Field Journal: Alki Octopus

The very low tides I enjoyed at Scenic Beach State Park over the weekend continued and I didn’t want to miss out. So on the Monday after returning from Hood Canal, I took my daughter to Alki Beach in Seattle to explore. I had already had some great finds at Alki during the low tides at the end of May and it seems I always find something interesting there. The Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalists were already searching and I was bitterly disappointed to hear from them that a Humpback Whale and swam by not more than a half an hour before we arrived. Fortunately, Alki Beach could never disappoint entirely, and there was much yet to be discovered. 

My daughter and I first searched the long stretch of rocks, but remembering the moon snail I’d found on the outgoing tide last time we turned towards the…

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Field Journal: Scenic Beach State Park

Early this year I researched the lowest daytime tides of the spring and summer and made plans around those dates. One of those plans was a visit to Scenic Beach State Park, along Hood Canal in Washington, where we’d camped last year during my 365 Nature Project. I had seen some great intertidal life along the beach like tiny sunflower stars and kelp crabs and hoped to find more during the upcoming low tides.

We arrived just before low tide on a Friday morning in late June and immediately went down to the beach. I spent a couple of hours wandering into the water and up along the rocks exploring. There was a lot to see, but it wasn’t obvious at first glance. The more I scoured, bent and flipped, the more I found. There were a few sea stars scattered around, most of them sitting…

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Field Journal: Low Tide at Alki Beach

Last weekend we had the first of our really low tides of the year and I took advantage of it by heading to Alki Beach two days in a row. On both days I was eager to explore and although the low tide didn’t reach the lowest until just after noon, I arrived before 11 am both days. Even though it wasn’t yet at the lowest point, a great amount of beach was exposed, much more than I’d seen all winter long. Both days I wandered up and down the beach. Alki Beach has a diverse habitat with some areas of sand with eelgrass beds, a few areas of large boulders and a lot of rock. I left the large boulder areas until the lowest of the tide because they were farther out in the water. Likewise, I left the sand and eelgrass for later.

The first areas I wandered…

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Field Journal: Alki Beach Opalescent Nudibranchs

For Mother’s Day I chose to visit Alki Beach at low tide, one of my favorite activities in Seattle. It was busy on the beach and after noticing the many red hats walking around I realized it was one of the Seattle Aquarium’s Beach Naturalist days. The red capped people were volunteers there at low tide to educate visitors about the life on our shorelines. I started wandering and first watched a Great Blue Heron successfully fishing in the outgoing water. My next encounters were with chitons, limpets and sea anemones. Like I saw the previous day in Edmonds, dog whelk eggs covered some rocks. I observed something which looked like a sea anemone, but the base was completely buried in the sand and only ghostly white tentacles waved about in the water. Nearby a crab shell hosted a handful of…

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Field Journal: Marina Beach Park

Over the last two weeks, transient – also known as Bigg’s – Orcas have been seen nearly every day in Puget Sound. For a week they were seen in the south part of Puget Sound, near Olympia and Tacoma but during the last week they were observed regularly around Edmonds and Mukilteo, just north of Seattle. Mid-week I went to Edmonds hoping to catch sight of the Orcas because they had been observed from the ferry between Clinton and Mukilteo in the morning. By the time I arrived there were no sightings of the Orcas, but I did meet somebody from the Orca Network and had a nice talk about the whales. 

When Saturday arrived the weather ended up being decent despite the forecast of possible rain and we decided to head north back to Edmonds again. There’s a park near the ferry right along the…

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Field Journal: Cabrillo National Monument Tidepools

In the afternoon of our second and last full day in San Diego, after we visited Tecolote Canyon we headed towards the Pacific Ocean. I wanted to find tide pools to visit at low tide and read that Cabrillo National Monument had some pretty nice marine fauna. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realize was that it was a free parks day and by afternoon the place was absolutely packed. There was no parking near the tide pools and when we finally arrived, after low tide had already peaked, there were so many people that navigating the rocky shore was more like navigating cars at rush hour. Sadly, I didn’t get to thoroughly investigate the tide pools and animals and instead had more of a fleeting glance. I’d love to go back another visit when it’s less busy and the tide is further out, because it does look…

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