Friday, April 23, 2010

Rocky road

For the past couple of years, I have been mapping our trips to the shore, hoping to eventually walk the entire Delta shoreline. We've covered a fair amount so far; the skipped areas are usually off-limits to the public (First Nations Reserve lands, for example) or far from any possible access by car.

One spot that was easily accessible, and that we have set out intending to reach many times, was Kwomais Point, at the mouth of Semiahmoo Bay. People walk the railroad tracks around the point often, going from White Rock to Crescent Beach and back, so it was doable. Our problem is that we get down on the rocks, and get sidetracked by the life we find there.

A month ago, we finally made it to the Point. We started at the south end of Crescent Beach. The tide was high, so we were confined to a narrow stretch of shore.

Looking south, towards the Gulf Islands.

This is critter heaven:

Barnacles everywhere, an excellent variety of snails, crabs and hermits, worms of all sorts where there's a bit of sand, clams, mussels, -pod creatures galore, limpets ... And off-shore, always a few flocks of waterfowl, there for the smorgasbord. Overhead, the eagles, checking out the waterfowl.

White stripe, with green algal coating.

Even the rocks are interesting; each one tells a story of our ancient past, a story I am unfortunately unable to read. I can look at the "pictures", though, and make guesses. Many are like this one, solid grey stone with stripes and swirls of a different rock through the center, each layer meaning a new geological era. Others show odd speckles, or indented patterns. Fossils, maybe? The history of the Strait in code on our shore!

Snails and other animals jam themselves into the interstices, sometimes so tightly that I wonder how they got there, and if they'll ever get out. I couldn't move this whelk.

Laurie's typical pose on the rocks. Looking at barnacles this time.

"Can't catch me!"

Near the water line, we moved a stone and disturbed this prickleback (aka blenny). This is the way we saw him, mostly, squirming and slithering into the nearest shadow. I can't identify it as to species without seeing the head.

When he thinks he's hiding, we get a quick glance at the beautiful pattern. The tiny tail fin helps to define him as a prickleback.

The ever-hungry whelk.

Whelks were plentiful, as usual. Some shells seemed to be empty; I brought a handful home for my hermit crabs. Turned out, once they were resting in a bowl of seawater, that they already had hermit owners. The grainyhand hermits (like poor old Mo) like a shell so big that they can hide 'way back inside, where they can't be seen, even looking straight into the opening.

This shore, by the way, is home to species that don't show up on the other side of Boundary Bay, just a couple of miles away. Over there, the hermits are almost all hairy, the snails mostly the invasive Batillaria attramentaria, with a few periwinkles and Nassas, and the worms are mostly lugworms and polychaetes. Here, the snails include a variety of whelks, assorted turbans and periwinkles, and more. I've found ribbon worms in two colours, and bamboo worms. Which is why it takes us so long to walk this section.

Looking north, back towards the mainland.

We persisted, cheating a bit at the end where the rocks got just too much, scrambling up to the railroad tracks for the last few yards.

Even up there, life is bursting out. Through the thick layer of dry, gritty stone the railway spread to keep the vegetation down, large horsetails sprout, as rough-edged as the stone around them. This was a month ago; these are probably a couple of feet tall by now.

And we made it!

Walker, Kwomais Point. Looking south, to Washington State, at the mouth of Semiahmoo Bay.

We walked around the Point, to where we could see the inner end of Semiahmoo Bay, and the rocks we'd reached, walking from White Rock.  I could close the gap on my map.

We walked back on the tracks. Sometimes we're just lazy.


  1. I loved walking with you! I wish I could do it for real. I would love to see what you see, to seek what you seek. You are such an inspiration!!!

  2. Looks like a wonderful place, teeming with life. ~ks


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