365 Nature – Day 361

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


This summer I developed a particular fondness for our marine life after visiting extreme low tides at Alki Beach on Day 187 and Scenic Beach on Days 185 and 186. The winter tides have been very high, in fact today’s high tides are around plus 10 while the lowest tide barely gets below zero, not good for watching marine animals. Today we decided to visit Seattle Aquarium on the waterfront. I like to visit the aquarium because I can see the animals during this time of the year when tides are high and I also get to see them very close. Some, like the octopus, scallops and sea pens live deeper and are not frequently seen during standard low tides. I am not, and will never, be a diver and for me this is the only way to see some of these amazing animals.

Today we were lucky because the octopus was active, moving around in the tank before hanging itself up on the wall in a neat oval shape. All the suckers were displayed on the wall in an artistic display only an octopus could create. When I visit the aquarium I like to focus on a few animals instead of running around to see everything. At the tide pools I noticed some yellow on one of the rocks with a fish nearby. I suspected they were eggs and when I asked one of the volunteers I was told they were the eggs of the sculpin and it was the male guarding them. I was also congratulated on my observation skills. I watched the sculpin face off with a crab and as the crab inched forward the fish launched a quick attack at the crab.

I also spent a certain amount of time with the cuttlefish and rather fell in love with a white one which became active while I was face-to-face with it. There is so much to see an observe and I watched the cuttlefish walk on two tentacles before opening the rest of them and plastering them against the glass. I watched its amazing fin appear from the body where it had been lying invisible. The fin goes all the way around the fish like nothing else I’ve seen. It flutters and so looks like it’s actually rotating around instead of simply waving up and down.

The mammals always attract a lot of attention and I spent time watching the sea otters cleaning after they finished eating. They gathered together cleaning their faces and their bellies while doing side rolls over and over in the water. The river otters were less active, one was tucked into a tight ball against the glass.

Kelly Brenner
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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist and writer based in Seattle. She founded and writes The Metropolitan Field Guide, a blog for ideas, thoughts and resources for the design of urban wildlife habitat and has contributed articles to a variety of other websites and publications.

Kelly has a certificate from the University of Washington in non-fiction writing. She continually takes classes and attends talks on various natural history topics. In 2009 she earned a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon.

She's also an avid photographer focusing on the natural world.
Kelly Brenner
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