foot’ and their shell to extrude this crazy structure (like one of those play-dough toys). The eggs are protected by it, and it disintegrates in about a week.
So tidepooling was pretty interesting and sea creatures are cool. See you next supermoon!