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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Field Journal: Saltwater State Park CNC

The second day of the Seattle City Nature Challenge promised to be sunny and to make the most of it I headed again to the beach hoping to add to the biodiversity for Seattle. This time I went to Saltwater State Park, just south of Seattle. I had been there a couple of times before and remembered it was a rocky beach with a freshwater stream emptying out into Puget Sound. Again I arrived an hour or so before low tide and started to make my way down the rocky shore to the water’s edge.

Along the way I stopped to take a closer look at the rocks and patches of standing water. I found barnacles still active, their cirri waving in and out of their shells. As I observed them, I saw cirri, their legs, curling in and out as they filtered small…

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Field Journal: Alki Beach CNC

On the first day of the Seattle City Nature Challenge, and the last day of spring break, I took my daughter to Alki Beach in Seattle. I hoped to contribute some seashore life to iNaturalist for the challenge and I knew Alki Beach had much to offer. It wasn’t the most promising weather, but at least it was dry to begin with, if cool. We arrived an hour before low tide and I quickly observed Brant geese, Sanderlings, Crows and gulls. Then we dug in to the shoreline and watched Feather-duster Worms, which my daughter called rainbow worms because of their striped coloring. We found quite a few still open under the water and watched them float around like paint brushes. While some were striped, others were different. Several were solid colors, mostly reds but one was a striking black with white tips.

I documented…

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Field Journal: Dog Whelks at Alki

For my daughter’s fifth birthday she decided she wanted to visit Alki Beach to look for shore life. We checked the tides and decided to go there at lunch time and head down to the beach as the tide ebbed away after we ate. The tide was high still, barely any beach was visible, but we wanted to get out before the rains arrived. Fortunately, even during the high tide there’s still plenty to see and we started wandering along the beach. I spotted a large number of Brant Geese in the water, probably somewhere between 30-40 up and down the shoreline. Further up the beach was a flock of Sanderlings. 

We investigated the rocks which were partially out of the water and found a few barnacles still feeding under the water, their delicate, lacy feet emerging and twisting in both directions before disappearing back inside. As we looked closely…

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