Friday, April 27, 2012

Busy beach

We've been far too busy recently. These days, it's a rare occasion when a sunny day, a low tide, and a free afternoon all happen at once. Last Monday was one of those.

We parked at the west end of the White Rock beach and walked quickly out towards Kwomais Point, at the mouth of Semiahmoo Bay. We were almost there, among the rocks, before the incoming tide forced us back.

As far as we got.

We had time to poke around a few of those rocks, looking for critters. And finding plenty. Yesterday's starfish, for example. And these ...

A baby grainyhand hermit, Pagurus granoismanus. One of the three common hermits on our beaches, recognizable by the bluish, fat, grainy, main pincer and the orange antennae (not visible here).

A reddish purple shore crab.

Patches of this breadcrumb sponge colonize the underside of many of the larger rocks. Below this one, you can see a few brown anemone, closed and hanging limply while the tide is out. 'Way down on the bottom right, there's a bit of a burrowing anemone showing.

A closer view of the sponge. It is a cream or yellow jelly-like coating on the rock, up to about a half-inch thick; these protrusions, each with an opening at the end, are out-current "chimneys". A few of the closed anemones are visible. I have not been able to identify the species. 

On the way back, we stopped to turn over some large stones. Crowds of miniature assorted critters were massed indiscriminately under each one: here's a sample:

A polychaete worm, two stubby isopods, several whelks, at least two species of hermit crabs, the red purple crab, barnacles, and Sitka periwinkles. Can you find them all?

Cropped portion of the above photo.

Look in this photo for the orange and yellow legs of the tiny greenmark hermits, Pagurus caurinus. The hairy hermits, Pagurus hirsutiusculus, are mostly larger, dark-coloured, with black and grey striped legs and striped antennae; they like to wear shells that seem far too small for them, barely enclosing their rear legs. One, at the bottom left, is in a striped mud snail shell. The greenmarks are using periwinkle shells, except for one that's in a broken white whelk shell. Some of the periwinkle shells and most of the whelk shells are still occupied by their original owners.

They look like they're all getting along nicely. Except that I wouldn't trust those beautiful whelks; they might get hungry.

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