Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More than meets the eye

Appearances can be deceiving. Take the rocky shore at Kwomais Point, to the west of White Rock beach, for example. It looks more or less the same as the rest of the waterfront; the railroad tracks, a barrier strip of rocks, then sand and rock mixed. Seaweed and eelgrass, seagulls and squalling crows.

Almost high tide, in a weedy spot.

But this area is not as much used by people as the rest of the shore. Maybe that's because there is no road access, no "official" trail, and no sign at the top of the steps, which, besides, lead only half-way down the bluff face to a lookout point. From here, through a gap in the railing, a narrow path, unimproved, muddy, and treacherous in places, scrambles down to the beach below. This Saturday, fewer than a dozen people were within sight.

And on the first patch of sand, we found a starfish:

The rest of us are over thataway ...

More, many more, were waiting for us among the rocks.

Pink and purple starfish. And purple-black seaweed.

In a two-inch-deep puddle beside a rock, tentacles sprung directly from the sand. An anenome, buried up to its mouth.

At the edge of the puddle, something moved. Something very tiny. It was a black and white striped fish, barely bigger than the shrimp nearby.

See them both?

A large rock was home to a chiton, as well as a mixed colony of anenomes, rich brown and white.

The chiton is that oval grey shell at the bottom of the rock. The white twisty things off to the left are the tubes of some type of marine worm.

Another look at the anenomes, closed up tight against the air.

Each rock and crevice seemed to house different types of creatures. The seaweeds were green (sea lettuce and eelgrass), yellow and brown (rockweed and a knobbly, hair-like growth) red, and dark purple. At a distance, I saw also a bright orange patch on a rock; the tide was coming in, and I couldn't get to it to investigate.

The seagulls had been using some areas as dining rooms, and they were littered with broken clam shells and crab pieces. And starfish clutching at the crabs.

An armful of crab legs.

I started photographing pools of water and sheltered rock sides, whether or not I saw anything of interest in them at the moment. At home, I blew the photos up. See what I found!

Assorted snails, in different shapes and colours. Broken shells, including mussels and barnacles. Limpets, holding tight to the rock. And an wonderfully camouflaged fish, a sculpin. I can find it, but when I look away and look back, it seems to have disappeared; I have to search for it again. Can you see it?

Here's another little pool:

The red "petal" seems to be a piece of broken crab pincher. Most of the area is covered in seaweeds, but look up in the top left corner. What is that?

Here's a close-up.

Tentacles! I haven't seen ones like this before, with white markings on the tentacles themselves. It's probably another kind of anenome.

And Laurie took this photo, of seaweed, he thought. But did you notice the large sculpin?

This piece of shore is like the beaches I grew up on; alive and thriving. We'll be back, at low tide, early in the day, and carrying lunch.


  1. Hi...I found you through BC Bloggers.

    What lovely photographs! You're making me quite homesick for the Coast and its beaches.

    I've just recently moved to 150 Mile House and have read your accounts of Bella Coola and environs.

    Words escape me in trying to describe this part of the country, after moving from Vancouver Island. It is so vast. Very, very beautiful, just difficult to put into words.

  2. God ... you make me miss the coast so badly ...

    The upside is knowing that this summer after my three have a visit with their grandparents on the North Island, I will be flying out to drive them home ...

    I'll get to wander the shore line and feast on scenes like you've shared here before coming back to the prairies ... THANKS !!!

  3. Welcome, Marion!

    I know what you mean about your area. "Vast." That it is.

    I love driving through, watching the bare hills, green where they're irrigated, grey-green otherwise.

    And except for an occasional stand of trees, no fat, no padding; like watching a ballet dancer, skin over the bones of the earth.

    Hi, Shawn!

    We never get the sea out of our blood, do we? "Beware of the Sea! If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore, ..." (LotR)


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