Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Starry shore

Critters, critters, and more critters. And acres of seaweeds, to boot. That's "our" beach. I've sorted out the photos from our one-hour visit; too many for one post.

I'll start with the easy ones, and even then, there are a couple of mystery beasties.

The upper intertidal zone, looking south towards Oyster Bay. Difficult walking, unless we stick to the slabs of sandstone.

Middle intertidal zone, looking north towards Stories Beach. The greenery is rockweed, sea lettuce, and a dark, stringy weed, all very slippery underfoot. The birds are Bonaparte's gulls.

The top of the subtidal zone, which we didn't reach this visit, is partly sand, part rocks, and difficult to wade in because of a steady current.

A tangle of bull kelp, tossed up by the tide.

A small piece of an unidentified seaweed.

More stars:

This one is redder than most purple/ochre sea stars.

Can you see the three starfish here? 
 There's a common purple star at the bottom, then the orange one above it, not the same species. The skin is smooth; it may be the leather star. And up at the top right, a small, fat, beige and grey one, well camouflaged. It doesn't match anything in my books.

A green, patterned star, also unidentified.

 Near the tip of the lower left arm, there is a shiny brown speckled animal. I hadn't seen it until I was examining the photos. I don't know what it is, but I suspect some sort of small nudibranch, possibly the barnacle-eating nudibranch.

A large brittle star. The central disc is about the size of a dime. Probably the long-armed brittle star

There were three or four together of these stars on the sand under a rock; it's hard to tell how many when they're a tangle of squirming arms. I fished this one out to a rock, to keep it from burrowing down before we got a photo. They're fast!

A poor photo of a scrunched up sunflower star. 

To get this, I had to balance on two wobbly, slippery stones separated by a deep stream of running water, and bend 'way over to look underneath another rock. But he was so vividly orange, I had to try!

Just more purple stars. Papa star, Mama star, Baby star.

And a great blue heron, fishing for gunnels at water's edge.

Tomorrow, little critters under the rocks.


Once again, a reminder: Rock Flipping Day is Sunday, September 9th. Instructions, history, etc.


  1. k: true life. I saw the unidentified kelp, and SPED through the rest to tell you I think it's young feather boa kelp (Egregia menziesii). I say young, or that part is developing, 'cause the thingies off the main stipe are small. It's a very nifty species that barely can deal with the heat in San Diego, but I did get to know it (and monitor it) down there. It's probably much happier in your cooler climes.

    SOOOOOO miss the ocean, so THANK YOU for this delightful tour. And, wow, do you have some dashing gulls! =)

  2. p.s. "a tangle" "tossed up by the tide" is delightful writing. =)

  3. I agree--lovely writing and photos. And have to admit--my first reaction on seeing the unidentified kelp's photo was to think, "It's the coolest nudibranch EVER!"

  4. Biobabbler; thanks; I had looked at feather boa in my encyclopedia, and gave up on it because it seemed too red, and too wide in the central rib. But being a young 'un explains the difference.

    And thanks for the p.s. :)

    Olivia, now that would be a cool nudi!


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