Field Journal: Ferry Dock Nudibranchs

Under a ferry dock might not seem like the first choice when it comes to searching for nudibranchs, but urban habitats can be surprising. To be fair, it’s not the easiest place to find nudibranchs at low tide. The ferry constantly comes and goes creating large waves (large for Puget Sound anyway), which makes the sea life under the water dramatically sway back and forth in the current. But not all of the creatures there can hang on and many get washed off their tenuous hold to whatever small bit of seaweed or rock they can find in the largely sandy intertidal zone. While the ferry motors kick up waves, the waves churn up the sandy bottom creating permanently silty water which reduces visibility and makes it challenging to photograph anything.

Regardless of the challenges, I continue to visit this particular ferry dock…

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Field Journal: Pillar Point

Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay is something of a holy grail for nudibranchs. For years I have watched friends on Twitter share their images of the many wonderful nudibranchs they have found at Pillar Point and I longed to visit. Over a year ago, I began making plans to take a trip south. Then the pandemic hit. My grand nudibranch adventure was put on hold indefinitely.

Once I was fully vaccinated, I revisited my original plans and finally made the pilgrimage to California. To be extra safe, I drove and camped which allowed me to stop at Cape Arago in Oregon near Coos Bay to visit low tides on the way down. In an early morning low tide there, I found dozens of huge gumboot chitons all over the tidepools, but only a single, hard to reach nudibranch. Two days later I…

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Surprising Slime Mold and New Beetles

To say this has been a weird summer would be an understatement. Because of the pandemic, there was no annual trip abroad to explore new landscapes and nature, and I haven’t done a good job getting out locally either. Part of the reason for that is with nothing else do do, and being cooped up so much, people have been packing into parks and nature spaces since the spring and trails and parking have been overly crowded as a result. Going into nature with crowds is worse than not going at all to me, so I’ve spent a lot of time at home.

That’s not to say I’m not going out at all though! I try to select the quieter weekday times when places are less busy, and so it was I found myself at one of my usual haunts in Sammamish to…

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Field Journal: Sea Squirts & More

Low tides have come and gone while I sat at home looking at the tide charts, wondering what I was missing during the pandemic. But with the easing of restrictions here in Washington, I finally ventured out to my regular haunt in West Seattle for the first two times this season. My first outing was not very exciting, I found only a single nudibranch and not a whole lot else. This week however, I had more success in not only finding a few nudibranchs, but also making some discoveries new to me.

Summer has officially begun in Seattle, and this week offered sunny weather and remarkably calm water for searching the tidal zone. It wasn’t long before I found the first nudibranchs, but at first I didn’t see them because the rock I had…

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Field Journal: Valkmusa National Park

The promise of extensive bogs and rare moths and butterflies drew me to my final destination on my tour of Finland’s National Parks. It had begun with a visit north to Syöte National Park where I spent a few days exploring with a small group. After returning to Helsinki, I set out on a four day solo trip first visiting Puurijarvi-Isosuo National Park and Kurjenrahka National Park to the east and then driving back towards Helsinki to Nuuksio National Park and the Haltia Nature Center. My final day found me east of Helsinki, near the Russian border, along the Gulf of Finland in Kotka to visit Valkmusa National Park.

Only a small section of Valkmusa National Park is accessible by trail and there are only two trail…

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Field Journal: Nuuksio National Park

The third day of my solo tour of Finland’s National Parks brought me back close to Helsinki when I visited Nuuksio National Park. The afternoon before, I drove to Haltia – the Finnish Nature Center, located in Nuuksio National Park, to visit the exhibits and browse in the shop for badges of the parks I’d already visited. The center is small, but presents a complete experience of the nature of Finland with multimedia displays. A long diorama of Finnish nature greets visitors before opening into a large room with a wide screen that plays videos of Finland’s many habitats throughout the seasons. It feels like you’re snowshoeing through a winter forest one moment before being transported to a rocky summer shore the next. An…

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